Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Party Indicator Heralds Recovery

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Party Indicator Heralds Recovery

Article excerpt

Byline: Anne McElvoy

ADREAM assignment or what? A 48 hour party odyssey to find out if London is returning to its self-diverting ways, after the doldrums of recession. If cancelling Christmas parties was the way to show corporate social responsibility, summer 09 knows no such constraints. Never mind the IMF or the Bank of England, the Party Indicator is heralding recovery.

Wednesday and Thursday were the big nights out. The parties were political, social and charitable, while last night fashion's Who's Who turned out for Bella Freud's Hoping's Got Talent evening for Palestinian children.

The only decision for the seriously social was what to attend in what order -- and what sort of dress code would do the business for serious political gatherings, masked balls and a Belle Epoque tribute -- never mind the dizzy blur of afterparties.

We started at the Courvoisier masked ball in the Natural History Museum. Jokes about dinosaurs obligatory. Everything's in aid of something nowadays. This one was for Boris Johnson's Mayor's Fund to tackle poverty among children and young people in the capital.

Social translation: big night out for bankers in need of a jolly after all those nasty headlines.

Mr Johnson does so love a banker. He left the be-masked hordes in no doubt that he still has Gordon Gekko tendencies, praising their wealth-creating ways and lambasting "the mindless persecution" of the banking breed. Gosh. Are there guillotines I don't know about erected in the Square Mile? He never stops campaigning -- for himself: "I may be the only Tory to do so but I will speak out against the top tax rate of 50p in the pound because it will drive out business," he added. Loud cheers. Mr Johnson is already setting himself up as the "only Tory" to speak pleasing truths unto the wealthy. And how they love it.

Wisely he did not want to be photographed in a mask, thus denying Ken Livingstone a propaganda triumph for the next election campaign. It didn't stop him being photographed quite happily in the company of some scantily clad wood nymphs suspended from the ceiling. Hard work, Boris, but someone's got to do it.

A bottle of Courvoisier he'd signed went for [pounds sterling]1,000 and a Banksy rat for [pounds sterling]10,000. Not much crunch in this lot's credit.

Across town at Old Billingsgate, the Conservatives were holding their summer bash. Tory bashes are nowadays held in conspicuously non-posh places. Spin-meister Andy Coulson has the Sloanes of Central Office in a state of twitchiness about appearing to be champagne guzzling and rah-rahing while the economy totters. "No champagne and no dancing," says one guest mournfully. Truly, Conservative social life today makes the Amish look like a wild night out. They perk up only when Dave comes by. …

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