by Mandolyna Theodoracopulos
It’s a pity the Côte d’Azur doesn’t look more like the coast of Corsica, a largely unspoiled paradise amid the besmirched Mediterranean. I recently spent five days sailing along the Coriscan strand away from all the stinkpots that line what used to be the mainland French paradise.
But I was a mere interloper there; the annual regatta is organized by Pugs, the world’s most exclusive club. My father, Taki, is a founding member and there are only 15 others—all men, or dogs if you prefer, for they are all naughty, naughty boys! A few “Pugettes” are permitted to attend certain Pug-related events, though they are purely ornamental.
I’m not sure what the Pugs Club is. From what I gather their little clique is some sort of gentleman’s club started by a group of friends to engage in gentlemanly activities. They have no clubhouse and their only regularly scheduled event is to get together yearly for lunch at Scalini in London. They also send out funny Christmas cards with all the Pugs members’ faces superimposed on amusing vintage hunting photos from the subcontinent. The club president, one William H. Gimlet, is in charge of collecting dues and organizing any Pugs-related activities. Sometimes they go shooting. Gimlet is a former boozehound who spends most of his time instructing the club members on ridiculous pursuits such as investigating the practicality of German U-boats on Lake Chad.
Previous Pug yachting excursions have been in Ibiza, Saint-Tropez, and Capri. Not everyone attended this year’s regatta. Only two boats turned up, three having dropped out—Alexia due to an electrical meltdown, the Marie Cha due to a bad back, and the Talitha due to a mysterious business trip. This year’s trip to Corsica was attended by only seven members and two boats, Bushido and Tiger Lily. Can two boats engaged in a fixed race be considered a regatta? Tiger Lily is much faster than Bushido and there is good reason to believe Bushido’s victory was engineered, though one can’t be sure considering the significant slowdown the four Pugs on Tiger Lily were experiencing due to hangovers. Aboard Bushido, Commodore Hoare, the fourth member to join Pugs, took over the wheel and commanded the most feeble tacking war I have witnessed in 35 years of sailing.
Within less than an hour the “regatta” was concluded and prize-giving was followed by a number of toasts and more drinking. Tiger Lily seemed to have misplaced the usual silver cup (she probably drank from it and tossed it into the sea) and awarded Bushido with a solar-powered hand-waving figurine of the Queen of England dressed in royal blue with her requisite little black handbag and shoes. And that was that, followed by more drinking and eating. During the post-race dinner, several Pugs gave speeches. It seems like a big part of being a Pug is about giving speeches. The Pugs orators try to outdo each other, but it is rather pathetic from an outsider’s perspective, especially considering the sheer number of speeches—if you can even call them speeches, as they are directly related to the consumption of grog. As more and more drinks are consumed, the speeches multiply. Fortunately the president is a teetotaler, though that doesn’t seem to make much difference. Once a Gimlet always a Gimlet. He likes to read out long odes to—Pugs, of course.
For a while I was jealous of all these Pugs. They seem to have an awful lot of fun together, but being a Pug is hard work. Pugs are also stooges for other Pugs who are looking for fancy invitations to the best shoots in England or aboard fancy boats such as the Marie Cha. While most Pugs are corpulent, hairy, and red-faced, they are not all so, and while some Pugs shamelessly pursue leisurely divertissements aboard fancy vessels in the Mediterranean, not all of them are flagrant hedonists. The Pugs are a very charitable bunch. Occasionally, the club sponsors political propaganda such as Taki’s Magazine, but that’s small potatoes compared to some Pugs who are out there doing good in the world.
Who are these Pugs? What do they do when they aren’t being Pugs? Sir Bob Geldof’s cause is Africa, and he really does an awful lot over there. He is also a wonderful dinner companion. He can also get the pope and the president of the U.S. of A. to return his calls. Wow! Sir Roger Taylor, drummer for the band Queen, has been knighted for his environmental work and all-around brilliance. Tim Hoare, scion of the great banking family, is a Falstaffian character who in addition to employing thousands of people is one of the most generous fellows you’ll ever meet. Leopold Bismarck, one of Pugs’ three original founders, is the Iron Chancellor’s great-grandson. He’s arguably one of the most handsome Pugs. Ed Hutley is his only true rival, but Ed is an actor in his spare time and probably wears his wife’s knickers on occasion! William H. Gimlet is also known as Nick Scott. He is a fine president, writer, gardener, cook, and friend. Pugs in absentia include George Livanos, Arki Busson, Robert Miller, Princes Pavlos and Nikolaos of Greece, Sir Christopher Lee, Mark Getty, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and Heinrich von Fürstenberg—more than just spoiled lapdogs to be sure.