Though Christine Hamilton intimidates me, I wanted to give her a hug when I saw her on Newsnight

I feel, and surprisingly I am not alone, rather sorry for the Hamiltons. They have been royally stitched up because of previous misdemeanours and because they make good copy. Who is responsible seems unclear at the moment, but I am sure the main culprits will come out in the wash: the police, the press, the opportunist, Max Clifford? I have always been intimidated by Christine - her hair, her suit, her voice, being married to a man who has a penchant for bow ties - but watching Newsnight I rather wanted to hug her. They have been deeply wronged and accused of a foul crime - hung, drawn and quartered by everyone and anyone. The media, in reporting such accusations, ought to be crystal clear that they have obtained all the facts. Sadly, they often bypass this process, as I have from time to time discovered myself. When the truth does not get printed, damage is done. So, poor Hamiltons: while their tribulations were certainly more fun than watching the English cricket team lose, they left a nasty aftertaste.

This summer, I have also been lucky enough (to really name-drop) to play on three separate occasions in the same side as the all-time Pakistani hero, cricketer and political leader, Imran Khan. He is a tiger of a man and, from an early age, his portrait took pride of place on my wall, surrounded on every side by grinning celebrity magicians. Incongruous wall-partners, to say the least. Since childhood, I have been a cricket fanatic. I was also a diehard magic fan. And Paul Daniels was the king of them all. I never missed any of his live Christmas spectaculars. Once, I was asked to hold his balls on stage, much to the irritation of my magic buddies. I knew Paul was strict with his assistants, especially his future wife, Debbie, but only now, about 15 years later, do I understand how unbelievably smug he was - something that the new Heineken ad campaign has picked up on. He ridiculed audience members, insisting that they repeat after him "Yes Paul" and "You'll like it - not a lot". Would you be allowed to get away with that today? But then, if I knew as many tricks as him, my stage character, Merlin the Marvel, would have been equally insufferable.

I was a pedestrian magician. My father said I had the patter but the tricks needed work. Even tiny children could see through them. But bribed with wine gums, they clapped along enthusiastically. Our dog played a central role in my show, and he was a particular audience favourite. His glittering career came to an abrupt halt, though, when one of my clients (the late Sir Roy Walensky, one of the last premiers of Rhodesia) told me that he would not be paying me, because the dog had become a health hazard. A lot of soul-searching went on after this, and I even wrote to Paul Daniels for his advice. No reply was forthcoming.

Enough of magic, though, and back to Imran. I have apologised to all parties concerned for my distinctly underwhelming performances. We conclusively lost on all three occasions, despite having one of the world's finest all-rounders on our side. I suggested a sports psychologist; Imran suggested the Koran. What made the matches more informative was standing next to him in the slips, where he was able to recount to me stories of West Indian tours, Benazir Bhutto's fall from grace, and why repayment of IMF loans was crippling development in Pakistan. There are many people in Pakistan who believe that Imran will triumph in the political arena as he has done so many times in the cricket arena - and, best of all, in the 1990 World Cup. His conviction is as arresting as my bowling is uninspiring.

One of the perks of working for Quintessentially is being able to get tickets to sold out shows - whatever they may be. Quintessentially, much better than Merlin the Marvel, sorts out the unsortable. Indeed, I went to see U2 at Earl's Court last Sunday. I am a gig junkie, and have seen Madge and The Boss rock SW5 - but U2 really delivered. This tour seemed about getting deep, down and dirty with the audience. And I liked the way they put such emphasis on informing punters about the campaign to eradicate third world debt. They are a band with a conscience, and they have consistently used their popularity to bring unpopular issues to the fore. I think, too, that Bono is a really big man - he recently found out that his father was dying (he actually died last month) and the gigs seemed like a tribute to him.

The only downsides of a great gig are the overenthusiastic stage assistants (in direct contrast to Debbie Magee). Their over-eagerness in enforcing enjoyment extended to throwing bucketloads of water on the audience, whether they liked it or not. For a second, I knew how John Prescott must have felt. This did little to dampen my spirits, but for a moment, as I stood soaking and shouting, I thought of emptying my pint back on him: "You'll like it, not a lot."

My hangover from the Notting Hill Carnival bank holiday weekend is throbbing. Too much Red Stripe; too much jerk chicken; too much pretending that I can dance. The police, who were obviously hot on Monday, did not dampen the revellers' enthusiasm. In fact, many seemed to join in. I didn't see either of the potential Tory leaders there. Strange, they seem to have learnt from their predecessor's mistake.

Ben Elliot, man about town, is a co-founder of Quintessentially