Monday, 25 May 2009

Diamond Dealers are a Girl's Best Friend

Right now, I am sitting on my balcony. The air is warm and still. All I can hear is the faint laughter of children in a nearby playground. A super yacht, gleaming white in the sunlight, is slicing through the water in silence. Everything is perfect. Or at least it would be, if I could only get my head to stop throbbing. I’m discovering that headaches are what happen when you adopt the lifestyle of Paris Hilton but don’t have the pedigree and the years of training. I’m convinced that Paris, Nicky, Tara P-T et al must have gone to a special school, one that gives classes on drinking on an empty stomach and getting in and out of sports cars wearing short skirts.

Yesterday, I was at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. It was Grand Prix day and as I tottered about in my white mini dress and four-inch heels clasping a glass of champagne, I imagined I was blending in flawlessly with the high society beauties. I mean, considering that I don’t frequent this sort of establishment everyday I thought I was doing rather well. Still, given that I was only there because my playboy friend had a spare ticket, I couldn’t help feeling a little like a gatecrasher at a party.

B had called on Wednesday and left a message on my answer phone: ‘Hey lady! Got a proposition for you. Sunday. Monte. Grand Prix. Got a table at the Hotel de Paris and a spare ticket. Fancy it?’ Hmmm, it was a tough one. So there I was, sitting around a tiny table with B and his girlfriend, a banker friend of theirs from the Bahamas and a diamond dealer recently moved to Monaco from Switzerland. It was midday and we were already on our second glass of champagne. The Diamond Dealer was telling me about some £40 million rock just auctioned at Christies. Apparently, when it comes to rare gems the credit crunch is an irrelevance. I asked him how much an average diamond costs nowadays. ‘What do you mean average? For you?’ I laughed, hysterically, and he frowned. ‘Oh,’ I managed eventually, ‘I’m not really in a position to be buying diamonds.’ He raised his hand to me, ‘Seriously, they’re more affordable than you might think. You could get a nice pair of studs for just a couple of grand.’ This time I managed to keep a straight face; it is a skill I’ve been able to hone thanks to B regularly making statements like, ‘I bought my second Lamborghini on a whim’ and ‘This flat is super cheap to rent. Twenty grand a month in Monte is a bloody bargain.’

After the Diamond Dealer and I had a disagreement over whether or not I could be a classic car journalist when I couldn’t provide a definition of a frogeye, I decided to head outside for a breather. The crowd on the roof terrace had their noses pressed to the wire fence. Every few seconds, a distant burr would build to reverberating roar and a car would flash past. They were so fast. I shut my eyes, let the sound pass through me and felt my body shudder. Admittedly, it did begin to get a bit samey after a while - the cars went round and round, no one crashed - so I went back inside.

The party was hotting up and a swarm of pretty young socialites had started dancing to Eurohouse whilst the Bulgarian Mafiosi were holding court in one corner of the room. I decided that I could probably get used to the Grand Prix scene and wondered if I was too old and short to be a pit girl. I saw that B had a fresh glass of champagne waiting for me, my ninth or tenth, and I wobbled towards the table. With my feet squashed into these ill-fitting stilettos for several hours now, I suddenly felt compelled to kick them off. I also felt compelled to stand on a chair and start techno dancing. This raised position happened to be much better for scoping out handsome richies; not that I was going to be fussy, I only had to persuade one of them to kiss me and then we could get married. The plan was progressing apace and I was making out in the corner with some dapper continental chap in cream chinos and creaseless blue shirt when I felt someone tugging at my arm. ‘Hannah,’ B’s girlfriend said sharply, ‘we’re going.’ I looked up at my new beau: he was so smooth and shiny. ‘Please,’ I implored, ‘can’t we stay a bit longer.’ ‘No,’ she yanked me from the boy’s embrace, ‘the driver’s outside. Come on.’ As I was pulled towards the door, I looked back at the boy who was blinking at me, clearly bemused. He looked like a deer caught in car headlights. A really good looking deer. This was so unfair: of course she could go home, she already had a rich boyfriend. I, an impoverished writer on the other hand, was still without my trophy husband.

Now, looking down on the yacht sailing out to sea, it's dawning on me that if I want to achieve the Grand Prix standard of living I'll have to make my own money. Morally, I'm not sure I have what it takes to be a diamond dealer but, then again, I'll never know unless I give it a go...

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