June 15, 2012



ONBOARD S/Y BUSHIDO—I made a resolution long ago never to mention the Olympics, but resolutions are made to be broken. My uncle competed in Los Angeles in 1932 and Berlin in 1936, and my father ran the relay for Greece in Berlin. Reading about American rappers and Indian steel tycoons carrying the Olympic torch reminds me how much commerce has hijacked sport.

I’m leaving London the day after the Spectator summer party in early July and staying as far away as possible. I enjoyed the Olympics in Athens in 2004, but London ain’t Athens. Sebastian Coe and Boris Johnson ain’t cheap Greek political hustlers, either, so I hope the Games work, if only for Seb and Boris, two good guys amid a jungle of crooks and profiteers.

“Reading about American rappers and Indian steel tycoons carrying the Olympic torch reminds me how much commerce has hijacked sport.”

Speaking of crooks in the jungle, Leopold and Debbie Bismarck were onboard Bushido and Debbie told me about her cousin’s “death” in Kenya—which is what she called it. I prefer the word “murder.” Alexander Monson was in police custody when he died from a blow to the head. He was arrested for smoking cannabis outside a nightclub. His father, Lord Monson, flew to Kenya to try and find out who was responsible for his son’s death. Poor man. He is as likely to hear the truth as the perpetrators are to be punished. The victim was most likely killed for refusing to pay off the arresting cops. But the poor guy had no money to give, the Monson family being long on ancestry but very short of the readies. I haven’t been to Kenya since the late sixties, but even back then the hostility toward the white man was palpable. Now, after all the years of brainwashing, who is going to send a black cop to jail for hitting and killing an upper-class Englishman?

Leopold, or Bolle, as everyone west of the Vistula calls him, had less depressing stories. Bolle has been reading a certain Arthur Schnitzler, a very talented late-1800s Austrian short-story writer. In one tale, Der Tod des Junggesellen (The Death of the Bachelor), a man who is dying invites his closest male friends for a last visit. The dying man says goodbye to them and tells them he will leave a letter on his desk to be opened after his death. Once he has joined his maker, his friends open it and read that the departed has had all their wives and enjoyed them greatly. Silently they file out and go their separate ways, their heads spinning, shocked.


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