Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Article excerpt

Saturday 1 January 2000 Where shall I begin? With the tickets that didn't arrive? No problem, said the Domeys when I phoned up, you and Mrs Charles can just pick them up on the night. Be at Stratford station at 7.30pm and we'll whisk you to the Millennium Experience as quickly as you can say "Charlie Falconer".

Cheryl, of course, having been a critic of the Dome since its inception (admittedly under the Tories), has come along hoping for disaster. Since the summer she has mentally allocated the Dome money for ten hospitals, two dozen schools and a 20 per cent across-the-board rise for all members of Unison. "It's a crime, Lynton," she says, "to spend money on Body Zones, when real bodies don't have enough to eat!"

So when we get to Stratford's nice new station and find the place in utter chaos, with angry invitees unable to get through because of security, Cheryl is the one person who is utterly delighted. As minutes turn into hours, and none of us can penetrate the adamantine walls of officialdom that we face, she skips up and down the station locating famous people and reporting back to me how fed up they're getting, how they've never been treated this way in their whole lives before and how they're never going to vote new Labour again.

"Isn't that Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian over there, kicking the Cadbury's machine?" she asks, smiling. Or, "I think I've just seen Emma Thompson taken out on a stretcher through cold and fatigue."

I look around. It's like a nightmare. A thousand celebrities and journalists all complaining furiously, some of them with crying children in tow. Des O'Connor is there, as is Zoe Ball; Hugo Young is standing alone with his face set in a furious sulk. All that careful nurturing, all those lunches, all that carefully modulated stroking of egos, all down the pan in one evening. …

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