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THE MAN WHO BOUGHT MUSTIQUE

A couple of weeks ago, I read in the papers that 83-year-old Lord Glenconner had discovered he had a secret lovechild. I was thrilled to hear new news about Lord Glenconner. The lovechild, now 54, previously thought his dad was an actor from

Emmerdale

, and asked for a paternity test after his mother died. His mother was Henrietta Moraes, who sounded like quite a firecracker: she was an artists' model who had posed for Lucian Freud (who supposedly seduced her over a kitchen sink) and Francis Bacon. She later developed a fondness for amphetamines and Special Brew, before becoming a cat burglar. A perfect match for Lord Glenconner, who she had a brief fling with after meeting him at a party on New Year's Eve in 1954. No disrespect to my own father, but I'd love to discover that Lord Glenconner was my dad. He was born in 1926 as Colin Tennant, although he prefers to go by the title he later inherited. After travelling the world for years, he discovered the little Caribbean island of Mustique, which he bought (for £45,000) in 1958 and then developed, building up agriculture and fisheries. In 1960, newlyweds Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon came to visit, and as a wedding present, he gave a ten-acre plot of land to the Princess. Mustique soon became a millionaires' hideaway; Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfiger, and Bryan Adams have houses there today. Alas, the cost of running the place nearly ruined Tennant, and in 1978 he had to sell up to the island's homeowners and was exiled to the nearby St. Lucia, where he got himself a pet elephant (which reportedly used to steal tourists' food) and ran a restaurant. In 2000, Channel 4 sent a couple of documentary makers to Mustique to get something juicy on what was going on down there. They couldn't find much to report on, but heard about Tennant, who was briefly returning to the island to meet the visiting Princess Margaret, and they decided to make the film about him. "A nightmare", is how they later described their experience, which resulted in

The Man Who Bought Mustique

, a brilliant study of a great British eccentric, and still available on DVD. Tennant, the whole time dressed in a white linen smock and a straw hat, arrives in Mustique with an enormous tent, which he says he's spent two years and $200,000 putting together. He starts complaining almost immediately about everyone and everything, starting with the Mustique officials ("I could spit at them"). The filmmakers follow him as he attempts to control everyone and everything – including them – swanning around his former home berating everyone and everything in sight, regardless of whether or not they've done anything wrong. The filmmakers get the brunt of it, and he barks at them throughout, losing his temper whenever they attempt to get a word in. "I'm getting frightfully tired and terribly angry. Can't you just listen?!" he shouts. Clearly deciding he's got a crew to make a PR film directed by him, he flips out and loses his rag every two minutes. "WILL YOU JUST DO WHAT I SAY!?" he screams. At one point, he hits one of the cowering directors with a satchel and shouts, "TURN THE FUCKING THING OFF!", until we're finally convinced he is indeed The Rudest Man in the World. Though he lets it slip when Princess Margaret turns up, and he comes over all sycophantic and fawning… and shows her some

Kama Sutra

illustrations in his tent. The directors win, as their film comes together in the editing, offering a true portrait of a man by way of all his horrific outbursts. Still, he's a funny old bastard, and you have to admire what he achieved with Mustique, the work of an enterprising visionary. He's currently developing a beachfront village in St Lucia. It's called Glenconner Village.