I thought about Black Mischief while giving dinner to delightful young Alex in a more conventional club in London. Youth has many enviable aspects, including the pleasure of reading Evelyn Waugh for the first time. One of the few consolations of moving from brave new world to stoical older world is the realisation that Waugh re-reads: in my case, with Black Mischief, recently. Leaving Brideshead on one side, it is fun to argue about his comic novels: which deserves the blue riband? At present, I would vote for Black Mischief, but scenes from Decline and Fall, Scoop and Put Out More Flags effervesce and enchant. Thus effervescing and enchanted, I beamed at Alex, who told me that I must come to one of her clubs.
The visit to today’s nightclub (identified by the name Ton-Tons Macoute) does not go well by comparison with the Perroquet. The drinks are overpriced and over diluted and the clientele overpopulated with Russian oligarchs who are much less interesting than those who patronized the Perroquet:
Unlike Prince Fyodor, they could not be described as elegant. They are all accompanied by their equivalent of Madame Fifi. Although they neither realise it nor intend it, they are doing something which the world would have thought impossible: making a moral case for the Soviet Union.
After a night of club crawling, Anderson has a sobering (and self-deprecating) thought, also reminiscent of Waugh’s novels:
At my club, inter alia, Alex and I had finished off a bottle of ’99 Yquem that another diner had abandoned: goodness knows why. She was thrilled; it was her first taste of Yquem. Although I enjoyed her enjoyment, I thought it needed at least another five years. I just hope that this is not crabbed age speaking.