They do things differently in the Cotswolds

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

The Season has ended and – apart from The Spectator’s summer bash of course – the two bang-up parties of July were discos in the Cotswolds. They do things differently there. At Jemima Goldsmith’s I danced so hard in high heels with a selection of her handsome young swains that I suspect the double hip replacement will be sooner rather than later. At Carrie and Boris’s Daylesford wedding do in a magical flower-filled field we all busted out our best moves. I was taught the slut-drop by Liz Hurley years ago in Nick Coleridge’s party barn in Worcestershire. She demonstrated how to collapse to the floor like a broken deckchair on the count of three. My problem at Daylesford was getting up again – not a challenge shared by my sister-in-law. She could win a Commonwealth gold hands-down in this particular high-risk dance move. I’d kicked off my shoes (to save on physio bills later) but still ripped off a big toenail during the conga. Conclusion: I can no longer slut-drop but I can still name-drop for Britain till the cows come home.

I came back from Tuscany for the wedding bash and I’m not surprised about the staycation boom, as foreign travel is a total mare. Instead of the ‘Schengen wave’, each passport must be scanned and wet-stamped by a person at a desk or in a kiosk in case you overstay your welcome in Europe: i.e. we have a hard border for the first time in my adult life. When Liz ’n’ Rishi were asked whether the cluster shambles at Channel ports was anything to do with Brexit I was stunned when both went for a post-truth,black-is-white, straight-to-camera ‘no’. Astonishing. This at a time when it is harder to leave the country legally than to enter by sea illegally and you can get to Australia faster than France. It seems that Brexit is going the way of true communism. Votaries of the cult will simply announce we just haven’t done it right and tried hard enough. The only consolation is my new not-blue-but-black passport is much more romantic now, with the inked oblongs already saying Innsbruck, Zurich, Pisa, Ibiza. Gained: a schoolboy stamp collection. Lost: the right to transit, and to work and live in 28 countries, in a smug flash of burgundy. The government’s conclusion: worth it.

My solution to any problem is either to follow my late mother’s mantra – ‘It is urgent to do nothing’ – or rush out and play tennis. As an exercise/sport addict I wept tears of joy when the Lionesses won,high blonde ponytails streaming. I came home from work at LBC late on Sunday evening and rewatched the last two hours of the BBC’s coverage properly, again. The team gave a masterclass in how to play the beautiful game and when the Queen declared them an ‘inspiration for girls and women’ in a message sharedwithin minutes of the extra-time win I was itching to tweet Her Maj a correction. Surely the Lionesses’ performance should serve as an inspiration, and a lesson, for boys and men – especially professional footballers – rather than us and our sex? Following my mother’s advice, I manfully resisted the urge.

As London is the epicentre of both theatre and the law it’s not surprising that the two worlds often merge, as they did last week. I went to the Almeida for a sold-out performance of Patriots – the Peter Morgan play about the troika of Vladimir Putin, Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky. In a key scene a High Court judge, Dame Liz Gloster, played by Aoife Hinds, dismisses Boris’s £3.5 billion case against Roman even though by this stage the claimant is a washed-up ex-oligarch and the accused is stooging for Putin. Gripping drama – hat tips to Tom Hollander as Berezovsky, and Will Keen as Putin – but live, real-time competition was two miles down the road in the libel capital of the world, where another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, had just delivered her withering verdict in the Wagatha Christie trial of the century. And as every wag has written… it was Rebekah Vardy’s account after all.

Only one QC I consulted predicted this. He said the judge would work out what she thought the fair answer was – i.e. that Coleen Rooney was correct – ‘then work backwards to exonerate her’. Poor Becky. She will forever be in my heart for her pigeon apothegm, worthy of Eric Cantona at his best, her description of Peter Andre’s chipolata, and for sending my father a hamper after they’d both survived the jungle together. The nation has had months of free-to-air entertainment while she could be on the hook for millions. Oh well. As someone once said, them’s the breaks.

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