Penny Lancaster whipped out her police warrant card and arrested me…
Tuesday, September 14
I haven’t seen Boris Johnson in person since he won the General Election nearly two years ago and we found ourselves on the same stairwell at Rupert Murdoch’s Christmas party.
‘BORIS! You can come out of the fridge now!’ I yelled then, mocking the fact he’d run and hid in a giant freezer, live on air, when we tried to interview him on Election eve.
‘MORGAN! YOU SCOUNDREL!’ he bellowed back.
That night, he radiated the carefree ebullience that comes from a thumping victory.
But as one of his predecessors, Harold Macmillan, once observed when asked what the most difficult thing was about being Prime Minister: ‘Events, dear boy, events.’
There have been few bigger ‘events’ for any PM to deal with than the coronavirus pandemic, not least because Covid nearly killed Boris, too.
And when I spied him again tonight at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards – which paid tribute to our heroic NHS and care home staff – he looked an exhausted, beaten-up, miserable shadow of that guy I’d seen on the stairs.
I put this down to pressures of the job.
When I spied Boris Johnson (above) again tonight at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards he looked an exhausted, beaten-up, miserable shadow of that guy I’d seen on the stairs
But then I suddenly remembered that his mother Charlotte, the matriarch of his family, died yesterday aged 79. That was why he looked so sad and distracted.
I tapped him on the shoulder.
‘Good evening, Prime Minister.’
Boris looked up wearily from his seat, then half-smirked when he saw it was me.
‘Piers, how good to see you,’ he sighed, bracing himself for my habitual lame joke at his expense. But I had no jokes this time.
‘I just want to say that I’m so terribly sorry about your mother,’ I said.
Boris’s smirk instantly dropped, his cheeks tensed, then he nodded, shook my hand, and replied: ‘Thank you. Thank you very much.’
In that moment, I didn’t see the divisive leader that I’ve unsparingly hammered for his often woefully bad handling of this crisis, I just saw a guy who’d lost his mum and was trying very hard not to show how devastated he was.
‘Being Prime Minister is a lonely job,’ Margaret Thatcher once said.
Never must it have seemed lonelier than tonight for Boris Johnson, besieged by jovial selfie-hunters as he sat in the middle of a 400-strong audience at Camden’s Roundhouse that included Prince William, his Cabinet colleagues Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, and stars including David Beckham, Rod Stewart, and Chris Evans.
Of course, if he’d pulled out of attending, the headlines would have been ‘heartless Boris snubs healthcare heroes’. Such is the brutal reality of running the country.
The show – filmed for Channel 4 – was expertly presented by Davina McCall (after she fluffed one line and then redid it perfectly to loud cheers, she quipped: ‘I’ve still got it – nobody wants it, but I’ve still got it.’) who warned me early from the stage: ‘Don’t get rowdy Piers!’
Not much danger of that given I’m still enduring post-Covid malaise nine weeks after catching the Delta variant so barely drink anymore because I can’t smell or taste alcohol, or much food. I also have constant, very irksome, fatigue.
This ‘Long Covid’ is affecting millions of people in myriad ways yet very little is known about how to successfully treat it.
Both Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, and Health Secretary Javid told me tonight that there’s not much I can do other than get plenty of rest and wait for it to go as it eventually seems to in most cases.
Though Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the brilliant Oxford vaccine group, offered some cheerful perspective when he told me: ‘Piers, if I were you, I’d be more concerned about something like the plague returning with a 30-60 per cent death rate. We have to take this pandemic as a massive wake-up call.’
I sat next to Gary Lineker, who to my delight was later introduced as ‘a football star from last century’, and seven-year-old award-winner Carmela Chillery-Watson who has walked hundreds of miles dressed as Wonder Woman and raised £50,000 for charity, despite having muscular dystrophy.
She’s a fantastically strong-willed and inspiring young lady, full of naughty jokes and entirely lacking in self-pity. We need more Carmelas in the world and less whiny celebrities playing the victim over trivial nonsense.
In fact, we need more Carmelas and more celebrities like Kate Garraway, who was also on my table and who I hadn’t seen since I left GMB. We had a massively long hug.
‘How’s your Long Covid going?’ asked the woman whose husband Derek is still fighting for his life but who never complains about their dreadful family plight and constantly thinks of others, not herself, despite existing off three hours sleep a night.
‘Not good…,’ I began to answer, then I stopped. Kate really didn’t need to hear me moaning about not being able to taste fine wine and feeling a bit knackered.
Though I did summons up one last whinge during an exchange with England footballer Tyrone Mings who said: ‘The Euro final was an amazing experience but I just wish I’d been able to be in the crowd, too – the atmosphere was incredible!’
‘Trust me, you don’t,’ I replied. ‘I was in the crowd that night – and caught Covid!’
As I chatted with Rod Stewart and his wife Penny, I congratulated her on becoming an active special constable with City of London Police. She pulled out her warrant card to jokily arrest me – ‘for being Piers Morgan’.
As I chatted with Rod Stewart and his wife Penny (above), I congratulated her on becoming an active special constable with City of London Police
‘It’s a great cover story,’ I said. ‘Does your husband still believe that’s where you’re going in the middle of the night dressed as a policewoman carrying handcuffs?’
Rod burst out laughing.
The highlight of an enjoyable and very moving evening came when a group of fans asked Vernon Kay to take my photo with them – a task he fulfilled with the fakest grin since Holly Hunter wildly over-celebrated losing an Oscar to Anna Paquin.
Source: Read Full Article