July 12, 2014

Mandraki Harbor

Mandraki Harbor

Source: Shutterstock

Island of Rhodos—When I’m on the water, I feel I was born to it. Yachting has always been a way to enjoy the sea and the nature associated with it. The motion through water, the breeze and spray on the face, the anticipation of a landfall, the sheer beauty of leaning into the wind and watching the bowsprit plunge in and then emerge shaking water off itself like a puppy, these are some of the pleasures. 

Well, I’m on a gin palace, and nothing of the above is happening. I’m a guest of John and Darcy Rigas, whose chartered mega yacht accommodates sixteen in pasha-like comfort, and to my eternal shame I’m having the time of my life. I chose the smallest of the 12 double cabins with bathroom en suite to pretend I’m on a sailboat’s cramped quarters, but it’s like slumming at the Savoy. The itinerary is Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Mykonos, and from that sin island I fly to Gstaad, the mountains, the cows, the mother of my children, and some early nights. I can use them.

“I chose the smallest of the 12 double cabins with bathroom en suite to pretend I’m on a sailboat’s cramped quarters, but it’s like slumming at the Savoy.”

One more week in London and it would have been curtains. We ended a frantic week of partying with the Spectator’s summer party, followed by one I gave in honor of my lowlife colleague Jeremy Clarke at London’s latest hot spot, the Firehouse, a dud if there ever was one. I had a private dining room for my guests and when Lord and Lady Black came in late they sort of had to describe me physically to the staff for the penny to drop. That’s no way to treat Taki, a big spender and not even of the Arab or Russian persuasion.

The evening wore on and on, so I remained dressed for my next assignment, which was to meet our loyal readers at our very home, in 22 Old Queen Street’s garden. Jeremy, whom I had left only a few hours earlier, was already there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, in a dark suit to boot and looking like the banker he’s not. I was still in my khaki one, tailored exquisitely by Anderson and Sheppard—sorry about the plug, it’s well deserved. And what fun I had, despite the Karamazovian hangover that made it feel twice as hot as it was. Brenda Murray was among the first ladies I spoke with; she is 90, a lecturer, and has been a regular Spectator reader for—get this—61 years. In other words she started to subscribe when I was 16 years old. I chatted with many others, all extremely nice, all very encouraging, some sympathizing with me about the loss of manners and the horrors of modern celebrity. My NBF, Father Julian of the Brompton Oratory, seemed interested in saving a sinner’s soul, and the way I felt after the night before, believe you me, my soul is ready.

Seeking to change my wicked ways among the waves proved no solution. The gin palace was full of party animals that had been resting in places like Brazil and Italy and London, waiting to debauch on board. Oy vey! My friend from Brazil, one from a very old and powerful family, had some horror stories to tell us about the abuses of ticket sales by FIFA officials. Tens and tens of millions have been illegally made by Blatter’s catamites, and there’s nothing anyone can do because the only ones who have witnessed the massive fraud are those who profited from it. The World Cup has been pronounced a great success by the media, but I was shocked, shocked by the refereeing and the way the game is now played. Nothing flows anymore, the game’s too physical, and the refs don’t call fouls because if they did there would be no game, just stoppages. Croatia, Chile, and Colombia lost by blatantly unfair decisions. Costa Rica should feel proud, however, as should Australia and the U.S., countries that still consider diving a sport conducted off a board or platform.


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