I recently went to a party in New York given by Peter Beard, the socialite photographer who discovered Iman. Along with the usual assortment of supermodels and rock stars were a surprising number of old friends whom I hadn't seen for years. We started comparing notes and soon discovered we had various things in common: we were all going bald, we were all running to fat and we all had girlfriends under 24. (Come to think of it, we didn't need to 'compare notes' to establish the first and second of these facts.)
I'm 31 and these friends were about the same age so perhaps we're all suffering from a premature mid-life crisis. But in spite of our advancing years and receding hairlines we have no desire to settle down and we devised a list of handy tips for those who wish to continue to sow their wild oats well into their thirties and forties.
1. Perhaps the best-kept secret of the oldest swingers in town is that the most effective way to get rid of those tell-tale bags under the eyes is Preperation H. A dab of this miracle cream will do more than any amount of exercise and healthy-living to rejuvinate a tired-looking face. I was personally let in on this secret by a young model but my friend Julian, the Financial Times's correspondent in Jerusalam, was tipped the wink by a television reporter for ABC News. Incidentally, Preperation H is also a fairly reliable way to treat haemorrhoids, the use for which its manufacturers intended it.
2. The golden rule about hair loss is to steer well clear of miracle cures but to spend a small fortune on cosmetics. A basic thickener is essential: at the moment I'm using Amitée Thick Fixx, a combination thickener and gel, but in the past I've found Paul Mitchell Thickening Spray to be very reliable. (I am not alone in this preference: I once had the good fortune to see inside Anna Ford's make-up room at the BBC and noticed that she, too, favours the Paul Mitchell spray.) Keeping your hair short is advisable for anyone who wants to avoid what has become known among my set as the 'Salman Rushdie effect'. My friend Sam, The Sunday Times's Kenyan correspondent, has shaved his head completely, a solution which has the disadvantage of being very high maintenance and only sexually attractive to German girls.
3. Keeping fit, while a colossal bore, is de rigueur if you intend to keep up with your twentysomething girlfriends, and not just in bed. Three trips to the gym per week will cut your hangover recovery time in half and reduce your propensity to break out in a shirt-drenching sweat after 30 seconds on the dance floor. Having inflated biceps also discourages young swordsmen from relieving you of your women. Taki, who is still dating 21-year-olds well into his fifties, has gone one better: he has a black belt in karate.
4. Raves are generally to be avoided, if only for the poor toilet facilities which make it difficult to inspect one's nasal hair for any rogue growth. Moreover, a Kate Moss style children's T-shirt does not show off one's thirtysomething girth to best effect. Reluctantly, if inevitably, membership of one of the more sedate London nightclubs has to be considered. I've always thought Tramp had the great advantage of being the only club in London where you can ogle at 14-year-old girls in bustiers and still be the youngest man in the room.
5. Mouthwash, I'm afraid, is another essential for the aging playboy. A good gargle with peppermint flavoured Listerine lays a good foundation at the start of an evening, particularly if you swallow it instead of spitting it out. Hourly top-ups with Gold Spot are advisable.
6. Sunbeds are to be avoided, partly on grounds of expense and partly because, as every Cosmo girl knows, they prematurely age the skin. For this reason, even direct sunlight is not a good idea. Fake tans are the route to go. Nearly all the French cosmetic houses produce a perfectly adequate cream but my personal favourite is the Clarins Crme de Soins Teintée, a revitalizing tinted moisturizer with cell extracts. Important Note: do not wear a white shirt as the fake tan has a tendency to rub off on the collar.
7. For warding off colds and other minor ailments, massive doses of Vitamin C are the ticket. 1,000mgs a day is the bare minimum. Redoxon are delicious, and the orange flavoured tablets can be mixed with Vodka to produce an interesting variant on a screwdriver, but my recommendation would have to be Duante Reade's Chewable Vitamin C with Acerola since they can double as breath-fresheners at the end of the evening.
8. I'm told that men over 30 suffer a massive drop in libido but, thankfully, this has yet to happen to me. I know one aging boulevardier who resorted to steroids to cure this problem, finding himself almost immediately with the sexual appetite of a strapping 17-year-old. This solution can have unfortunate side-effects, though. When he eventually stopped using them he grew breasts.
9. Some people I know swear by Alka Seltzer but I've always found the foul-tasting Resolve to be a better bet. The trick here is to take twice the normal dosage and wash them down before you go out with a stiff Scotch. As a general rule, the better the quality of the alchohol you drink, the milder the hangover.
10. Finally, sleeping pills are an essential component of every elderly swinger's washbag. I'm afraid that as you age you need a minimum of seven-and-a-half hours a night and, for this purpose, the junk available over the counter, such as Nytol, just doesn't cut it. Tamezepan is the ticket, preferably 20mgs. The advantage of Tamezepan, or Tammys to use their street name, is that they don't give you a sleeping pill hangover the following morning. After a hard night partying with people half your age it's important to get your beauty sleep, not forgetting to apply your Preperation H just before you retire.