Rob Rinder: A busy week — I’ve fallen hard for a woman and broken the ice with Alastair Campbell

·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

Having put on a certain amount of “Monster Munch and Scotch” weight over lockdown, it was time for a hyper-intense fitness experience. So I quickly found a perfect-sounding bootcamp in Ibiza. Good diet and hard grinding beside the sparkling Med, I thought — that’ll shift my troublesome tonnage.

I got in touch and they soon confirmed. It was only later, when I enquired about flights, that our tangle of crossed wires was revealed. “No flights needed,” they said, “We’re in Norfolk.” I checked the weather — seven soggy days of East Anglian gloom. But I’d agreed by then and so, like much of my sex life, I just decided to go through with it to avoid embarrassment.

Of course, it was incredible. I’ve got much fitter, lost loads of jiggle and — best of all — made a friend fiercer than me (a first). She’s the amazing Sarah Willingham, empress of Dragons’ Den. She’s also London’s cocktail queen and is an intoxicating blend herself: a shot of Sheryl Sandberg with a jigger of GI Jane, garnished with the glossiest hair from every shampoo advert ever. As you can probably tell, I adore her.

She’s also let me in on her latest economic predictions. According to her, the bars of London are heading for a post-Covid megabounce. I don’t doubt it … you may get your fiscal forecasting from the FT or the Wall Street Journal, but I prefer mine from a woman with buttocks firm enough to open beer bottles.

Speaking of using body parts as kitchen appliances: Alastair Campbell’s abs. Let me explain. I was interviewed by him on TV last week. He’s never really been my cup of tea (I just can’t imagine him putting up scaffolding) but I happen to know he appears in many surprising erotic fantasies (they won’t admit it publicly, but many of my girlfriends fancy him rotten).

When I’d finished telling him about my new show (Crime Stories, now on ITV), I brought up the fact that we both swim at the excellent Parliament Hill lido. On the plus side, I was able to reveal to the world that his abs are impressive enough to cut hard cheese. But I also had to pick a bone with him. Where others at the lido will cheerfully chat to fellow paddlers, Mr Campbell gives everyone his undivided indifference. As I told him, he’s like an aquatic Margaret Thatcher. Happily, he’s mended his ways; I received a very sweet video from the water promising he’ll say hello to me next time. He may even wave to some of his girl fans.

So, if you get to the lido at sun-up, not only will you get a magnificent swim, you’ll also be able to find me teaching Alastair some political common sense and comparing our tummies.

I need to invest in a cigarette holder to come up with Princess Margaret-style quips

I’m a long-time devotee of the perfect quip. It’s one of the reasons I loved Princess Margaret. She was always able to throw out some exquisite aside as the smoke from her cigarette — snug in its holder — floated around her. Occasionally I hear one so good it requires passing on. One of my fellow bootcampers was an eminent barrister, the sort of badass who leaves judges quaking in their wigs. I happened to mention how wonderful her skin was. “Oh, thank you”, she sighed politely. “Does it run in the family?’ I asked. “It does rather,” she replied, with regal poise. “So your mother had good skin?” “Well yes,” said my friend drily … “she died young.” Flawless. I wish I could come up with lines like that. Perhaps I just need to invest in a cigarette holder.

Have you ever tried a fitness bootcamp? Let us know in the comments below.

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