UNDER THE COUNTER
Saturday 16 August 1997
I considered my options - Iceland, Alaska, where people are fresh and there is air for the breathing. But this doesn't kind of fit in with my present plans. So I trawled around for ideas of how I could ameliorate my situation, while still remanding on British soil - it wasn't easy. What I found most appealing was getting the hell out of London. And then I saw it: place of my dreams. This was, I have to admit, in the property section of Country Life, but I only bought it because the cover boy was someone I knew, pictured wearing a kilt, and captioned "Featuring the Best Legs in Scotland". So there it was, the des res. You can bet your bottom Scottish pound that you'd get sea breezes here (especially if you were wearing a kilt): the 27-acre Taynish Island, in Loch Sween on the West Coast of Scotland, is a snip at pounds 50,000, and includes six acres on the mainland and a bath-house said to have been used by Lillie Langtry. How romantic can you get? And it is only a few miles up the water from the island where I was born. I've got to have it. The only catch, as I suppose is "reflected in the price", is that there is no house on the island, but there are the remains of what is possibly a 9th century monk's cell. I'll camp - it will be cooler anyway.
Plan B. If I don't manage to become a castaway, I've got to make living in London this summer a bit more bearable. So, I'm going to go topless. And who am I going to take my top off with? ... The Classic Car Club. For a one-off joining fee of pounds 500, and an annual subscription of pounds 1,500, you are given 750 points, which you then redeem to drive any of their 45 classic cars. If you choose carefully, you should get about 40 days driving a year. (The desirability of the car and the time of year dictates how many points you use.) There is a wonderful menu to choose from, with plenty of convertibles to meet my criteria: 1955 Ford Thunerbird; 1964 Austin Healey; 1967 Alfa 1750 Duetto; 1969 Mercedes 280 SL. But my absolute favourite - I have always wanted one of these - is an immaculate 1967 Karmann Ghia. So today, if you see a blonde woman in Grace Kelly headscarf, and Jackie "O" specs, speeding down towards the coast in a green Karmann Ghia, hamper in the back, a Bond-sesque hunk by her side, and Quincy Jones's "Soul Bossa Nava" playing on the stereo, well, I like to think it would be me.
OK, I realise this is all a bit pricey, so I have devised a budget alternative for cooling in the capital, which I think you'll find is just as effective. Take one kids' paddling pool, a bottle of Campari (do not pour in pool), four bags of ice, and some stimulating company, then get in and melt.
Taynish Island, offers over pounds 50,000, from Strutt & Parker, Edinburgh (0131 226 2500).
The Classic Car Club, 4-12 Britannia Street, London WC1, 0171-713 7313.
Kids' paddling pool, pounds 14.99, from Woolworth's.
5lb bag of ice, pounds 1.79; 75cl bottle of Campari, pounds 10.85, from Oddbins.
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