‘Love him or hate him, at least rees-Mogg is honest’
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5
GQ’s gloriously entertaining Men of the Year awards celebrated its 20th birthday tonight. I arrived at Tate Modern to find a fuming Gordon Ramsay.
‘I can’t believe you told everyone that f***ing Tiger Woods story!’ he bellowed, referring to last week’s diary item about him lying to Tiger about being a good golfer.
‘Really?’ I said. ‘You can’t believe I told a funny story that made you look terrible?’
He burst out laughing. ‘You’re right! Of course you were going to tell everyone that f***ing story. You’re Piers f***ing Morgan!’
Ramsay, unlike many celebrities, always laughs at himself as cheerfully as he laughs at everyone else. It’s why I like him.
As we spoke, England football manager Gareth Southgate came up to say hello.
‘How’s the world’s most difficult, thankless job going?’ I asked. ‘It’s… interesting!’ ‘What’s been the biggest surprise?’ ‘When you’re an England player, you return to your club after a game and the focus moves to that. But when you’re the England manager, the media attention, criticism and pressure never stops. I’m hugely enjoying it though.’
‘You realise that unless you win a trophy, you’ll be mocked, abused, deemed a failure and unceremoniously sacked.’
Southgate chuckled. ‘I do, yes… thanks for reminding me, though.’
I spied comedy genius Ash Atalla, who produced The Office. ‘How are you, Piers?’ he asked. ‘Not great,’ I replied, ‘I’ve got three broken ribs.’
Ash, who’s been in a wheelchair since contracting polio as a kid, was unimpressed. ‘I can’t bloody walk and you’re moaning about sore ribs? Get a grip of yourself, you pathetic excuse for a man.’
He had a point. I limped down to dinner and saw Jeremy Clarkson, who recently survived a serious bout of pneumonia. ‘You’re ALIVE!’ I exclaimed. ‘Yes, Morgan,’ he responded. ‘Don’t look so disappointed.’
‘To be honest, I have felt slightly torn about this threat to your life. How’s your smoking ban going?’
‘Today was the first day when I really craved a fag,’ said the man who recently admitted to devouring 630,000 cigarettes.
Then he pulled out five packets of nicotine chewing gum from his jacket pocket. ‘I’ve had to come with emergency stocks of these.’
My table housed heavyweight boxer David Haye, East-Enders star Larry Lamb and Arsenal’s Spanish right back, Hector Bellerin. The latter eyed me with trepidation. ‘Piers, I know you’re not happy about Arsenal,’ he stammered.
‘No, Hector, I am most definitely NOT happy about Arsenal.’ ‘Things will improve,’ he promised. ‘They couldn’t get much worse,’ I growled. ‘I’m very happy to come and address the players myself if necessary.’
He laughed nervously. ‘No, no, I’ll pass it on.’
Later, fellow Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn came over to speak to him. When I tried to interrupt, the Labour leader – whose wife is Mexican – promptly switched to fluent Spanish to shut me out of the conversation. ‘What did you tell him?’ I asked. Corbyn smirked. ‘I told him to please send Arsène Wenger my very best and assure him he continues to have my full support, even if he’s lost yours, Piers. In fact, particularly because he’s lost yours…’
‘He’s lost mine because we keep losing,’ I retorted. ‘You and Wenger are the only losers in football and politics to keep their job... no wonder you love him.’
Corbyn got a huge cheer when he presented an award. His extraordinary popularity shows no sign of abating.
The best speech came from Rob Brydon, who branded ‘Saint’ Steve Coogan ‘a sanctimonious pr***’ – a perfect assessment of the whining little press-loathing weasel.
Good Morning Britain interviewed various stars on the red carpet and asked them if I was ‘quite the amazing man he thinks he is’.
Dermot O’Leary was emphatic: ‘No, not at all, too opinionated, needs to be nicer to people, wear nicer suits, how long have you got?’
Brydon was ambiguous: ‘Piers is a one off, I think we have to aim lower.’
Singer Charli XCX was weird: ‘I mean yeah, I wouldn’t date him.’ (I never asked you to date me, luv, whoever you are…)
As so often, Liam Gallagher had the last word: ‘Piers is an Arsenal fan, ain’t he – so he’s not that f***ing good.’
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Jacob Rees-Mogg, the favourite to replace Theresa May as Tory leader, sparked a massive furore on GMB today by telling Susanna and me that he didn’t believe in abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, nor gay marriage.
I vehemently disagree with him but I do support his right to have an opinion, which he proffered calmly and respectfully, and I admire his balls in stating it unequivocally.
Politicians who give straight answers to straight questions, even if their answers are controversial, are infinitely preferable to the vast majority who use obfuscation and spin.
Like him or loathe him, Rees-Mogg was at least honest and voters can now judge him accordingly.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 Enjoyed a delightful six-hour lunch at Fortnum & Mason to celebrate the new grouse season. Sitting opposite me was Dermot O’Leary. ‘Who are you?’ asked a guest next to him. ‘I’m Dermot O’Leary.’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘I host The X Factor.’ ‘What’s The X Factor?’ I laughed so hard my spleen nearly erupted. ‘I’d get a bit more opinionated if I were you, mate,’ I suggested. ‘Then people might have heard of you.’
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 Arsenal beat Bournemouth 3-0, and Hector Bellerin had a stormer. My pep talk clearly worked.