June 21, 2007

Well, what can one say except they don’t throw parties like this one any more. The dress code was devilishly or angelically black tie. (Think horns and wings and other heavenly things). I, of course, went as an angel, but my wings snapped off just as I entered the beautiful mansion of Prince Pavlos of Greece. His wife, Princess Marie Chantal, had put a lot of time and effort in making his fortieth birthday a memorable one. Adjectives somehow become denuded of their meaning when one has seen perfection, as in the perfect party. European royals such as Prince Felipe of Spain and his sister Princess Christina, Prince Haakon of Norway and his wife, our own Prince Andrew and Lord and Lady Linley, the beautiful Gabriella Windsor and her brother Freddie, Prince Michael of Greece and princess Marina, their daughter Olga, and, of course, all the younger Greek royals, Nikolaos, Achilleas, Filippos, Theodora, and the birthday boy’s parents, King Constantine and Queen Anna-Maria of Greece. There were only about 200 of us for dinner, served in the garden masquerading as Heaven, with clouds of dry ice and ice sculptures of angels giving one an added incentive to try and live a good life in order to make it upstairs when the grim one calls.

MC, as friends of princess Pavlos call her, is a hell of a lady. She has had four children, runs a perfect house—make that houses—and also has a business of her own which is very successful. Her father, Robert Miller, is a billionaire but one wouldn’t know it by meeting him. Like all sailors (and he holds the trans-Atlantic record) he is simple and direct and has a sense of humour. He was the first to notice my wings had snapped, pointed up to the sky and asked me whether I was surprised. I was not, but what were stilt-walkers and erotic dancers doing in Heaven?

I sat at King Constantine’s table with two fellow Pugs members, Tim Hoare and Nick Scott. Arkie Busson, also a member, as is the birthday boy, all sat nearby. Pugs membership invites proximity. (More about the club later). The piece de resistance was MC’s surprise for her husband, a professionally made film tribute, one in which I had been honoured to take part. Alas, everyone was outshone by Nick Scott’s appearance—with beret, granny glasses and heavily accented German—as Herr Professor Wilhelm von Gimlet, the world’s greatest authority on graphology. On and on he went but I am unable to repeat some of the gems because I was laughing so hard at his accent and appearance. (“Und you should see off ze Luftwaffeplatz, ze omega, means ze comma is like leffink at Gott in himmel.”)

My very own piece de resistance came when I danced with Naomi Campbell, a beautiful, carnal, dangerous temptress, smouldering in her skin and luring me to pretend I’m Fred Astaire, however arthritic a Fred. This was taking place downstairs, where an impromptu nightclub had been set up on top of the swimming pool. Red coloured smoke, or my imagination, made me think of a Woody Allen type of Hell. Inspired by Naomi, I write: 

“The Glutton, gross in paunch and thigh,
Eludes the reaper grim,
Swollen of nose, and red of eye,
The Drunkard laughs at him.
The fund manager, the hack,
carelessly quaff champagne,
The pop-star lives for ever,
on pills, bimbos and cocaine.
Frustrated by this doleful news,
Death starts to feel unlucky,
he slings the Devil’s tripod fork ,
but only wings old Taki.”

Yes, yes, I know, but I do still have a hangover. Biggest effort and best costumes of the night, that’s an easy one. Tatiana Blatnik, Alexandra Schoenburg, Debonnaire Bismarck, Chantal Miller and Rolf Sachs. Best people to take one home in the late hours while tired and emotional, Leopold Bismarck and Tim Hoare. Happy birthday, Pavlos, and I can’t wait for your fiftieth.

And now down to serious matters. While some members were dancing the night away last week, Pugs club was being overwhelmed by more correspondence than the somewhat elderly secretaries can possibly cope with. More and more royals want in. Things are now at a point which is frankly ridiculous. The aforementioned Prince Pavlos openly announced that outside his beautiful wife’s incredible attention to detail and love which made for a remarkable forty, his election to Pugs stood alone as his most treasured gift.

This is when news came in that Count Bismarck, scourge of the candidates list and as ruthless as the Iron Chancellor, had, by way of marking the occasion of the birthday, given way to the election of Bopsi, the Maharaja of Jodhpur. He is the 8th member of the world’s most exclusive club, which caused a spot of bother. As the news was leaked, angry and disappointed candidates behaved disgracefully outside Pavlos’s beautiful premises. In the meantime, scenes of joy were reported from the state of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Elephants, camels, carpet baggers, swords men, aged retainers of the ancient state, men dressed as monkeys, and monkeys dressed as men, polo fellows, painted ladies, fox terrier dogs, danced late into the night to the strains of Ravi Shankar and the Eton boating song. Also Colonel Bogie, the tune made famous in the masterpiece Bridge over the River Ganges.

The Maharajah, needless to say, is over the moon. “What am I expected to do?” telegraphed his highness. “Absolutely nothing,” went the reply. It is, after all, our club’s motto.

The Spectator.


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