– a trip with Bunter in the aristocratic fast-lane
& Arts Books
and Ronnie Wood to Kate Moss and Jerry Hall. In one embarrassing anecdote, Beaufort recalls walking out of Hall’s hotel room “beaming with pride”, and waiting three weeks to tell a “couple of friends in strictest confidence”, knowing that “it was important to be totally discreet about the evening”. Nonetheless, Hall “must have got wind of my boasting as, when somebody asked Jerry about me, she is reputed to have replied in her famous twang, ‘If that boy’s c--k was as big as his mouth, he’d be one hell of a lay.’” It’s these stories that, Beaufort believes, make him an “unlikely duke”, though I’ve known and written about some of his contemporaries, and think his actions are exactly what’s expected of any modern-day aristocrat. There are, however, moments of unveiling, such as his dabble with drugs, where he writes: “I never suffered from what could remotely be described as a problem, but there was a period of a few years when I took rather more cocaine than ideal.” He says that “after a line or two, I found my charm seemed to be working universally”, before admitting, “The reality, of course, is that cocaine turns you into rather a bore: you blabber along mindlessly.” Through the memoir, we see both sides of Beaufort, the unapologetic and the insecure. He writes of his regret at not attending university, and, more playfully, that he didn’t achieve global fame with his true passion: performing rock. He writes, quite sadly, that Paula Yates once asked him what he did. “I have never much enjoyed this question,” he confesses, “but mumbled some platitudes about owning an estate.” Lest you feel too sorry for him, he found solace in travelling to Ibiza to party with Hugh Grant and attending Wednesday-night poker games at Aspinalls with the likes of Zac Goldsmith and Michael Gove. Throughout the pages of The Unlikely Duke, largely entertaining and at times poignant, Beaufort tries to seem staggeringly normal. What he doesn’t realise is that, for the same reason that we gawk at the faces of the lives chronicled in Tatler and Vogue, an extraordinary life makes for a much better read.