7 APRIL 1990, Page 49

High life

The secret of my success


Athens hishis is a painful confession to make, but as this is the last column I write for Charles Moore, I might as well come clean. I have been writing horrendous fibs these last 13 years, ironically ever since I joined The Spectator. Needless to say, not to you, dear read- ers, but to the fair sex in general, and girls under the age of 28 in particular. It all started in 1977, when I was living in SW10, in the house I eventually dropped to my buddy John Aspinall when No. 11 refused to come up. I had just begun this column for the then sainted one, Alexander Chan- cellor, and being rather nervous about writing in a foreign language, I'd sit and practise when not in Tramp or Annabel's.

How does one practise? Why, by writing love letters, of course. Back then I was in love with an English girl who wouldn't give me the proverbial time of day, so one night I decided to go for broke. Here is what I wrote: Dear X. There is a marvellous line in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo — having avenged Mercutio's death — is advised to flee Vero- na. 'But heaven's here, where Juliet lives,' he cries. However corny this may sound, this is exactly how I have felt towards you ever since the first moment I met you. Love, Taki.

The reason, I'm ashamed to admit, that I know the letter by heart is not because I have kept a copy, but — horror of horrors — because the epistle served its purpose so spectacularly, I decided right there and then to try it again. Three weeks later I met an American lady in the Big Bagel and dropped off my R and J letter to her the next day. I changed only her name and added the word Shakespeare because she was a Yank. Incredible as it may seem, it worked again. I was hooked for life.

As it is with most drugs, things were hunky-dory for a while. Mind you, it didn't always work, but I was doing better when I used the letter than when I didn't. Then I made a terrible mistake. I began writing it in lavatories and passing it around night- clubs, and even restaurants. One evening in 1985, fresh out of jail and raring to go, I dined with Sophie Stapleton-Cotton, her room-mate Sasha Nott, daughter of the lugubrious-looking Falklands man, and my friend Oliver Gilmour.

Sophie wasn't paying the slightest atten- tion to me, so when I got home that night I yet again wrote The Letter. And that is when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan. Sophie read the form epistle, laughed, and told Sasha that she thought me ridicu- lous, but that I did write nice letters. That is when la Nott got suspicious. 'Let me see,' she said, and then she began to roar like the MGM lion. As it turned out, four other friends of hers had received it also. With Sophie that made five. Word got out, and in no time I was the laughing-stock of London, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somer- set, Gloucestershire, and even some other shires not chic enough to mention. Being found out did for my sex life what Bomber Command did for Dresden. I tried it on some Greeks but my heart wasn't in it. By 1986 I stopped it altogether.

Until last week in London, that is. During a birthday party for Emily Todhun- ter, I was seated between Cassy Neville and Susannah Constantine. I fell madly in love with both, got drunk, and went home to try it once again. But I think I got the names and addresses mixed up, so as I'm bound to be found out, and in order to commemorate Charles Moore's editorship, I now do penance. And swear I will never write the R and J letter again. At least not in England.