November 27, 2008
NEW YORK—When I heard about it, my own inchoate feelings were confused. A party for Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi, and the caller was Nat Rothschild, son of Lord Rothschild, a major donor to Jewish causes and Israel. What in Mohammed’s name was going on here? Nat Rothschild is no stranger to England thanks to his by now famous letter to the Times. He is less well known in America, but his Atticus fund, his G-5, his post-modern house in the West Village and his propensity for beautiful women of the Russian persuasion nevertheless make him a bold-face name.
Nat was quite funny on the telephone. ‘Will you promise to be nice to Gaddafi? He’s not a bad fellow.’ ‘Hasn’t he got blood on his hands?’ said I, trying to sound like a pompous Harvard lecturer. ‘I’m sure he does,’ said Nat laughing, ‘but the girls will be beautiful. Make sure you come, but please be polite.’ And I was, when Nat introduced me to a man who — how should I put it — was dressed in black, looked like a chic pimp, bald, shaved head, and quite friendly. ‘Are you for Hamas, or Abbas?’ was my first question to the man who is in New York offering to invest some of Libya’s $100 billion sovereign fund in U.S. companies. He did not hesitate. ‘Hamas.’ ‘Good for you,’ said I, ‘after all, Hamas did get elected.’ My next question went unanswered, as Gaddafi junior walked away and mingled with the bevy of beauties in Nat’s futuristic abode. ‘How much money is your father giving to the Palestinians?’ He obviously mistook me for an ardent Zionist and chose not to answer.
Oh well, the party was great. I hooked up with my old buddy Christopher Brooks, the painter, who used to be known as ‘Looks Brooks’ 25 years ago in London, when his sister Annabel tripped the light fantastic with Bryan Ferry and ‘Looks’ was making beautiful music with Lady Liza Campbell. More important is the fact that Nat Rothschild, scion to one of the most famous Jewish dynasties ever, can throw a bash and have one of the sons of an ex-major terrorist — now a reformed character due to … er, Uncle Sam’s forays in the Middle East — attend and actually mingle with the young and the restless. There were some major Brazilian beauties there, but for some strange reason the poor little Greek boy did not make an impression.
About 30 years ago, in this here space, I had suggested that the only way to Middle East peace was through commerce. I had noticed rich Arabs being awfully chummy with Jewish merchants of expensive trinkets, so in my simple-minded way I figured if the Arabs and the Jews could get along while bargaining over gold watches and necklaces in places like Gstaad and St Moritz, not to mention the unspeakable Riviera, why not down in places like Jericho, Jerusalem, even in Gaza?
So now we have a Rothschild and a Gaddafi breaking bread together in the Big Bagel, and although I’m puling a George Osborne, I’m doing it for the sake of Middle East peace. Seif Gaddafi is on a private visit to America, and by the time he was introduced to the greatest Greek writer since Aristophanes, he had already met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and many members of Congress. Stranger things have happened. Twenty two years ago Reagan was bombing Tripoli and calling his old man the world’s most dangerous terrorist. Now the guy is hanging out with Nat Rothschild and seeing Condi on the side.
What did I really think of him? Not much, I’m afraid. He had the kind of look about him that says my s*** doesn’t smell. His dress was appalling — mod, black, tight and ridiculous — but at least he didn’t pitch up a tent in the middle of Nat’s house like his old man did in the middle of Paris while Sarko and his wife were genuflecting and kissing his arse. What I think is that Nat Rothschild should be named ambassador plenipotentiary by Her Majesty’s Government, as he is obviously very well connected. A problem with Putin? Send Nat. Gaddafi making trouble? Dispatch Nat. Low circulation at the Times? Have Nat write a letter. Lack of beautiful girls at some party conference? Have Nat throw a party. You get the picture.
And speaking of parties, I flew over for The Speccie’s 180th anniversary, and it was well worth spending more money on a first-class round-trip ticket than the moolah The Spectator has paid me these last 31 years. It was a great idea. The party, that is. And a hell of an ego trip. For once I mingled and saw everyone before getting drunk, shook hands like a politician, spoke at length with Lucia, a young and beautiful reader whose parents have been subscribers since forever, and generally did my job. Anthony Osmond-Evans gave me his coffee table book on The Magic of Monaco, and asked me to make friends of his members of Pug’s Club. I misplaced my notes with their names, but all pugs are automatically members of the club, so there. (I think it’s Mo and Doe.) In fact, I had such a good time meeting long-time readers, I forgot to dance with my betrothed, Mary Wakefield, which she took so badly, she ran out in tears and disappeared into the Royal Hospital Gardens, Chelsea, SW3.
And then I discovered back at our Chairman’s place that Rod Liddle is as uxorious as Toby Young, but I’m holding this for next week.
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