High life

High life

8 January 2022

9:00 AM

8 January 2022

9:00 AM



It is hard to imagine that we have reached the year 2022 and are still imposing completely irrelevant restrictions on each other. By we I mean those of us in the supposedly enlightened West, where silliness, jealousy, cruelty and woke rule the roost. I’ll begin with the Chinese virus that has contrived to dominate the headlines even more than Boris and Meghan put together.

I got it following my Christmas party, which was a great success if one is to believe some of the thank-you notes I received. All I can say is that it’s not true that chastity is sexually alluring. If it were, women would go for newly ordained priests who take their vows seriously, rather than elderly swine. I obviously snogged the wrong girl, because the day after the party the legs were not moving and neither was the brain. Then came the inability to breathe in the middle of the night. It actually felt like curtains — no doctor will visit or even answer the telephone in the Bagel — but then I gave the middle finger to the man in the white suit and told him to go and reproduce himself. I spoke to the wife in Switzerland, who was anxious to fly over but I forbade it. Two days and nights of hell and then it was all over.

Let’s face the facts. Omicron is no big deal. The media, always desperate to spread fear and fill gullible souls with panic, began the countdown to Armageddon and they are still counting. Actually, Omicron deftly evades antibodies, which are one of the body’s first defenders (and vaccine-induced antibodies seem to perform much worse against Omicron than against other variants). But that is its only strength. As I said, it’s no big deal. Boosters lessen the severity of these infections. I’m 85. I drink, smoke and stay up late, yet after three days I was back training and carousing, although I did feel rather funny when starting up again.

So, ignore Neil Ferguson’s doomsday predictions; instead read Niall Ferguson — anything and everything he writes. Get the booster that does to Omicron what the 300 Spartans did to the Persian hordes: slow them down so Themistocles could later erase them from the Greek map once and for all. Watch Omicron turn into Omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, and become just a bad memory with only a few victims.

Do not turn against Doctor Taki if his medical and scientific predictions are wrong. He did, after all, infect himself for the sake of science, however pleasant the infectious procedure may have been. (Mind you, and despite the bragging, I haven’t felt the same since, but that’s between you, me and Marie Curie.)

Now for the Christmas party. It used to be a grand affair and it was always in Gstaad. I don’t know how and why, but it went west with the night and ended up in the Bagel. After my kids got married and chose to live in Europe, the party turned into a bachelor blast just before our Lord’s birthday. Michael Mailer got involved and it slowly became a Hollywood thing. I used to take over a nightclub, but now I have a more civilised affair at home. Douglas Murray was a guest this year, as was the governor of New Jersey, a Democrat, whose wife used to trip the light fantastic with Michael. He arrived well into his cups, as was I, and it looked as though two guests were about to spoil the Christmas cheer by challenging each other. I stepped in and reminded them that neither knew how to fight, and that the lady who they were about to tangle over was the love of my life. Things cooled down and I got Covid.

Before the booze got to me, and while talking to my publisher Morgan Entrekin of Grove/Atlantic, I mentioned a collection of my writings over these past 50 years that a friend of mine is gathering. ‘If I were to bring up your name, these youngsters would evict me from my office,’ was the way he put it.

‘Is it as bad as all that?’ I asked him. It’s worse, was his answer. Talk about censorship. Films, plays, books, articles; if it ain’t woke, it ain’t kosher. Freedom has gone with the wind in the land of the freebie and home of the depraved. So be it. I’m now back in good old Helvetia and I miss the Bagel as much as I miss the virus.

Here in Gstaad I have followed a ritual for close to 60 years: lunch on the 31st was always with the King of Greece and Aleko Goulandris. We’d down three or four bottles of champagne and I would continue through the long night. Around five or six in the morning, I’d hit the Palace Hotel, which was always jumping. Not this year, thanks to you know what. So I had a very nice dinner at home with children and grandchildren and a few friends, drank a delicious Pauillac until midnight, then switched to the more serious stuff. I ended up snogging my wonderful wife to whom I’ve been married for 50 years this Christmas.

I wish all the readers a very happy 2022, and a special wish for my Low life colleague, the great Jeremy Clarke.

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