For some, the most glamorous cemetery is Père Lachaise in Paris, where the likes of Jim Morrison, Maria Callas and Oscar Wilde are buried. The spot that gets my vote for favoured resting place, however? That'd be the hangar in Barbados where the Concorde plane sits - and under whose corpse, so to speak, parties can be occasionally held and dancing occasionally accomplished.
Going where only Muhammed Ali, Mick Jagger and Queen Elizabeth II herself had gone before, I had a chance the other night to do just that. “If those wings could talk,” someone inevitably piped, as we gathered at the spot that doubles as a museum for the Concorde, but is infinitely more fabulous – and redolent of a lost jet-set age – during social functions. Looking up at the marvel, on which Naomi Campbell is said to have preferred the 1A seat, my mind twisted for a moment when I saw a couple, here on earth, re-enacting that famous Dirty Dancing scene when the DJ spun the song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life". The woman in question ran across the dance floor and jumped effervescently into her man-friend's arms, as we - and the Concorde - looked on.
Now, that's a party.
And a first, perhaps, for a plane that once cruised at about 60,000 feet and through which, on many flights, you could actually see the curve of the Earth. Put out to pasture in 2003, they were once a fleet of about 20 with four regular routes comprising of London, Paris, New York and Barbados. (The one that sits on this A-list island would take under four hours to get here from the U.K. – at twice the speed of sound!)
Joan Collins was said to have lived on the Concorde. And Sean Connery was susceptible to its charms, too. No full-blown diva or Bond in sight tonight, but there was...biryani. And sashimi. And so much more! The party that I was lucky enough to attend, while I was doing the island, was the annual curtain-raiser held for the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, a late-night party that is a very special get-to. In town for this year's fest, which always attracts top-line talent, were such star chefs as New York's Marcus Samuelsson (personally tapped by the Obamas to cook their first State Dinner, back in 2009) and Tyler Florence, host of several Food Network shows and a favourite of Oprah.
As we were all eating, and dancing, and eating some more, an official gazing at the belly of the plane pointed out to me that “there was no first class, or second class. It was only Concorde class.”
There was a message about karma from Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra, who received the Dalai Lama Humanitarian Award this week. “I don't want to be another rich, dead dude,” he told a morning news show in Vancouver after being personally awarded the honour by the Tibetan spiritual leader.
The B.C.-based power broker, who made his fortune in mining before launching Lionsgate Entertainment, in 1997 – the boutique studio that launched with films like Christian Bale's American Psycho and has more recently flung the Hunger Games franchise on the world – went on to tell the morning show, "A lot of rich people take themselves too seriously, take their money too seriously.”
Long a BFF of Bill Clinton – together, he runs a charitable foundation with the former president – Frank points out that riches don't bring you eternal life. "If you sit down and contemplate the concept of your immortality, or the lack of your immortality," he said, "you'll come to the conclusion that hoarding all that money gives no real result."