31 DECEMBER 1994, Page 32

High life

Take ten years off


here it is, another year gone by, and now that I'm on the wrong side of 57, every year feels like a day, a day whose hours are short. (Sorry Oscar.) As far as years go, it wasn't a vintage one, but I shan't complain.

'Of course we've come a long way since our first boat' Exactly ten years ago I was in Pentonville, and as the new year was ushered in all I heard was Washington D.C. mayor-elect Barry's favourite word — F---! It seems that jailbirds hate holidays, and when the Salvation Army came to serenade the arrival of 1985, all they got for their trou- bles was Barry's favourite. Unlike poor Lord Bristol, a decade later I'm much wiser, although I'd gladly do another stretch if I could get back ten years off my weary shoulders. Mind you, not so weary. Another shoulder operation is looming, I have tennis elbow on the arm I don't play tennis with — from karate — the hair is now almost all white, but the only thing that keeps the girls away is the absence of a yacht. I'm looking forward to building a sailing boat, although experience tells me that tarts much prefer gin palaces. In fact, one of them told me so at Tramps the other night. She actually said that 'gen- tlemen sail on power boats, and only power boats are real yachts.' I guess she hasn't met any real ones — gents, that is — but then she is an American.

Although 1994 started with a bang, when I hit a Gstaad wall while skiing rather fast, all things considered it was a healthy one Out of 356 nights, I was drunk only 116 times — so far as I can recall. This is a vast improvement. I had a scare in March, when I was informed only nine per cent of n liver was functioning, so ever since then I cut down and presto. The place that helped me beat demon drink was the Big Bagel. Life over there is now so ghastly, I'd rather stay at home. Clinton has brought out the trailer park person in everyone, the trailer park person that worries about the earth and about political correctness, that is. Graham Greene once said he'd rather live in Moscow than El Lay, and I screamed bloody murder when I read it. Now I agree with N the old spook. Even Grosny is better than Bagel hacks are going around writing that New York is improving, which is a bit like saying that muggers are being more polite. The place is tinged with malevo- lence, and bystander shootings continue to be the norm. Television is one big egalitarian vulgarity, full of O.J. Simpson, Mendez brothers, Lorena Bobbitt and seri- al killer filth. Oprah Winfrey and Phil Don- ahue, two of the greatest vulgarians ever to crawl on the screen, continue to present freak shows, and everybody is now a victim in the Land of the Freebie and the Horne of the Depraved. Here in London, life was sweeter in 1994, but not for the royal family. The Charles-Diana-Sarah circus kept us amused, although even I am beginning toe wer think things have gone too far. TheY spilling the beans like faded Hollywood stars in need of moolah, and James Hev et manly nnewthhistgan. standards for doing the ung ly enn" Needless to say, there were also some s good times. Olga and William Stiviere. got hitched and gave a wonderful party, as did Mick Flick in New York for getting unhitched. There were many others, formal and otherwise, but the one that stands out in my mind — and liver — was the Barbara Black, Carla Powell and Tessa Keswick bash for Sir Jimmy Goldsmith at the Ritz, where the Princess of Wales informed me there was no future between us. Mean- while, Happy New Year to all of you, and especially to our only reader in Siberia.