Anyone Seen Natasha Kaplinsky? Election Night Is like New Year's Eve, Writes Rachel Cooke, the Best Party Is Always Somewhere Else
Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)
In a funny way, election nights remind me of New Year's Eve: the action always seems to be somewhere else. You feel this as you sit at home in front of the telly, tube of Pringles in one hand, glass of wine in the other, and you feel it even when you are at the biggest and best parties. Courtesy of the editor of this paper, on Thursday night, I left my house with a clutch of weighty invitations in my bag, and a slightly smug smile on my face. Ha!
Finally, I was going to be in the right place at the right time, drinking champagne rather than cut-price cava from Majestic Wine, and nibbling on sashimi rather than home-made cupcakes with special red icing.
Which just goes to show how wrong you can be. Cut to 10.30pm, when I arrive at the Silver Sturgeon, moored at the foot of the London Eye, and venue for the ITV election-night party. A more peculiar gathering it would be hard to imagine. To my left is Maureen Lipman, sharing a banquette with Tony Benn. To my right is Joan Collins, resplendent in Pucci, with her husband Percy Gibson and Nicholas Parsons, who probably would be wearing Pucci, too, if he were allowed. Also in attendance are Elaine Paige, Max Clifford and Angela Rippon. Alistair McGowan is standing alone on the dance floor doing his world-class impression of a man who takes himself very seriously indeed. I smile at him, hoping he will mistake me for someone important. I would love to know his satirical thoughts on Hornsey and Wood Green. He blanks me.
Early doors, I know, but this party has all the atmosphere of a Ferrero Rocher ad (only without the chocolates, alas). Once Sunderland is in, I scarper. I make first to a party at the Institute of Directors, which is being thrown by Thames Water and a PR company. A bad idea. "Are you the entertainment?" asks the man on the door, a note of rising panic in his voice. Inside, I could be at a convention of estate agents. I cut my losses and whip round the corner to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, where a queue snakes outside, and the cartoonist Martin Rowson is doing sterling work trying to keep a rowdy bar amused. …