August 06, 2007
On Board S/Y Bushido — Sailing away from St Tropez I felt a bit like Lot, asked the wife to take one last look, but Alexandra, alas, remained unsalty and very much in command. Porto Fino was the next stop, probably the most beautiful of tiny ports anywhere in the Med, green and very much up and down rather than sideways. I got off and began to climb a small path snaking around grand villas to the top, passed the magnificent hotel Splendido, where once upon a time I took a German countess for a dirty weekend, and she came down with the flu, leaving me alone in the bar talking to strangers. I heard some Cole Porter tunes playing and went in. The place was unchanged and as grand as ever, but for one thing, the people. Never have I seen such ghastly proles, except for the day before in St Tropez, that is.
I know, I know, snobbery is nothing but bad manners trying to pass itself off as good taste, but today’s rich are of such cartoonish crudeness and vulgarity, they make any definition of snobbery redundant. Oy veh! That evening I took my crew to dinner along with my guests in the port, and had some delicious wine picked by my cook. The owner’s smile should have warned me. The bill could have covered the first year of the Iraq war. And speaking of the war, I thought Greece winning the European Cup in 2004 was the greatest upset win ever. But what about the Iraqis winning the Asian Cup? The Ancient Greeks, in their infinite wisdom, would stop the fighting during Olympic competition. But try and say that to the towelheads blowing each other up in that miserable place. Next week I will present in these here pages Taki’s three steps for W to save his lame-duck presidency, so get your copies of the London Spectator early as Washington is preparing to buy every available copy.
From Porto Fino and an attack of the gout it was Elba, where on 4 May 1814, courtesy of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Undaunted, Bonaparte arrived on the island. Napo was named Emperor and Ruler of Elba, but as Paul Johnson wrote, this was a joke, most likely thought up by Talleyrand, whose sly sense of humour escaped the emperor. According to Paul, Napoleon even designed a flag for his little territory. I visited his house, now a museum, the moment we dropped anchor, and I now realise why the emperor only stayed a year. The back of his house is a parking lot, and after the splendors of Fontainebleau even John Prescott would choose a hasty migration. Who the hell wants to live in a house looking out over a lot of crappy Fiats?
Mind you, Elba is not my favourite place. I grew up worshipping Napoleon —until I met Paul Johnson, that is —and still feel his pain. How would any of you like to have ruled half the European continent and eighty million, and then end up running an island of 25,000, in a place 19 miles long and 7 wide? Worse, much worse, who among us men would like to be stuck on an island, even with Maria Walewska (who brought his son Alexandre with her on a visit) while Marie-Louise was tripping the light fantastic with General Count von Neipperg, an Austrian who suffered from priapism, if one can call that suffering. I shudder at the thoughts that must have crossed Napo’s mind. (Neipperg as souvlaki; Neipperg as a roast; Neipperg as a marshmallow).
And speaking of terrible thoughts, I’d like to make souvlaki out of those towels who go around calling themselves princes and demand that we adhere to their primitive customs about women. The oil-rich emir of Qatar might not like his female relatives to fly next to European men who are strangers, but then he should provide them with a flying carpet, instead of holding up a plane in boiling Milano. The BA pilot was terrific in throwing the bums off, but he should have done it earlier. Screw these pests; who the hell do they think they are? We should take their oil by force and let them eat sand for a while. At least they might learn some manners, but I doubt it. Never mind. It’s even worse in the Land of the Depraved. A very rich and famous American football star, the African-American (PC lives) Michael Wick, has been indicted for dog fighting. No, he didn’t personally do it, he bred man’s best friend to do the job. Those dogs that refused to partake in the gruesome operation, according to the federal indictment, were often shot, hanged, drowned or electrocuted for not fighting. But that’s not my point. Wick may have been jeered by animal lovers, but he was also cheered as he entered court. The mind reels. Here’s poor little Taki not allowed to say anything rude about minorities, and this multi-millionaire bum, who staged these horrors for fun and profit, is cheered by celebrity-mad subhumans who will forgive anything as long as the perpetrator is a big name.
One thing is for sure, however. There will be no Michael Wicks where I’m off to next. Capri, the Straits of Scylla and Charybdis, the Ionian Islands and so on. I’ve made this trip many times before and it’s not my favourite, but it does bring back memories when Qatar was under British rule and people like Wick had never been heard of. Happy sailing.