On the fringes with Elizabeth Stewart


On the fringes with Elizabeth Stewart, editor

Topless Red Tops

Diplomats have been lamenting the “indelicate” press coverage of the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, during the State Visit. At a reception one diplomat was overheard asking another: “Have you seen the coverage of the State Visit today?” To which his colleague responded, “What coverage?” To which a third quipped: “If you’re talking about The Sun, there was very little coverage indeed…”

Good things come to those who wait

…Journalists were out in force at the Irish Embassy’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations, hoping for a repeat of last year’s “indelicate” behaviour by a certain member of the clergy. They were disappointed, but the party was still an excellent “Big Game Spotting” opportunity. Peter Hain turned up, and told us he was spending his free time clearing his name; Shadow Home Secretary David Davis arrived cock-a-hoop after watching Alastair Darling squirm at his first Budget Speech. And Paddy Ashdown was there, being gracious as guests told him he should be in Kabul. All the while, reporters circled, waiting for the plentiful Guinness to loosen tongues. Well the advert does say, “Good things come to those who wait.”

Queue camaraderie

…And wait we did in the queue for the Kuwaiti reception. It’s a very underrated form of diplomatic networking: you can find out astonishing facts in a reception queue. Standing in line, we watched some guests already leaving, prompting a debate on hasty exits. One guest revealed her former ambassador was a pro at the quick exit. “We started timing him. Do you know what his record was? Eighteen seconds!”

…And queue blues

Sadly for football fans, they will be spending more than 18 seconds in the visa queue outside the Russian Consulate. We hear Russian consuls are praying that the English clubs are knocked out of the Champions’ League finals being held in Moscow, otherwise they could be faced with more visa applicants in three weeks than they get in a whole year.