Londoner’s Diary: Dowden’s drinks do turns into a knock, knock joke

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Oliver Dowden  (AFP via Getty Images)
Oliver Dowden (AFP via Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Londoner’s Diary. First up we learn Oliver Dowden’s media drinks party in his hotel room at Tory conference didn’t exactly go to plan. Last night we joined historian Tim Bouverie as he launched classical music guide Perfect Pitch and said he’s still struggling to find a woman who he loves more than Mozart. We also listened in as Mike Leigh hit out at woke culture. In SW1A Boris Johnson rallied troops before adding that in the next election the Tories would lose seats where people didn’t think it was possible for Conservatives to lose... inspiring.

SW1A

Tuesday 5 October 2021 16:00 , Robbie Smith

MICHAEL Gove and his team have conspicuously inconspicuous lanyards at Tory conference — because they don’t want to be photographed with the branding of a large property developer, The Londoner hears. The Housing Secretary and his aides are wearing grey and black lanyards, not the standard blue ones with developer Thakeham’s name.

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Boris Johnson won cheers from an audience of Conservative candidates at a reception last night when he told them that the Tories would win seats they had never won before at the next general election. He then added, perhaps speaking before thinking, “and lose seats where people didn’t think it was possible for the Conservatives to lose”. Vibe killer.

Harry’s 40th bash is best bar none

Tuesday 5 October 2021 14:15 , Robbie Smith

Axel Ruger and Batia Ofer (Dave Benett)
Axel Ruger and Batia Ofer (Dave Benett)

AXEL Ruger, the RA boss, joined Art of Wishes fonder Batia Ofer at a private view she hosted at Sotheby’s last night. Across the road at Mayfair’s Harry’s Bar, comic David Walliams partied with director Guy Ritchie to celebrate the venue’s 40th birthday. Patricia Caring, whose husband Richard owns the venue also went, as did eye-catchingly dressed singer Alessandro Ristori. The bar necessities.

Life’s not so sweet in the woke wars

Tuesday 5 October 2021 13:30 , Robbie Smith

Mike Leigh is worried about woke culture. “I have problems with it,” the Vera Drake director told an audience. He worries that young filmmakers, and those backed by publicly funded bodies in particular, are coming up against “excessive woke”. He despairingly recalled a young filmmaker being asked why his cinematographer was male — it’s “questionable to say the very least,” he sighed. “Nobody disagrees with diversity,” Leigh said before telling the 5x15 event: “When box-ticking overtakes the natural inclinations of what people want to say and want to look at… then it becomes unhealthy”.

Sky’s the limit for GB gatecrasher

Tuesday 5 October 2021 13:00 , Robbie Smith

DESPITE a woman being assaulted in the Midland Hotel bar at Tory conference on Sunday, last night it was positively throbbing with young, thrusting men in suits outnumbering the girls eight to one. While Rishi Sunak cut a relaxed figure in one of the hotel’s restaurants, tempers frayed at the Sky party. GB News reporter Tom Harwood sneaked in after no one from the channel was invited — and was thrown out. “A decent grapple,” one partygoer mused to us. But Harwood tells us there was no alteraction — “I just walked out” and cheekily suggested he was persona non grata because ratings for his show on GB News had eclipsed Kay Burley’s on Sky at times in recent weeks.

Tuesday 5 October 2021 12:15 , Robbie Smith

Sir Paul McCartney (Dave Benett)
Sir Paul McCartney (Dave Benett)

PAUL McCartney and John Lennon weren’t wowed by Parisian wine. Former Beatle Sir Paul recalled a hitchhiking trip to Paris where the pair decided it was time to refine their tastes and tried a couple of glasses of red: “It’s like vinegar,” he told the River Café Table 4 podcast. “All these people going on about wine… they’re crazy, we’re sane.” He added: “We never liked wine until we got to London.” Take that, Paris.

Book title is on a Haydn to nothing

Tuesday 5 October 2021 11:30 , Robbie Smith

Historian Tim Bouverie launched classical music guide Perfect Pitch at Hatchards Piccadilly last night. He said that alternate titles “Bach to the Future” and “Play Liszt” were shelved, partly because “nobody had ever heard of Franz Liszt”. Bouverie said his love of classical started young. “I told friends at school that I did not think I would find a woman who I loved more than Mozart,” he said. “And to be frank I’m still struggling.” Form an orderly queue…

Tuesday 5 October 2021 10:21 , Robbie Smith

OLIVER Dowden’s media drinks party in his hotel room at Tory conference didn’t exactly go to plan. Unless the plan was for Cabinet ministers and top journalists to be knocking on the door of a hapless guest at the Midland Hotel asking for entry to the bash on Sunday night.

The Londoner hears Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey and BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg were among those given the duff info, after an unfortunate adviser to Dowden sent guests the wrong room number. A long string of partygoers knocked on the door and the poor man within was reduced to bellowing “hello?” rather than opening the door, at which point attendees realised this was not the Tory party chair’s do. Sources close to Kuenssberg and Coffey deny that when they knocked, a man in his underpants opened the door — and there’s a dispute over who actually rapped their knuckles on the frame.

Dowden’s team, we hear, had to knock on the guest’s door yesterday morning to apologise. One partygoer mused that the if man in the room was key donor Lord Bamford, that might spell trouble for Carrie and Boris Johnson’s burrata supply.

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