22 JUNE 2002, Page 62

High life

Trouble in Soho


Where was I? It's been a rough week. Following Robert Miller's and King Constantine's bash at Annabel's — more about that later — I found myself somewhere in Soho, alone and facing a young man covered in blood. 'Good God, what happened?' said I. 'My girl's mad at me, Mr Taki, I need you to help me,' came the reply. 'How do you know me, and why's your girl mad at you?' I broke her jaw ... ' 'Jesus H. Christ, why did you break her jaw?' My mate put his hands on her breasts ... so I belted her one.' 'You hit your girl because your mate felt her up, and you want me to help you?' You're my friend, Mr Taki, please help me.'

One couldn't make this up, but it seems that, having broken his girl's jaw, he then tried it on his mate, who took a bottle and smashed it over my new best friend's head, ergo the bloody mess. Now, remember, this is late Thursday night outside a seedy Soho nightclub, where I've left two friends and gone looking for trouble on my own.

And it gets better. My NBF turns out to be a Spectator reader whom I once helped get into an after-hours club. How did he recognise me? Dunno, I guess I've got the kind of looks crooks and whores and people bleeding heavily don't forget easily. But I'm intruding on Jeremy Clarke's territory. This is, after all, supposed to be High life. And, boy, has it been high throughout!

Robert Miller is a billionaire whose daughter is married to Crown Prince Paylos of Greece. Unlike most billionaires, Miller is friendly, totally unassuming and very generous with his hospitality. He owns possibly the best grouse-shooting estate in England, one that he doesn't use in order to meet English nobs, but to shoot with his buddies. He and his wife are among the very few people I have consistently mooched off (actually the only other one is Professor Yohannes Goulandris of Nuremberg University), a very upper-class English trait, but one I do not usually indulge in. Let's put it this way. The Millers have as much in common with those two ridiculous couples who went to court over who owed whom what after a holiday in Cannes as the beautiful Jessica de Rothschild has with that fat frump Monica Lewinsky.

I thought of them, the Millers, when I met the bloody one in the seedy Soho alley. Imagine if they had come along after their party. as I had asked them to. Well, it might have made a change. You don't see many people bleeding up in Gurinerside.

King Constantine, of course, is another who indulges me and turns a blind eye to my juvenile shenanigans. He seated me at his table and from this vantage point I could look down at the beautiful Caroline of Hanover's — aka of Monaco — poitrine, but I better leave it at that as Ernst, her husband and a friend of mine, is known to do a Rommel when men bother his wife.

And speaking of Jessica de Rothschild, it was her fault I ended up in Soho. Earlier on at Annabel's, I had put the moves on her and came up empty-handed, pun intended, so I proceeded to drink in order to forget my misery. Mind you, it wasn't hard, my system was already well oiled. Twenty-four hours earlier I was lying in my bed preparing for the big night when Sebastian Taylor rang inviting me out to dinner. Just a quiet little din-din with Jemima Khan and Kate Reardon is the way he put it. Then Ben Goldsmith happened. Ben-Ben arrived with his 19-year-old beauty, Kate Rothschild, to whom I jokingly proposed. 'Leave Benjamin for someone more mature like yours truly.' Like his father Jimmy, Ben has no sense of humour where the fairer sex is concerned. He challenged me to go to Aspinall's, where I proceeded to finance the gorillas in Port Lympne for the next 300 years.

The next night, upon entering Annabel's and greeting the Queen of Greece, she asked me to please behave and not get too drunk. 'As I've lost everything and no one is speaking to me any longer ... ' I began, 'Oh good!' said the Queen, obviously not having heard a word I said.

Then it was time for deepest Dorset, to Wembury House, where Tim and Emma Hanbury hold their annual cricket match against Zac Goldsmith's young whippersnappers. It would not be cricket to show off, but show off I must. Last year I went out on a golden duck, and dropped four balls, This year I made no errors on the field, did not drop my bat while running and was not out at the end. Taki not out is like Tony telling the truth, unheard of.

That night I celebrated at Zac's among the nicest and best-looking young people since Bricleshead. I somehow dragged my weary and aging carcass up at dawn, and was driven to Cirencester for the King Constantine Cup which benefits the Hellenic College Trust. Lotsa moolah was raised during the auction, and some of my guests even raised their hands, but it's hard for foreigners to have a winning bid when there are Greeks around. Even Prince Charles was impressed when someone bid 30 grand for a picture painted by him when he (Prince Charles) was two years old.