But before I tell you about the blast, a few words about George Livanos. His father was the biggest ship-owner during the golden period of shipping. Mr Livanos was known for paying cash for his boats and for never owing a penny to any bank or individual. His eldest daughter, Euge- nie, married Stavros Niarchos, while his second, Tina, married Aristotle Socrates Onassis. George was the youngest. His
father died unexpectedly while George was still in his twenties, making him one of the richest men on earth.
The trouble was one would never know it. An old Texas expression for showy peo- ple without much behind their show is 'Big hat, no cattle'. George has always had a hell of a lot of cattle but chooses to wear a very small hat. He and I attended the same university, although we both dropped out once we had tasted freedom in Paris and New York. For a while, George was among the world's most eligible bachelors and, being a red-blooded Greek, took full advantage of it. (Alas, he never even threw me a crumb from his leftovers.)
Then he married Lita, the mother of his five children, and has lived happily ever after. He got Lita rather early on. The story was she was 16. I suspect she was 15, Maybe even 14, and she definitely looked 12. There is no more devoted a couple.
George and Lita have all the toys, the private island, the Gulfstream, the chopper and the boat, but mostly for entertaining their friends. They are very, very unspoilt and simple down-to-earth people. As are their children.
The reason for the ball was the wedding of Eugenie, George's second daughter, to Nicholas Clive-Worms, a Frenchman who heads his family-owned conglomerate. (Last summer I told Nicholas he was get- ting the best girl and he already owned the most beautiful boat whereas I had nothing, and Nicholas sighed and said, 'Oh God, I can see the start of a column in The Specta- tor .
Blenheim was turned into an autumnal forest of midnight blue, an Adam and Eve Garden of Eden, or so it seemed to me even before I began to knock back the vod- kas. Throughout the day I had promised myself not to drink too much, and to try to appreciate the evening. Someone told me in the Bagel last week that my excessive boozing was due to an inner emptiness. Not at all, I found out. Boozing makes it more fun. It is as simple as that.
And it began on Concorde the day before, as the plane was full of people fly- ing over for the ball. Three hours and 10 minutes go very quickly when in good com- pany downing very good wine. Once at Blenheim it all became a blur. I remember speaking to the beautiful Debbie Bismarck and the Niarchos boys. Then I recall cut- ting in on Sir Evelyn de Rothschild — the best looking guy in the room — to the great annoyance of the lady he was dancing with (She asked me who I was and what I did and I told her I was an ageing gigolo looking for a rich woman and she fled. I later found out she was a Rothschild.) I did not see the ghastly Roussel but I did spot Athina Onassis, Christina's daugh- ter, and she looked very pretty and mature. From the Aga Khan to Prince Nicolaos of Greece, to a slew of Goulandrises, Habs- burgs and Bismarcks, even to my ex-wife Cristina, who proceeded to lecture me on the evils of drink, never have I seen a chicer crowd. The love of my life (definitely platonic) Kiki Wittgenstein was there look- ing younger than when I first fell head over heels 30 years ago.
An added bonus was the absence of hacks. In fact, the only one who could pos- sibly qualify was yours truly. Towards the end, or was it the beginning, I had a long and rather frustrating dance with Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, who true to form refused my pleas to give me shelter in Blenheim. As I had sent my driver home with a friend earlier, things looked grim for a while. I had no idea where I was and the place is big. Then Spiro and Daphne Niar- chos offered me a ride and now I'm look- ing forward to three more parties because George and Lita have three more unmar- ried children.