Better Red Than Woke

At the time it felt like a century, but it was only twelve years. I began this column in 1977 and the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the latter calling for an end to my anti-communist tracts that my first editor, Alexander Chancellor, described as quasi-fascist efforts to subvert democracy. By 1977 I had been trying for a couple of years to get something published in the Speccie, and only achieved it when I abandoned right-wing politics and wrote about how one could always tell an Englishman abroad. (Brits would use flashlights and check their bill in dark and crowded Parisian nightclubs, making them persona non grata with waiters at Jimmy’s.)

Twelve years had seemed a lifetime back then, and once the wall had come down I gave a ball that was an alliterative triumph: To Celebrate the Collapse of Communism. I took the ballroom of the Savoy, a hotel now gone to the dogs, and named each table after a fallen commie dictator. Journalists and the hoity-toity being unreliable guests, I kept one large table without placements for late arrivals, the Fidel Castro. I think we were around 300; many had come over from the States, and at around midnight, when Jay McInerney and I went to the river entrance to do something illegal, Joan Collins swept in—she was appearing in Noel Coward’s Private Lives at the time—and like a true star thought we had been waiting for her since the beginning, and thanked me. I love Joan and love that she thinks like a star should think. (And dresses like one, not like a homeless person.) Gift Card i... Best Price: null Buy New $50.00 (as of 01:10 EST - Details)

The reason those first twelve years of writing this column seem a lifetime is because unusual and somewhat tumultuous events took place: I had two children, wrote two books, and competed in two karate world championships as Greek captain; my closest English friends got married, with a Greek boy as an usher; I was sent to Pentonville for four months; and I lost my beloved father on July 14, 1989. (I quipped that he could not bear living through the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.) But if you think this stuff dates me, a recent book review of Julian Barnes’ latest opus, The Man in the Red Coat, makes me Methuselah. In it, Dr. Love, as he calls the great French seducer Pozzi, arrives in London in 1885 accompanied by Prince Edmond de Polignac and Count Robert de Montesquiou. Seventy-three years later, in 1958, a young Taki arrives in Paris and trips the light fantastic with Ghislaine de Polignac and Veronique de Montesquiou in various Parisian haunts. (Both ladies are now gone.) According to the review, the three charming Frenchmen captivated London in June 1885. I won’t go as far as to say I captivated Paris in 1958, but I didn’t do too badly. But enough said about the past.

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