Television parties are best given a miss, I find – all those carrot dips give me wind, and TV reporters look so poor in their nasty trainers and shorts – but last night I popped along to ITV’s charming do for Sir Trevor McDonald’s new show Britain’s Favourite View in which viewers will get to vote for the best of 16 British beauty spots, each promoted by a celeb. I liked the venue, on a boat called the Silver Sturgeon moored off the Savoy Pier. I wondered whether to pop into the Savoy afterwards for a cognac, but actually the party had sufficient provisions to send me off in a foggy and unfarting condition.
I had scarcely traversed the gangplank and who should I bump into but the Right Honourable Charles Kennedy MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Instantly I applauded his summery cream suit which might even have met with Anna Wintour’s approval after an ironing. “Charles,” I said, “what are you doing here – and what are you drinking?” Oops! Me and my faux pas! I could see it was probably mineral water, but how was I to know there might not be gin or vodka in it? Charles smoothly emitted a sound like laughter to lighten my impertinence. I noticed he wasn’t smoking and wanted to examine his teeth for signs of nicotine yellowing. But he doesn’t part his mouth much and his lips cling to his toothies with a condom-like tenacity.
He told me that he was one of the presenters on the show and had flown to the Isle of Skye to do a 15 minute film on why viewers should vote for Loch Coruisk as Britain’s favourite view. “So how do you fancy your chances? Think Skye can win?” I asked. He replied, after pulling a puzzled look, “I haven’t got a clue how all the voting works, to be honest.” Isn’t that typical of Charles? Didn’t he once, towards the end of his time as leader, betray something less than total intimacy with his party’s tax policy proposals. It’s all such a shame.
Perhaps it was the sight of me but I have to say he didn’t look happy. He was due to give a little speech after a 40-minute “clip” was screened – to such general boredom that most had returned to the bar by the time it ended. That, in a nutshell, is why mainstream TV is on the slide – it’s soooo normal. So Charles didn’t give a speech, thank God. After that he just wandered about like a shy dodgem on a sedative, nodding at the odd acquaintance, but otherwise looking a little lost.
As he exited I waved him a goodbye but he just gave me a long inquisitive stare before his walk along Embankment, a thin figure among fat foreign tourists.