Forty winks in the Mock Gothic Fun Palace

Bob Geldof didn’t like Mondays, but one of David Cameron’s posh boys has an aversion to Sundays. The surname of that one-time Charterhouse head boy, Jeremy Hunt, is deliberately mispronounced, I hear, in his Surrey backyard. The culture vulture’s brief includes sport, but he’s been shown a red card after a ruck with the rugby boys. Hunt, it transpires, is a six-days-a-week politician who doesn’t do Sundays. Invited to join hundreds of kids and their voter parents at the Haslemere club in his constituency, his office declined on the grounds that it was the boss’s regular day off. I admire the bravery of an MP so confident of a 5,711 majority. The local mayor is more popular with rugby players – and happy to pop down on a Sunday.

The paparazzi massed on the opposite bank of the Thames are changing life in the Mock Gothic Fun Palace. The library has long served as a haven for MPs in need of mid-afternoon cogitation, the Walsall duo of David Winnick and Bruce George among those who like to close their eyes for a time to reflect on big issues. But since the Speaker, Metal Mickey, was snapped in his apartment, staff have taken to lowering the blinds to safeguard the privacy of the occupants of the deep leather armchairs. The downside is that a few oversleep in the unaccustomed gloom.

The expenses of Julia Goldsworthy, the Peter Mandelson lookie-likey on the Lib Dem front bench, include a hitherto unremarked case of political cross-buying. Besides the now notorious Heal’s £1,200 leather rocking chair is a £490 (plus £8 cab fare) claim for wallpaper from Osborne & Little. The upmarket purveyor of coverings to the gentry is, of course, the family firm of the baronet’s son “Sir” George Osborne, who boasts that a cut from every roll sold finds its way into his trust fund. Michael Gove buying elephant lamps from the Oka company of Druggie Dave’s mother-in-law, Lady Annabel Astor, was creepy. Goldsworthy donating cash to the enemy is judged as political madness by the Yellow Peril.

Regular drinkers on the terrace have adopted two golden rules to avoid the long lenses of the paps. The first is never to carry two bottles, particularly of champagne, or a tray groaning with drinks. The second is to sit with your back to the river, face obscured. Guests invited to enjoy the fine view of the river shouldn’t thank a host for being courteous, because the MP is using them as chaff to confuse the snappers.

Hunt isn’t alone in his rugger trouble. The real sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, decided the 15-a-side oval ball game wasn’t for him when he turned out at Twickenham for a charity game. Self-preservation kicked in and he flung the ball away whenever it was passed to him. The roads minister Jim Fitzpatrick made the mistake of catching it from Sutcliffe. Fitz compared getting tackled by a hefty chap to being flattened by a human truck, and limped off to the changing room. My snout in the stands reckons neither will be called up by the Springboks in South Africa.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.