Loose Lips on Ships

CORONIS—We are steaming on Puritantoward the private isle of Coronis for a long Pugs weekend and the boozing is easy. Sir Bob Geldof is lecturing on everything and anything and the listening is even easier. After three hours of this, and about five vodkas on the rocks in the sun, we have bypassed the island of Hydra and I feel faint. The gentle swaying of the boat, the constant blaring of Sir Bob’s lecture, and the booze are just too much. I pass out in the sun, but only for a minute or two. The Bismarcks and Hutleys and Lady Geldof prop me up and we finally drop anchor in the private paradise that means return to solid ground after a ten-day sail with the family I shan’t soon forget.

And that’s where Sir Bob truly hits his stride. We’ve been arguing nonstop about Boris and Brexit, and Bob cunningly had one drink while talking about the world in general with a Dutch royal, who had a few more. “If you think the E.U. is bossing you around, wait until Uncle Sam becomes your chief,” is the gist of his argument with me. “The Americans will eat you alive,” says Ireland’s gift to sesquipedalian speech. It puts me in a difficult position. I loathe Brussels and the crooks who run the E.U. Mafia, but respect Sir Bob’s honesty and brilliant argument against going at it alone. So I tack and go back to the ancients: What about the modern petulance that points out that women, slaves, and foreigners could not vote in ancient Athens, hence the direct democracy practiced was not the real thing? “What are you trying to say?” asks Bob in probably the shortest sentence ever uttered by him. So I let him have it: Nowhere in the ancient world was there such a form of government, and to those modern critics who see ancient Athenian democracy as not meeting their requirements, the ancient world—in return, I am sure—finds it incomprehensible calling democratic a government by indirect representation and lacking in formal accountability by politicians. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)

As Bob contemplates a devastating retort, we are joined by yet another Pug, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, as nice and good-looking a man as there is. Then Sir Bob comes up with a good one: The kind of direct democracy the Athenians used can only work in small groups, not in advanced technological societies. In fact, in a town in Ghana where Bob was made an honorary chief and a man who sells secondhand clothes in Acton made their king, my Athenian system works, according to Bob. He then dismisses me as a lightweight and writes a song that all the Pugs have to sing to Roger Taylor, touring with Queen. (Yours truly opens the performance with a brief monologue written by me. The lyrics by Bob cannot be repeated.) Another guest on the island, Prince Augusto Ruffo di Calabria, is a Knight of Malta and an ambassador. His politics and mine coincide, and I count on him for support when the Irishman who saved Africa comes down on me rather hard. Prince Furstenberg, Count Bismarck, and Edward Hutley remain neutral, the latter busy trying to swim the ten miles separating our private island and where the Dutch monarchs are staying. (He’s been intercepted and returned by Dutch guards twice.)

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