Mr Keith and I went to have a drink with David Cameron last Monday. OK the truth is that we went to a very crowded room in the new Tory HQ at Millbank, and stood at the back while The Leader addressed about 200 of us crammed into a room designed for at most 50. Reader, all human life was there! First visit to the new HQ ... very nice whitewashed floorboards in reception. And more champagne than I can manage. Unfortunately I have a rule "never say no to champagne", largely because you never know if you'll ever get any more.
Mr C was cool as ever. Normally Keith and I just hang around the back of these events, enjoying the ambience, people-spotting ("oh look! Lord Strathclyde! He's lost weight and he's looking great!" [he was, too]) but this time after the Vote Blue, Go Green baby roundup from David, he toured the room and introduced himself to everyone. Someone had the unenviable task of preceeding him, asking the names of each group of to-be-introduced-ees, then telling David who he was about to meet.
I engaged the leader in 10 minutes of witty badinage at Gordon Brown's expense, and am sure there will be several references to me in the index of his autobiography. Actually, the conversation went like this:
David Cameron [for it was him!] : Hi, where do you two come from?
Me [sweaty with nerves, eyes-bulging at proximity of greatest hope in UK politics &c &c]: Hackney.
Dave [screwing up face] : I'm always in bloody Hackney!
It's true you know. The borough could have been designed as a show-piece for any centre-right politician who wants to show what's wrong with socialism and how we need a bit more social responsibility. There are lots of examples of social responsibility happening in this place, in the teeth of Labour opposition, and it makes a great backdrop when Mr C wants to introduce a political theme.
Sadly I think I didn't make the most amazing impression (I didn't have my Converse trainers on, perhaps it was the fact that Keith chose this moment to launch into a tirade about the fact that we didn't get a Christmas card last year, whereas Michael and Sandra Howard always found the time &c &c) but we had fun. Despite the press he gets, only Keith and I are ever tieless. There's nothing like a gathering of senior Tories for making me feel scruffy. The funny thing is, at work that day, Andy said to me "ooh look at you all dressed up".