Gunther Sachs: The last of the great playboys

Nostalgia at the 1960s playboy era with the death last week of Gunther Sachs, the last of the great playboys.

There are no real playboys any more, says Taki in The Daily Telegraph. They disappeared during the late 1960s, "when the word playboy' was considered a badge of honour among those of us who preferred playing rather than working". Nowadays, in "the ravages of what has become our sick celebrity culture our favourite watering holes [are] overrun by grotesque Russian crooks, with their flashy hookers and ill-gotten billions".

To qualify as a playboy back then, says Giles Hattersley in The Sunday Times, you needed "limitless funds, an international property portfolio, sporting skill, a cultured brain, a robust liver to say nothing of being total social Viagra". The greatest playboy of all was the Dominican diplomat and sportsman, Porfirio Rubirosa. At parties thrown by Rubi' and Gunther Sachs (who died last week), says Taki, there were always beautiful women, and there was usually an orchestra. "No freaks, no hookers, very few film people, and even fewer gays. There were absolutely no drugs."

For a while, Taki lived with Rubi (and his fifth wife, Odile) in Paris. A typical day would mean: wake around 9am, breakfast in the garden, half an hour of boxing, a visit to the polo club in the Bois de Boulogne to "work the ponies", then lunch with wives or girlfriends. After lunch the men, "more often than not", would go over to Madam Claude's, "the most elegant and exclusive brothel in the City of Light". Dinner time usually meant an impromptu party followed by a de rigueur visit to Jimmy's, the Boulevard Montparnasse nightclub that was the "school for budding playboys". Next morning it would start all over again.

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It may sound like an empty life, says Taki, but it had an aesthetic appeal as well as an element of depravity. "Unlike today's Arab kleptocrats and vulgar Russian oligarchs, no one escorted hookers, no one employed bodyguards or PR assistants. Many of the 1960s playboys died young, often in car accidents; few reached the awkward age of 60, let alone the "ridiculously old age" of 78 (Sachs' age when he died). Unlike the "upwardly mobile, socially inept" types around now, the elegant playboys of the 1960s added to the glamour and gaiety of the times.

Our pious and boxy hotels

Rod Liddle says in The Sunday Times that every time he stays in a London hotel he wishes he'd just dossed down in a shop doorway instead. Everything about British hotels is depressing, from "the computerised room key" that doesn't work to "the nasty little airless, colour co-ordinated box" you pay £200 for. As someone who stays in London hotels a lot, I disagree but you have to be careful where you go.

And he's right about two things. You can't open the windows in most London hotels these days and you often find a "pious and cheeky notice" in hotel bathrooms "telling you not to use too many towels in case the earth overheats and we all die". While I ignore that, finding good hotels where you can open the window is, I agree, not nearly so easy.

Tabloid money "Whatever's gone wrong, George has to fix it now"

While the rest of the world is speeding to recovery, Britain's old banger "is starting to choke", says Fraser Nelson in the News of the World. "Whatever's gone wrong,' a Cabinet member tells me, George [Osborne] has to fix it now.'" If the economy doesn't recover, it's "game over" for the Tories. "Germany has exported its way to a boom. The always-on-strike French are recovering twice as fast as us. Even bombed-out Greece is outpacing us." Osborne makes the case for cuts, but he needs to speed up. In the financial year that's just started, Britain's government spending will be cut by just 0.6%. "Barack Obama is cutting more in one year than Osborne will in four." Meanwhile, our national debt is increasing by a "shocking" £320m a day. "Most damagingly, Osborne is still imposing a 50p tax which is chasing entrepreneurs away. High taxes redistribute people, not wealth." So cut taxes and more waste. "This is, after all, a government machine that guzzles £1.2m of your money every minute of the day."

The Tory council of Wandsworth is now charging children £2.50 to use a playground in Battersea, says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. British families are already suffering 100 homes are repossessed every day. "Benefits cuts, VAT hikes and job losses mean 36% of UK families can now no longer afford a week's holiday away this summer And this final slap in the face for the kids of Battersea shows the Tories care more for penny-pinching than the welfare of our children."

"One day, not that long ago, a man walked into his bank and I presume asked to borrow some money for a new business," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. He must have explained it would be called Skype and enable anyone with an internet to make free phone calls anywhere in the world. The bank manager may have been puzzled. "But luckily he agreed to the loan. Very luckily, because this week Skype was sold to Microsoft for £5.2bn."