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My Night of Shame with Michael Gove

I have never voted Conservative. Nor do I ever plan on doing so. I have met MPs of many persuasions over the years - some of whom I rather liked; others I didn’t. Neither have I ever taken cocaine. I was always more of a Yellow Bentines sort of chap and occasionally dabbled in a wrap or two of Clarky Cat on the rare occasions it became available on the mean streets of Battersea where I misspent my early 20s in a haze of narcotic-fuelled depravity.

Ten years in the music industry without ever trying cocaine must be a record but I quickly realised that I was enough of an annoying twat without certain class-A drugs so decided to leave that particular activity to everybody else while I watched their absurdity with a judicious eye. So I have absolutely never taken cocaine with Michael Gove, but I HAVE spent a day and evening with him. It was over 30 years ago, it was a mistake that I deeply regret and I don’t encourage anyone else to try it.

We find ourselves at Oxford University and the stag weekend of a dear friend (then and still) and student of that parish. As regular readers will have noticed, the weekend comprised around 20 young men, many Oxbridge graduates or soon-to-be graduates, involved in high jinks including paintball during which I managed to shoot a young Michael Gove in the testicles. This remains a source of great pride to this day and one which I trust he remembers as fondly as I do.

The evening’s entertainment involved a meal in a hired room above a restaurant in nearby Woodstock. Dress code was black tie. Being from a provincial university, I had to look this up but having ventured into Moss Bros for the first time ever, I considered myself suited, booted and ready.

The meal itself was lavish yet unmemorable. Fine wine was drunk. Port was opened (again, being from a place of higher learning in the North, I had to get used to the complex ‘passing’ rituals but managed to master them without embarrassment), no furniture was smashed up, no farm animals were abused and no waiting staff threatened, at least not within earshot. And these were the days before mobiles phones could record everything and anything so the opportunities for misbehaviour were limitless.

Finally, some speeches to end the evening and Michael Gove got up to speak. Reader, it was the funniest speech I can ever remember hearing, so much so that I very nearly weed myself. Sadly, the sheer amount of alcohol consumed plus the distance of years means that I can recall none of it. But let us hope that if Mr Gove does become our next PM, he hasn’t lost his sense of humour.