Athens Not long ago, I bragged optimistically in this space that my oil investments would soon make me rich enough to try and buy the Spectator. For good measure, of course, I had also suggested that if things did not turn out right I would ask for a rise. Well, the present proprietor does not have to worry as yet; I am not about to make the proverbial offer he cannot possibly refuse. In fact I am about to ask, beg rather, for a rise.
It all began when a young, blond, goodlooking Oxford graduate called Sebastian Taylor came to a backgammon tournament and materialised at my elbow like a character defect. Sebastian and I hit it off right away. We had a lot of things in common: he loved girls but hated them once he had been to bed with them, wanted to have a lot of money in order to flaunt it, hated 99 per cent of the people he came into contact With, and was a total failure at sports. Except for the sports, he was just like me, although possibly better looking; and he had a better classical education, drank less, and was much greedier. Oh, there was another thing — we both adored gambling.
Sebastian had converted an inheritance of something like £200 into a small fortune by playing backgammon with mugs. He was madly in love with a beautiful girl called Rachel Ward when I met him, and of course I felt very sorry for him. She was very ambitious — her ambition has been rewarded with stardom in America — and Preferred film moguls to young upstart tycoons. I set about convincing him that once he had it made he could buy the studio she was working for and fire her, or hire her, as he saw fit. The trick worked, and Sebastian decided to go into the one commodity none Of us could do without: oil.
After unsuccessfully trying to seek employment with the benevolent proprietor Of the Spectator, Sebastian decided that the Chinese, in their infinite wisdom, were a better bet. It seems that one of the sons-inlaw of Sun Yat Sen had escaped while the going was still good and made a large fortune for himself in Texas. One day, however, the Chinese oil tycoon, a gentleman by the name of Kung, had to have an operation. The doctor who saved his life was Sebastian's father. The Chinaman was very appreciative and asked Dr Taylor if he could do anything for him. 'Oh, nothing thank you', said the doctor, but when his son asked him if he knew any Oil men in Texas, he told him about Kung. Soon afterwards Sebastian, under the tutelage of Kung, decided to start an oil exploration company. We had a great celebration at my ancestral country seat, named the future multinational Ton. (from Taylor Oil) and waited for the drilling to hit black gold.
Throughout this spring and summer I enIoyed myself immensely. Although already in debt, I had borrowed money with some Paternal guarantees after I had convinced my father that at last he would be free of Me, financially at least. Last week I went to Mykonos for training in karate and in order to spend some more of the money that was about to roll in. (Sebastian, throughout this Period, kept telexing to tell me how far down our company had drilled.) On the way back here I realised that if Ton, dug any deeper our drilling could pierce the diameter of the globe, so I rang Sebastian. Needless to say there was no answer, but finally, one of his friends told me the bad news. The only oil he had found was on the hair of one of the Mexican drillers. Sebastian, who had invested his life savings in Tom, had returned to Oxford to seek solace With his mother. The other investors have rediscovered the commodity markets, and I am heading for London, poor and in shock.
Jeffrey Bernard is on holiday