Face-for-radio Chris Cook is leaving the Pink’un to become policy editor at Newsnight. Regular readers will remember Chris from his fair and balanced reporting of a certain Pearson-owned exam board, as well his long, long, long vendetta against Michael Gove, after working for his predecessor in the Tory education brief David Willetts. Seriously though, Guido and Chris settled differences over many beers not long ago in some trendy media hangout we both happened to be in. He wishes him the best of luck. The ‘semi-Tory’ is jumping just as the FT flirts with switching back to Labour…
From: Chris Whitehouse
Subject: Guy Fawkes Supper
Catholic Members’ Supper
Tuesday 5th November 7.30pm
Venue Private Room in a venue not too far from the House
Rob Flello has suggested that we hold the next in our series of Catholic Members’ Suppers on 5th November.
I am currently researching venues to find a private room within a short distance of the Palace of Westminster which is accessible also for wheelchair users. I will advise on the venue and costs (which I shall seek to keep down) in due course, but would be grateful if you could let me know now if you would like to book a place pending confirmation of final details.
With kind regards and all good wishes.
Chris Whitehouse KSG
Catholic Legislators’ Network UK
What could go wrong?
New LibDem chief whip Don Foster should learn when to keep his mouth shut. While topping up his legendary booze cabinet in Westminster Tesco’s early yesterday afternoon, a far from salubrious looking Foster treated himself to 40 black Superkings and a tin of Roses. Lucidly chatting with a flirty woman in a lovely grey tracksuit, Foster bragged to his mystery lady friend how he had kept the LibDems in line over yesterday’s nuclear announcement despite her claims that “it’s basically a subsidy”. It’s not really the job of chief whip to publicly agree that there were internal party ructions. Then again, that is what you get if you appoint your third choice chief…
Eventually Osborne’s friendship with Natalie Rowe comes to an end, with her claiming she met his then fiancée:
My pregnancy also changed the dynamics between me and my three musketeers. George became quite caring towards me. It was a particularly cold winter and sometimes George sat with me, cosy on the sofa in Redcliffe Square and rubbed my pregnant tummy – even when other people were there. George was self-conscious of his figure – he would wear loose clothes to try and hide his belly, which was a bit flabby and spongy. Every now and then I’d comment: “Why are you wearing this? To hide your jelly-belly?” and would reach over and rub it playfully. I really appreciated George’s friendship because the pregnancy wasn’t smooth. At five months, I started to dilate and have contractions – and there was some bleeding. I rushed to the hospital and doctors put a stitch at the neck of my womb to stop labour. It was a risky move but if the baby had arrived then he wouldn’t have lived. The procedure worked and so I still held out hopes of giving birth to a healthy child. Then George got engaged to Frances, his future wife. I found out when I was at Chris’s place in Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill. William was on a bender at the time and Chris and George were there with a woman whom I didn’t know. I had no idea she was George’s fiancée. We did not get on at all. Thanks to George she knew what I did and asked about my escort services. She was hostile, full of disdain for me and jealous of how friendly George and I were. Afterwards George asked: “What do you think of her?” “What do you mean?” My face told the story. He didn’t ask anything more. George was obviously making plans for his future, to become respectable. He’d certainly been privy to some wild times in his youth; not least of which would have been the infamous Bullingdon Club parties.
Osborne has not commented about the book, though his lawyers told the Mirror that Rowe was an unreliable witness. In the past he has claimed:
“A friend of mine went out with a woman called Natalie and they had a child together. I met them occasionally in the autumn of 1993 and it soon became clear my friend had started to use drugs. He became more and more addicted and I saw his life fall apart. With his other friends I tried to persuade him to seek treatment. After rehabilitation he has now recovered and put his life back together.”
So he’s not “Joe”. Got that?
More from Natalie Rowe’s book. Here is what she alleges the Chancellor’s set were up to in the early 90s:
“All the boys had the hots for coke fiend Peggy, she was so much fun and up for anything, even if she spent most of her time on another planet. They all knew how much she loved coke and so one night William, who was an out-and-out drug and drink fiend, cut a wide line that was a foot long. “Snort that and I’ll give you £ 100!” William said. “I’ll do it!” Cheers went up from the crowd. I was the only one to sound a note of caution. “For god’s sake Peggy, don’t do it, you’ll do yourself an injury.” She ignored me, bent down and started snorting as the men chanted “Pegg-y! Pegg-y! Pegg-y!” as if it were a drinking game. She finished the line but her triumph left her near-comatose, speechless and cross-eyed for the rest of the night.”
And then they found out what Rowe did for a living:
“I let them in and told them to wait., forgetting about the domination gear. When I got back William was pretending to whip George, while Chris was sword fighting with the cane. “What’s all this Nat?” Chris asked. I smiled. Confession time. “I’m a dominatrix.” They were impressed. “Tell us what you get up to!” So I told them some stories about clients. They bombarded me with questions. “So how much do you charge?” George asked me. “It depends on a few things, on their pain threshold, how much work is involved, and so on but there’s a basic rate to start.” They loved to hear what was going on and I enjoyed telling them. They certainly hadn’t met anyone like me before. The trio started to hang around in the flat while I was working and would sometimes even meet clients after they’d been through a session. They’d chat together with them about domination over a drink. George really enjoyed this; it was as if he was sharing in their experience with me.”
