1 MAY 1992, Page 41

High life

Off with your head

Taki

Oh dear. A bad week for The Spectator's Low and High life correspon- dents. First of all Jeff. Getting fired by the Sunday Mirror, an organ once owned by Captain Bob . . . bob . . . bob, must surely be as humiliating as being socially cut dead by Salman Rushdie. In my not so humble opinion there is only one thing to be done. The Express should give Jeff a column in place of the unreadable, fat, chippy oikette who goes by the name of Jill Parkin. Jeff can write, La Parkin can only whine. The latter is also guilty of attacking Taki, calling me worthless, an odd epithet to call some-

one who keeps 2,000 people employed.

But never mind the bragging. Through- out last week I was lambasted by all sorts of people for having said that Prince Edward was gay. The problem is that although I did say it, it was in response to a question about whether there were rumours about his sexuality. 'Yes, there are rumours that he's gay, very gay. . . . ' Hav- ing said that gay rights in Britain were far behind those in America (and thank God for it) it was normal to point out that if Edward is gay he's not exactly breaking down the closet doors.

What bothers me is the fact that on the one hand in Britain you have six-year-olds being indoctrinated into condoms, homo- sexuality and bizarre sex education courses, while on the other if one speculates that a perfectly decent young man may or may not be queer, all hell breaks loose. In other words, it is perfectly all right to infect infants of the lower orders with homosexu- al ideas, but if you say anything about royal huggers, it's off with your head.

Well, that may be OK for the English, but not for me. Especially as two of my four closest English friends are gay, and as I truly believe all English public school men are queer. In fact I find it as unfair as the Queen having seen fit to honour Edward Heath with a rank higher than has so far been bestowed on Mrs Thatcher.

Which brings me to yet another unrelat- ed subject, that of Mr John Bryan and the Duchess of York. As I told Nigel Dempster when he rang me to enquire about my dealings with John Bryan, I did invest in his company about six years ago. The result was exactly the same as when I invested in Sebastian Taylor's oil exploration deal 12 years ago: I lost every penny, but had a hell of a time dreaming about how I was going to spend the moolah once we had struck it rich.

Both Johnny and Sebastian are buddies of mine, but both are better salesmen than businessmen. If they don't like to hear this, too bad. I didn't particularly like losing the total of my investment, but nor did I com- plain. The least an investor can do once he has lost every penny is to tell the truth, however inconvenient. Bryan meant well and was honest, and that's more than I can say about a lot of people I've done business with. What is not so clear-cut is in what capacity he's advising the royals. As a busi- nessman? A boyfriend? An American? A friend of the social-climbing Steve Wyatt? Or as a man who has never been married? In the immortal words of Sir John Junor, I think we should be told.

Obviously I cannot spill the beans about what John Bryan and I were up to more than a decade ago. Suffice it to say he was as wild as I was, and chased the fairer sex as arduously, if not as obsessively, as I do. He is a damn good skier and good compa- ny, but he does tend to tell taller tales than most. I know and like both his father and sister, to whom he's close, an unheard-of phenomenon nowadays. A couple of years ago Geraldine Harmsworth Ogilvy broke up with him and he was heartbroken. Now perhaps he has found happiness in advising royals. As Oscar Wilde said, 'Young men do, old men teach.'