Magazine article The New Yorker

Cherie Amour

Magazine article The New Yorker

Cherie Amour

Article excerpt

Cherie and Tony Blair's union--they fell in love on the upper deck of a bus; he proposed while she was cleaning the toilet--has been a happy one. It almost wasn't. "I actually had a terrible time when Tony and I were first together," Blair recalled last week. She described having to cook dinner for some of his chamber colleagues before they were married. "I was working all day. This was before microwaves. So this was my idea: I would do a stew, or a casserole, in the pressure cooker. Unfortunately, this would be the day that I didn't properly shut the lid. Tony's solution to this problem was to give them all more and more to drink. So by the time this pathetically half-cooked stew finally got to the table everyone was very worse for wear. I thought, Oh my God, he'll never marry me now!" The couple were married in St. John's College Chapel, Oxford, on March 29, 1980. Cherie wore an ivory chiffon dress from the Liberty sale; Tony forgot his underwear. "I fancied him rotten--and still do," she wrote in her memoir, "Speaking for Myself."

Blair was in town last week to promote the institution of marriage, and to mitigate the effects of its demise. She is the president of the Loomba Foundation, a charity that Raj Loomba, a London knitwear magnate, established in 1997, in his mother's honor, to provide support for the world's two hundred and forty-five million widows. The operation has a winningly homegrown feel, and Blair--wearing white kitten-heel pumps, a nubby lavender skirt suit, and a simple gold band (she hates her fingers, so Tony skipped the diamond)--made a seductive, goosey advocate.

Lunch was at Pietro's, in Turtle Bay. A waiter ticked off a list of specials.

"What's scungilli?" Blair inquired.

"Like calamari."

"I'm definitely going to have that," Blair said to her tablemates, who included Loomba, along with a couple of P.R. people. "And then I'm going to have a veal chop."

She turned her attention back to the waiter. "You sold it so beautifully, I already know what I want--apart from you, of course!"

That morning, Blair and Loomba had made the rounds at the United Nations, whose delegations they hope to persuade to recognize each June 23rd--that's the day, in 1954, that Loomba's mother lost her husband--as International Widows Day. …

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