Still no news on the identity of “Joe”…
According to Natalie Rowe’s memoirs, George Osborne used to be quite the dancer:
“The three musketeers were proper little ravers and loved to go clubbing. When George got tipsy, he lost his reserve and wanted to dance (I have a photo of him dancing at a party at my flat). He was a terrible dancer but wasn’t alone. I used to cringe when we went clubbing with the three musketeers and their friends. I couldn’t bring myself to share the dancefloor with them – just imagine tipsy public schoolboys at a disco doing robot impressions. The higher they got, the better they thought they were. George loved We Could Be Heroes by David Bowie and the three musketeers would sing it together top of their voices on the dance floor. George also adored Gold by Spandau Ballet. George didn’t have much of dress sense, neither did he make an effort to dress up – he just wore jeans and T-shirt.”
Yet he was sensitive:
“Although George never once said anything like: “I really hate what they’re saying,” at the time (I suppose he thought he’d be better off saving his energy – there was no chance of him making them stop), he was the most upset of the three and this made me feel close to him. Perhaps George was more upset because some of his acquaintances were racist towards Jews (George, who is Jewish, was christened Gideon and changed his name when he was a teenager to ‘fit in’). They’d say, “Shut up you f**king Jew,” to describe anyone they thought was being stingy. When we were alone George told me he couldn’t understand why I was with William; he said we just weren’t compatible.”
A fighter, not a quitter:
“I went and sat with George on the sofa. George couldn’t hold his own in conversation with his peers, which is why we ended up talking a lot together – we would share the fact that we didn’t have a clue, nor were we interested in what the others were going on about – arts, politics and the social shenanigans of the landed gentry. We were passing comment on somebody at the party when I leant over to whisper something to him and playfully licked his ear. William appeared. He’d seen what was going on and was pissed off. “What are you guys talking about?” he asked angrily. “Calm down William,” George said. “You’re letting your paranoia get the better of you.” The argument escalated quickly. When George tried to stand up William pushed him back down into the sofa. George then made a grab for William and they started tussling with one another. As I leapt out of the way the sofa tipped over and they rolled out onto the floor, still fighting – although it was the hugging-and-rolling type rather than the punching-and-kicking kind of fight. I thought it was hilarious. “Come on, stop it, this is ridiculous!” By the time they’d calmed down and made up, nobody had thrown a punch.”
More to come…
The Chancellor is only commenting through his lawyers – who dismiss Natalie Rowe as a dodgy witness – but the former hooker from that photo has her book out today. Guido will bring you some key extracts today, suitable for a family blog.
Their first meeting:
“Chris met George Osborne while at Oxford; they were both members of the infamous Bullingdon Club. By the time I started seeing William, the three of them were close friends and often turned up at my place together. I called them my ‘Three Musketeers’. Individually, William was ‘Willie Wonka’, George was ‘Georgie Porgie’ and Chris was ‘Christopher Robin’. George first arrived at my place with Chris, along with his friend Philip Delves Broughton, a writer for the New York Times. George was an attractive 22-year-old and it was immediately clear that girls considered him to be highly eligible – they were always vying for his attention. I thought he was quite good-looking but much preferred William. At this time George didn’t show any signs of the defiant character he went on to display as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Chris and William teased him about his background, that he was the “son of a curtain salesman” (his father is the co-founder of Osborne & Little, the fabric and wallpaper designers) and because he didn’t go to Eton. George took it without complaint; he had this ‘look’ he would give me that said ‘How pathetic are they?’”
Osborne gets naked:
“On one particularly drunken evening at my flat in Prince of Wales Terrace, I made a bet with George, Chris and William that they would strip off naked, run out the door, down the street to a building that was fifty metres away and back again. The first one back would get a ‘prize’. Eventually, after a bit of cajoling, the three of them agreed, stripped off and waited by the front door. “Ready?” I said, my hand on the door handle. “Set… Go!” I threw open the door and off they ran down the front steps, bottoms wobbling as they pounded down the street. And, of course, I locked the door and went back inside. I watched as they came running back, cheering them on. They all arrived more or less at the same time and couldn’t believe what I’d done to them. “Please let me back in!” the future Chancellor of the Exchequer pleaded. They all begged, hands over their willies, and I just watched, laughing. I laughed so much that I collapsed and thought I might even wee myself. Luckily for them, my building was in a quiet cul-de-sac. I gave them a good few minutes, which must have seemed like hours, god knows what any passer-by would have made of three naked men standing in the street. Finally, when I’d decided they’d had enough, I let them back in. They loved it and were all laughing afterwards – they’d enjoyed the joke.”
Rowe is very clear that the character of “Joe”, a young politician with the safe word “Mary” is not Osborne.
Though regular readers will remember the word “Louise” from a while back…
Lord Ashcroft’s ability to troll the Prime Minister knows no ends. When he’s not pouring claret down Tom Watson’s throat he’s lunching another former insider Cameron threw to the wolves:
Guido would not like to suggest that Boris and Gove had wet the Royal Baby’s head last night, though then again these photos do suggest they were in somewhat jovial spirits after a dinner at Scotts:
Boris clearly just fancied a stroll rather than riding his bike home, while Gove’s difficulty walking in a straight line can obviously be explained by the heat:
… Though not many. The baronetcy heir apparent tests the effects on the working man of his 1p cut to the price of beer, pulling a pint for Tom Watson in parliament’s Strangers bar last night. Sampling the latest from his local brewery, called Pennies from Eleven apparently.[…]