Driven to Distraction

By Taki Theodoracopulos

Looking into the past and trying to choose one of all the incomparably magical episodes of my youth can be difficult. Giselle was certainly one of them – blonde, French, charming, Aryan vision – but so was Kiki, white-skinned, also French, patrician and very sexy. They were friends, these two, but they broke up after they both chose the same boyfriend. And they were also married to men who knew and liked the boy, but back then such things were common, and it was Paris after all. Both ladies are still alive and now quite old, Giselle a widow, Kiki a princess. There were many other beauties, of course, but these two stand out because of the timing, a hellish winter month of sex and change and change again and then change again and then change once more. And then the two got wiser and this was goodbye. Ah, the foolishness of youth, but without it one would be as worthless as one is today.
I had the idea to reminisce after reading Jeremy Clarke’s column in last week’s Spectator. Unlike him, however, I have never been asked how I am doing by a lady. These things come naturally. I suppose it was that restless search for a purpose that led me on a mad pursuit of women, but a woman’s glowing white skin can drive me mad, and as I said, Paris was then a perpetual party, and as far as outward appearances counted, it was tout va. My company was scornful of morality, but very moral when it came to anything other than sex. Manners were observed to the extreme and the friends I made back then lasted a lifetime.

Mind you, painful moments are not always recalled at will, but recently I bumped into one of the ladies and she asked me about the other, and things came back. Am I living too deep in the past? Wouldn’t you if you were my age? I had a wonderful youth, so why not think about it and smile? London followed Paris and the 70s, 80s and 90s were wild times in old London. Weekend parties in the country, the weddings of Hanbury, Fraser, Morley, Somerset, Gilmour, Tramps and at Annabel’s all-nighters, and at that time I was a happily married man with children growing up in New York. That’s what I call a full life, but it wasn’t an introspective one. What was that Edith Piaf song sung by the French Foreign Legion as they surrendered to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu? It was something about not regretting anything. I feel the same way, and the life of excess, drinking, sex, drugs and gambling is now a thing of the past, the war against conformity is over and I am done with it.

Well, not exactly. Last week Ben Goldsmith found me somewhere in Mayfair late at night and honked at me. “You’re not fit to walk alone,” said Ben, “you’ll definitely get mugged.” I protested, but the next thing I knew I was home and Ben had taken care of everything. The evening had begun in a civilised manner at Bellamy’s, Gavin Rankin’s wonderful place, where he treated George Livano and me to a wonderful dinner with even better wines. The three of us had such a good time that I overdid it and after booking the place I went looking for trouble. Looking for trouble used to be my favorite hobby, but it’s a bit of a joke these days. Maybe it’s age, but probably having found too much trouble in the past, I now seem daydreamy. As a result, I’ve hired an amazing guide, a Lithuanian Catholic, who talks to me about religion and will ensure in the future that I return home safely without the courtesy of Ben Goldsmith.

A summer in London without Annabel Goldsmith’s garden party would have been a bit like Boris without the blonde mop and I connected with old friends I can’t see anymore. The prettiest girl there: Sophie Windsor, as always, but I could be biased as I am her mother-in-law’s favourite person by far. I left the party early and joined friends in Hertford Street, but then came Sunday lunch chez les Bismarcks, a day that will live in infamy as we sat down at 2 p.m. and got up at 8 p.m. It went like this: two Bloody Mary’s, followed by a couple of glasses of sparkling rosé and then easily more than twenty glasses of fantastic red wine. The Count and Countess B left with their sons for a rock concert in Hyde Park, and I walked home, having given the driver the weekend off so I could walk everywhere. It was a sad sight, an adult crossing Onslow Square asking for directions to the King’s Road.

It’s okay. Another Greek, Nikos Kyrgios, disgraced the motherland more than your elder. I watched his father make the sign of the cross while praying his bum son would beat another Greek, and the speaker John Lloyd had no idea what the gesture was. Lloyd watches too many stupid videos, which is why Chrissy Evert broke up with him. And at 67, Chrissy looked great at the Wimbledon ceremony on Sunday. As did the greatest of them all, Margaret Court. Next week I’ll have a journalistic tennis recap for you, but from back in the day. In the meantime, I’m going to go two days without drinking, as my doctor ordered some forty years ago.

Credit: Illustrations by René Gruau