Growing old does not necessarily make us wiser, despite the vast number of experiences we might have had during the course of a very active and successful life.
We become over confident, slightly cantankerous and, worst of all, we lose patience when we need time to reflect, rather than act in an impromptu and sometimes foolish manner.
But once we knock at the door of old age we all seem to suffer moments of unusual behaviour normally not accredited to us; and though that’s a fact of life, the more prudent will try to harness it to avoid being looked on in a less favourable light.
This came to mind last week when I read with some amusement of the shindig between Taki Theodoracopulos (seventy-seven) and Charles Saatchi (seventy) which began when Taki voiced his utter disgust at Saatchi’s assault on his now ex-wife Nigella Lawson. He referred to Saatchi as having ‘a coward’s bullying manner’ and by way of a florid metaphor elsewhere declared ‘expecting a pornographer to have a heart is like counting on Charles Saatchi to act like a gentleman’. Clever phraseology perhaps, but deeply wounding to his intended target.
By way of a riposte Saatchi wrote, in an open letter addressed to ‘Ms Taki’ at the Spectator, that Nigella would have been ‘aghast’ at his support as ‘she always found you toe-curlingly vile’. This inflamed an already explosive war of words which has escalated now to the point where a challenge of a duel made the situation rather comical, but nevertheless incredibly silly given the age of both protagonists.
I have known Taki for over three decades. As one of his publishers I dare to count him as a friend. His column in the Spectator is often outrageous but always entertaining and, notwithstanding the numerous changes of ownership and editors at the weekly magazine over the years, his column seems to have survived the vicissitudes of time.
As for Charles Saatchi, I have never met him. I read his articles in the Evening Standard and find him enterprising as well as an art collector with vision and flare. Nigella Lawson, his ex-wife, I know well. Her first job and training after leaving university was with Quartet Books before she hit the trail in search of fame and fortune. We remain friends, although these days our paths rarely cross.
I sincerely hope that wiser counsel will prevail with all the parties concerned in this unholy fracas, to call it a day. Both Taki and Charles Saatchi should negotiate a truce and give up the idea of a duel in a cage or an open space. It would be laughable and degrading and I refuse to contemplate either its happening or its consequences if it ever came to that.
Kiss and make up would be the most honourable and sensible solution – and call it a draw if you wish.