High Life

Bailouts and Knockouts

February 02, 2012

But back to more pleasant subjects, such as welcoming Charles Moore to the Concussion Club. He wrote about getting knocked out in his Spectator Notes three issues ago. It feels dreamlike, as if everything is in slow motion. I’ve been concussed about five times, once severely when a guy called Wilson from the British karate team made contact with my chin and the back of my head made contact with the hard wooden floor. Apparently I began discussing Vietnam with Sensei Enoeda, the head instructor who bent over to check me out. “Take a break” was all he said. Charles asked whether death feels like getting knocked out does. I sure hope so. Being choked out in judo is downright pleasant and there’s no hangover. If your opponent has a tight grip on your Adam’s apple and you decide to tough it out and not tap out, you will pass out and feel no pain. Five seconds later you will have oxygen again and come back feeling like a million bucks—well, a million drachmas, anyway. Welcome to the club, Charles. It’s quite an exclusive one, especially nowadays with all that health and safety bulls—t.

Speaking of safety, Lord Patten tells us that Rupert Murdoch shredded his book in order to curry favor with the Chinese leadership. Sure he did, but he was also frightened for his life because of his Dragon Lady of a wife. Wendi-whatever-her-name-was-before-she-married-Murdoch would have given him one of those roundhouses she learned back in some Chinese alley, and that would have been the end of him. Better to pulp a book than turn into pulp, eh, Rupe? (Lord Patten is a favorite of mine because of his pretty daughters as well as the fact that he cried when turning over Hong Kong. What was he supposed to do—jump with joy like professional diplomats would have?)

They say living well is the best revenge, and I’ve been living well of late. I went to yet another great party way up in the snow-covered mountains. It was given by the Eagle Club’s president Urs Hodler to celebrate his long and very happy marriage to his wonderful wife Alice. We all met in the hamlet of Saanen, got into a bus, and went up a tiny road to a hut where great wine and food awaited us. Just before we took off, I tried a “Hanbury”—it’s called that because Tim Hanbury once stole a bus full of Japanese tourists while the driver was relieving himself in the middle of Berkeley Square. He eventually ran out of room in a tiny trail nearby and left the tourists looking confused. The fuzz arrived but Timmy was nowhere to be seen. He had gone back to Annabel’s, where the staff swore to the cops he had never left.

But when I tried a Hanbury I couldn’t find the handbrake. My passengers were not in a Japanese mood, so I meekly turned it over to the driver. I then had a hell of a good time getting drunk high up in a mountain without a single oligarch in sight.

 

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