In my eagerness to avoid adding to my father's list of enemies, I broke the law and handed out a false name
The motto of any normal teenager is act first, think later, so I don't blame Euan Blair for lying to the police. His first instinct, when caught, would have been to protect his father. I know this from personal experience. Ten years ago, when my father challenged Margaret Thatcher for the Tory leadership, I drove down to Henley to take my grandmother out for dinner. Her loud condemnation of Norman Tebbit in a restaurant full of diners simmering with anti-Heseltine fury was as embarrassing as the car accident I had on the way. It was tiny, really, a little roll down a hill into the car in front of me, and it was unquestionably my fault. But, in my eagerness to avoid adding to my father's list of enemies, I broke the law, handing out a false name to my victim, and paying over the odds on the spot.
A few days later, after a West End dinner, I strolled into a Soho nightclub, Madame Jojo's, to watch my friend Issi van Randwyck perform in an otherwise all-male transvestite cabaret. That night, I heard a loud stage-whisper from behind me: "You shouldn't be here." Panic-stricken, I imagined the headlines - "Heseltine's daughter caught in Soho strip joint" (they always exaggerate) - and, wary of leaving through the front entrance in case somebody had already called a newspaper, I bolted backstage. Two of the very tall cast members bundled me into a tiny, airless dressing room. I spent the next two hours passing out huge falsies, spangled pussy pelmets and glossy red stilettos as they changed in the corridor between acts. The guys were fantastic, smuggling me out after the show through the fire exit. Where, I wonder, on that miserable night in Leicester Square, were Euan Blair's friends?
Last year, Quentin Letts decided to have a dig at the children of famous politicos in the pages of this paper. Up to a point, we are fair game. If we are to be rolled out in front of Tuscan villas or Palladian mansions, then it seems only fair that, now and again, we should be the butt of a few buffoons. But sometimes, it's a banter too far. Six years ago, I returned from Africa, proud of my front-page scoop on the civil war in Rwanda for a Sunday paper, only to discover that an armchair journalist from a London newspaper had asked her readers: "What has Rwanda done to deserve a Heseltine?"
When thousands were being slaughtered every day, and it was only the attention attracted by a handful of journalists that finally, and far too late, brought outside help, I failed to appreciate her witticisms. As for Quentin Letts's accusation that I used my name to write about ectopic pregnancies, I have yet to see the funny side of this. I had two, followed by a miscarriage, and wrote about my experience in order to publicise the largest centre in Europe for recurring miscarriages at St Mary's hospital, Paddington. If people who can communicate their experiences can help others, far be it for me to hide my name under a bushel.
I don't know why Mo Mowlam thinks the royals should move out of Buckingham Palace in the interests of being more in tune with modern society. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Palace for a charity tennis tournament in aid of the NSPCC's Full Stop campaign to end cruelty to children. I witnessed not only the off-court spat between Liz Hurley and Anna Kournikova (won by the former - game, set and match for dignity); but also the novelty of Her Majesty's home being used as a networking centre, with name-cards being swapped across the silver. Her Majesty's subjects have brought modern society to her.
The latest silly idea this government has come up with is to suggest that surgeons should no longer be allowed to earn some extra pennies from private practice. Doesn't it realise that, without their private work, many of them could not afford to work for the NHS? It would deter the brightest of surgeons from entering the profession and chase them out of the public sector as soon as they have finished their training. Historically, academics were forbidden to practise privately, but now some of the more modern colleges have changed their minds in tune with the old adage: you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
At the blessing of our marriage 18 months ago, my husband and I asked six friends to read a passage from a religious text chosen from their own faith: Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. What struck us most was the similarity of each message. So when the Cumbrian vicar Malcolm Stonestreet asked me to compere the launching of the United Religions Initiative UK at the Dome in August, I was delighted to accept.
Paradoxically, it was two men, diametrically opposed on the scales of good and evil, who caused me to think about the need for greater communication between different religions. The Dalai Lama advised me not to change religions unless I was already an atheist. "It would do your head in," he had said, digging his finger into his temple and twisting it in a gesture of insanity. Hassan al-Turabi, until recently the power behind the Sudanese leader, General al-Bashir, is a dangerously committed Islamic fundamentalist. Once, however, during an interview conducted in Khartoum and surrounded by bodyguards, he asked me why it was that the west did not make more effort to understand his faith? To a man who is responsible for the deaths and torture of so many, it is unanswerable; but if a "global world charter" brings two men such as these together in peace, then it's almost worth a lunch at the Dome.