March 17, 2011
GSTAAD—I’ve got the end-of-season blues. I know I say this every year, but this has been a particularly fun winter, with friends throwing goodbye parties, dinners, and lunches since the beginning of March. My liver has done a Gaddafi and taken a brutal revenge on my body. The right ankle is doing a Saif as I write. If I stand on it—or, worse, try to walk—it feels what it’s going to feel like when the ghastly Gaddafis get through with their opponents. I’ve had this lower leg problem for a year. About a month ago I couldn’t stand it any longer and had an X-ray taken. The cartilage has done a Bin Laden and disappeared. Hence the pain as bone touched bone. I also have crystals—not the good kind, but those that form from congenital gout—and they are embedded where the cartilage once was. It was a very easy diagnosis to make. “If you want less pain stop eating rich foods and stop drinking anything except water,” said the good Dr. Mueller. That was unacceptable, as my personality improves with drink, and at my advantaged age personality is all I have left.
That was the bad news. The good is that I can take pain, as I’ve been suffering all my adult life from women who have used me in the most unethical manner imaginable, so I’ve learned not to cry uncle too soon—up to a point, of course. When I do karate the pain is bad early on, then it goes away for a while and comes back like a horrible Gaddafi with a vengeance after training is over. With judo, I only feel it when walking home after a practice session. Skiing means no pain until the hard boot is off. Cross-country skiing means pain all the time. Hard drinking is like skiing—no pain whatsoever until the morning after. I think it’s all in my head.
Last week my friend John Sutin served the best wine ever at a great dinner party for Sean Connery and his wife. The next morning, desperate to get to the loo, I had to crawl on all fours as the ankle had erupted like Vesuvius. Sir Sean and Lady Connery were not only charming and gracious, they also revealed themselves to be longtime Spectator readers. “Never go anywhere without it,” said the great man. He also told me a story about filming Dr. No. It started in Jamaica, and Noël Coward (who had a house on the island) approached him and asked him to dinner. Once at the famous house, Connery noticed there were only two placements for dinner.
The two sat down and Sir Noël asked him: “Are you by any chance queer?”
“No, I’m not,” said James Bond.
“But you were in the Navy!” exclaimed a surprised Coward.
“Well, I’m not and never have been.”
“Well, it has served me very well,” said the great Sir Noël. End of story, and they remained friends to the end.