ONBOARD S/Y BUSHIDO—I made a resolution long ago never to mention the Olympics, but resolutions are made to be broken. My uncle competed in Los Angeles in 1932 and Berlin in 1936, and my father ran the relay for Greece in Berlin. Reading about American rappers and Indian steel tycoons carrying the Olympic torch reminds me how much commerce has hijacked sport.
I’m leaving London the day after the Spectator summer party in early July and staying as far away as possible. I enjoyed the Olympics in Athens in 2004, but London ain’t Athens. Sebastian Coe and Boris Johnson ain’t cheap Greek political hustlers, either, so I hope the Games work, if only for Seb and Boris, two good guys amid a jungle of crooks and profiteers.
Speaking of crooks in the jungle, Leopold and Debbie Bismarck were onboard Bushido and Debbie told me about her cousin’s “death” in Kenya—which is what she called it. I prefer the word “murder.” Alexander Monson was in police custody when he died from a blow to the head. He was arrested for smoking cannabis outside a nightclub. His father, Lord Monson, flew to Kenya to try and find out who was responsible for his son’s death. Poor man. He is as likely to hear the truth as the perpetrators are to be punished. The victim was most likely killed for refusing to pay off the arresting cops. But the poor guy had no money to give, the Monson family being long on ancestry but very short of the readies. I haven’t been to Kenya since the late sixties, but even back then the hostility toward the white man was palpable. Now, after all the years of brainwashing, who is going to send a black cop to jail for hitting and killing an upper-class Englishman?
Leopold, or Bolle, as everyone west of the Vistula calls him, had less depressing stories. Bolle has been reading a certain Arthur Schnitzler, a very talented late-1800s Austrian short-story writer. In one tale, Der Tod des Junggesellen (The Death of the Bachelor), a man who is dying invites his closest male friends for a last visit. The dying man says goodbye to them and tells them he will leave a letter on his desk to be opened after his death. Once he has joined his maker, his friends open it and read that the departed has had all their wives and enjoyed them greatly. Silently they file out and go their separate ways, their heads spinning, shocked.
When not discussing tuberculosis, Bolle swam off Bushido, something I refused to do. The water is too dirty everywhere near the French and Italian Rivieras, with too many boats, too many people, and too much waste flowing silently into the sea. From Monte Carlo westward to Toulon and Marseille the construction continues as if it were the West Bank. Horrendous cruise ships disgorge tourists old enough to be my parents, tottering on steel walkers and trying to read the numbers on their euros. Rude French waiters have a field day with them.
Thank heaven I have a great captain and crew. Boating sure ain’t what it used to be, and as one is disinclined to go ashore and mix with the horrors, the crew becomes all-important. The other necessity is friends who have houses nearby. Chantal Hanover has a charming fifties house in the bay of Théoule west of Cannes, and we spotted her longtime companion Dr. Gimlet, AKA Nick Scott, madly waving flags in a vain effort to make my captain put Bushido on the rocks. But Captain Marcus trusts his charts and instruments more than Gimlet’s malevolent efforts to make a fool of Taki, the result being a great dinner in Chantal’s garden with the wine flowing as if there was no tomorrow.
That’s about it, dear readers. I’m off to London for a wedding and to check out Robin Birley’s new club, one that I predict will make all other London clubs redundant. It’s about time. Ever since his father sold his four clubs, London nightlife has gone the way of the Riviera. The poor little Greek boy will finally be able to once again shine when the clock strikes twelve and onward. Robin even tells me I am allowed to bring my walker.
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