Thursday, 18 January 2007

First piece of celebrity gossip on Liberal Polemic (Shock! Horror! Probe)

It’s not often you get to meet two celebrities in a single day, but today was clearly my lucky day!
Having spent an agonising five days not blogging due to a rigorous weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday in the New Forest followed by being obliged to work as though I was being paid for it (which, to be fair, I am), I decided to spend a night with friends at that most salubrious of venues, the Lord Moon on the Mall (aka. the last refuge of the Cabinet Office employee with only a fiver left before pay day).

Now I’ve always thought I’d avoid the urge to approach the famous when they appear at the bar. But then by famous I was usually thinking of Jade Goody or that guy off The Bill. But today I saw two true megastars: Lembit Opik and Gabriela Irimia.

I jest of course: Gabriela is a superstar; Lembit is merely a politician. But as a politics junkie, it was Lembit I recognised first and accidentally bumped into at the bar (thus undermining all my principles as set out in paragraph three).
Now, were this just a piece of crass name-dropping, this posting would be as shameless as an edition of Hello Magazine – to whom Lembit tells me he has given an interview, to be fair. But I feel that having met him I have a right to chip in to comment on a couple of controversies.

Firstly, as I said to him (in my usual subtle way) soon after we met, “Being in a new relationship should be the happiest time in a person’s life. I hope they [the press] haven’t f*cked it up for you!” To which he replied – with what I hope was candour but I fear included an element of courage in the face of adversity – “Not it the slightest. I put it all down to… envy”.

Fair enough, and good luck to him. No matter what you think of him as a politician (and I know members in Derby are furious at him), it’s a disgrace that he should be hounded by the press for that most heinous of sins: splitting up with a partner and going out with another. Of course, he made the mistake of choosing two partners who were both in the public eye, but I guess love really is blind (at least to the pressures of public interest – or opprobrium!).

Secondly – and here I must declare an interest, as he did buy me a pint – he seemed like a decent chap. Now being personable is a characteristic I suspect most politicians share and for which they should be admired rather than blamed. But nonetheless he seemed like a nice guy. What is more, he made all the right liberal noises (with an unprompted lower-case “L”) and was genuinely friendly – he didn’t just chat to me at the bar but invited me back to meet his friends.

And Gabriela? Now I didn’t get much of a chance to chat to her, but it gave me one more insight. Being recently married, I have a radar well-attuned to genuine affection. What I noticed was that not only did he show Gabriela a lot of attention but that, even when not talking to her directly, he would stroke a shoulder or play with her hair. To some this is the stuff that derision is made of. To me this suggests a man who is genuinely fond.

So condemn Lembit if you want for any political indiscretions you may feel he has demonstrated. I am now convinced of the opinion I had formed weeks ago. This latest reason he has reached the headlines is a sorry example of puerile titillation masquerading as journalism. If two people are having a good time good luck to them.

Lembit seemed like a nice enough chap. Judge him on his actions by all means, but don’t base your judgements of his love life. It’s none of your business.


Duncan Borrowman said...

But Lib Dem drinks were in the pub facing across the road!!!

Tristan said...

What Duncan said - and you could have brought him over to see us all ;)

Tom Papworth said...

I didn't even know about them.


ZamMummy said...

In fact they were on the cover of Hello magazine... interestingly, pushed into the top right corner by the interview with Sian Lloyd!?
PS I'm very impressed that you know both the names of Lembit's partner...