22 MAY 1993, Page 39

High life

Health hazard


Playing tennis in the Athenian smog can be far more dangerous for one's health than smoking, yet I see no government warnings about 55-year-olds competing in clouds of polluted air. Worse, Greeks have decided tennis should not be an elitist game, which means players shout abuse at each other, at God and even a mother or two, all in the name of sport. If bad line calls were a penal offence, some of these bums would have already been given three non-concurrent life sentences.

Politically, too, the Olive Republic is doing a Major Ron. My buddy the Prime Minister is accused of doing a President Nixon by bugging a few of his associates, something I don't think Nixon ever did. The fact that 60 per cent of all Greeks believe their telephone are tapped is imma- terial. As is the fact that Ali Babandreou started the rot by bugging his own as well as the opposition's. Elections are due next year and I'm afraid Mitsotakis's days are numbered.

But my father's friend is an old shrewdy, and he has bounced back before. One thing is for sure: the man who pillaged Greece will be leading the Socialists, along with the most elegant first-lady-to-be since Madame Sukarno, the ex-air hostess with the big you-know-what. The combined age of Mit- sotakis and Papandreous is 150, which means they have some catching up to do with that old mummy Mitterrand.

And speaking of scandal, it isn't often that a defeated holder of high political office commits suicide in despair. Ali Babandreou has no shame, otherwise he'd be the most likely candidate. Pierre Bere- govoy's deed may have been honourable, but did not alter the fact that charges of great financial impropriety had been lev- elled against him. If £150,000 seems a petty sum, one has to remember how Oliver North's security fence, worth only 13,000 greenbacks, had the crooks in Congress up in arms. Or how FBI Director William Ses- sions's use of government telephones for private calls brought demands for his resig- nation. M. Beregovoy's defenders have been carrying on as if a serving prime min- ister should be able to receive interest-free loans from accused inside traders and somehow have the transaction escape press comment.

But one has to be charitable. I'd rather have played Pierre Beregovoy at tennis any, day than some of the types I've been up against this week.

Otherwise it has been a quiet time in the Big Olive. My boat has just come out of dry dock and if I lose in the quarter-finals today I'm taking her to Mykonos in search of women. I'm hoping Jeffrey Bernard is feeling better as his presence in the birth- place of Ganymede is expected at any moment, although I'm not sure if Bushido, my boat, is insured against arson. But even if he burns the damn thing down, I won't mind. Seeing Jeff among the gays in Mykonos should be the eighth wonder of this world.