The Mandarin Oriental isn’t what it was. Fortunately, I am, at my own request, placed on a table at the back with Camilla, Bill Deedes and Gary Lineker, and have made it quite clear that I do not want to have to interact with the ‘guest of honour’. Lineker proves to be an excellent political commentator and mimic.
John Redwood says “She spoke extremely well and she spoke generously about all the people who had helped her doing what she did in the 1980s." “Yes,” says Lineker in a remarkable Churchill voice “giving up their jobs and money, to help bankrupt the nation.” This is all very well, but as you all know, it doesn’t take much to make Camilla guffaw like a parakeet with a ruptured colon. I am able to hide behind a pillar while Cecil Parkinson glares in our direction. At least, I think it is a glare, maybe the old roué is on the pull and has mistaken the duchess of Cornwall for one of the ladies of the night that are standard fare at Tory party parties.
Lineker can also throw his voice, and I have to admit that it was more than a little funny to see Lloyd Webber square up to Michael Howard, being under the impression that he was the source of the “fat cunt” comment.
Deedes seems to think that he is sharing a table with Quinton Hogg, Edith Summerskill and Gerald Nabarro, and none of us has the heart to disillusion him. This is not altogether unreasonable: he is not the first to confuse the ex Mrs PB with Lord Hailsham. Although I can report first hand that it is no fun being addressed as “Baronessssh Sshummershkill”.
I am more than a little surprised when Phil turns up. He loathed the old bag more than Liz ever did, despite sharing the same political views. He was forever complaining about having Family Fortunes interrupted by Mrs T’s visit to the palace in the 1980’s. “Can’t the silly tart come during the day time like the rest of the tradesmen,” he would ask, “who the fuck does she think she is?”
I manage to persuade that odious little shit Archer that Caspar Weinberger is a powerful
Eventually, I manage to rescue Liz, “Let’s nip out the back way, lovey,” I say in my gentlest voice, “no one will dare say anything if you don’t come back.” She is a little worried that Phil and Camilla will show her up if we leave them both unsupervised, but the sight of Thatcher heading our way, looking as if she is intent on starting a conversation is sufficient incentive to get her to grab her crown and coat from the cloakroom, tip the doorman 10p, and slip home via Hyde Park, yelling “Oi, fuck off” at unsuspecting far eastern tourists.
I slip Iron Maiden, who are providing the music, ten quid, and tell them that one of Thatcher’s favourite tunes is “The Red Flag”.