We are steaming on Puritan towards the private isle of Coronis for a long Pugs weekend and the boozing is easy. Bob Geldof is lecturing on everything and anything and the listening is even easier. After three hours of this, and about five vodkas on the rocks in the sun, we have passed the island of Hydra and I feel faint. The gentle swaying of the boat, the constant blare of Bob’s lecturing, and the booze is just too much. I pass out in the sun, but only for a minute or two. The Bismarcks and Hutleys and Mrs Geldof prop me up and we finally drop anchor in a private paradise that means a return to solid ground after a 10-day sail with the family I shan’t soon forget.
And that’s where Bob truly hits his stride. We’ve been arguing non-stop about Boris and Brexit while talking about the world in general. ‘If you think the EU is bossing you around, wait until Uncle Sam becomes your chief,’ is the gist of his argument with me. The Americans will eat you alive, says Ireland’s gift to sesquipedalian speech. It puts me in a difficult position. I loathe Brussels and the crooks that run the EU mafia, but respect Bob’s honesty and brilliant argument against going it alone. So I tack and go back to the ancients: what about the modern petulance which points out that women, slaves and foreigners could not vote in ancient Athens, hence the direct democracy practiced was not the real thing? ‘What are you trying to say?’ asks Bob, in probably the shortest sentence ever uttered by him. So I let him have it: nowhere in the ancient world was there such a form of government, and to those modern critics who see ancient Athenian democracy as not meeting their requirements, the ancient world, in return I am sure, find incomprehensible calling democratic a government by indirect representation and lacking in formal accountability by politicians.
As Bob contemplates a devastating retort, we are joined by yet another Pug, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, as nice and good-looking a man as there is. Then Bob comes up with a good one: the kind of direct democracy the Athenians used can only work in small groups, not in advanced technological societies. A town in Ghana where Bob was made an honorary chief — my Athenian system works there, according to Bob. He then dismisses me as a lightweight and writes a song that all the Pugs have to sing to Roger Taylor touring with Queen. (Yours truly opens the performance with a brief monologue written by me. The lyrics by Bob cannot be repeated.) Another guest on the island, Prince Augusto Ruffo di Calabria, is a Knight of Malta and an ambassador. His politics and mine coincide, and I count on him for support when the Irishman who saved Africa comes down on me rather hard. Prince Furstenberg, Count Bismarck and Edward Hutley remain neutral.
Otherwise, everything’s hunky dory. We’re up early and swim on a seafront protected by nets far out, the island a haven of green all planted by our hostess, who should be given an ecological prize for turning a rock into the most beautiful and verdant island in the whole Mediterranean. And it’s not all fun and games. We also discuss what a tragedy the widespread loss of concern for the truth is, and the degradation of language. I won’t say who is for what, but everyone agrees that the EU has turned imperialist and anti-democratic. Even Bob admits that Brexit, whether it happens or not, has concentrated the minds of those lying bureaucrats in Brussels.
Bringing the administrative state under democratic control was Boris’s first mission. Now it’s up to Brussels to put politics aside and make economics the first agenda. Don’t hold your breath. The mainstream media is against it. It talks non-stop about justice and compassion and fairness, and what it does is encourage envy, repression and revenge. The centre-right has been outshouted and outmaneuvered. If I had my way there would be a total boycott of the media, a massive cancellation of cable television services, and the creation of an alternative social media system. The left has used street actions, civil disobedience, indoctrination on campuses, and the production of films, plays and television programs to push its agenda of open borders and socialism. In America a Trump baseball cap will get you beaten up. In London, a Boris T-shirt ditto. It’s time to wake up and react.
Mind you, I’ve had such a good time first on the boat with my family, then on Coronis with all my closest friends, a deep downer is bound to come at any time. But not to worry. Just as the gloom was setting in, great news arrived by telephone. Vivien Duffield is pregnant, and we all cheered. Of course, it could be only gas.
This article was originally published in The Spectator magazine.