CALL ME DAVE, TOO!
DOMINIC MIDGLEY’S uncanny resemblance to the ex-PM has seen him frequently stopped in the street — and even asked by a celebrity photographer to recreate the infamous ‘Pig-gate’ scandal
The moment I heard the news that David Cameron was to return to frontline politics as Foreign Secretary, I had a sinking feeling. In the seven years since he left No 10, I felt I’d got my life back. I could walk down the street without fellow commuters doing a double-take, having my hand pumped by perfect strangers or being asked by passers-by: ‘You’re not David Cameron, are you?’
During our former Prime Minister’s six years in power, such incidents were a regular event thanks to our similar facial features, much the same hair colour, a side-parted coiffure known by the crimping cognoscenti as the ‘classic businessman’ and an almost identical workplace uniform.
The first indication that this might become an issue came in October 2008 during the Conservative Party conference. I found myself at a drinks do in my role as a journalist, chatting to Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London.
A couple of minutes later Cameron, then leader of the Opposition, walked in and made a beeline for us. Boris introduced me and, after some brief pleasantries, I was marginalised by hangers-on.
Shortly afterwards, I was introduced to Michael White, The Guardian’s distinguished political commentator at the time. We shook hands and, refusing to loosen his grip, Michael said with an expression of wonderment: ‘A few moments ago I saw Boris Johnson talking to David Cameron... and then David Cameron walked in!’
The doppelganger phenomenon became more marked after Cameron became PM in 2010. Shortly afterwards, I met a contact at Westminster watering hole the St Stephen’s Tavern, a popular hangout for MPs, lobby correspondents, special advisers and civil servants.
When the evening came to an end, I had to make my way through a group of middle-aged men at the bar to settle up.
AFTer prodding my details into the card payment machine, I heard a voice behind me say: ‘Now we know David Cameron’s PIN number.’ An equally disturbing episode occurred at the 50th birthday party of my former boss Fergus Kelly, himself an ex-political reporter based in the house of Commons. It soon became clear a number of his friends were gobsmacked by his social pulling power. ‘Blimey, Ferg, we weren’t expecting the Prime Minister,’ said one.
Fergus had to inform them regretfully that the individual concerned was not the most powerful politician in the land but one of his lowly feature writers.
Some interchanges were more spooky than others. Nursing a coffee outside a cafe in Covent Garden one day, I noticed a builder glancing over to me as he unloaded materials from his van.
On his third trip back and forth, he caught my eye and said in a distinctly sinister manner: ‘I know who you are,’ before disappearing inside never to be seen again.
But it was in November 2015 that I received the lookalike’s ultimate accolade: the imprimatur of Alison Jackson. For the uninitiated, Alison is the awardwinning artist who uses deadringers of famous people to produce amusing or thoughtprovoking photographs.
She first made her name in 1999, with a shot apparently showing Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dandling a mixed-race baby. Since then Alison has cornered the market in the genre.
She mocked George W Bush’s reputed dimness with a picture of a double of the former American president tussling with a rubik’s Cube, puzzlement etched on his brow. Other shots have included JFK embracing Marilyn Monroe and former couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West changing their baby’s nappy.
‘has anyone ever told you you look like David Cameron?’ she asked when we bumped into each other at a book launch.
Alison explained that she had a project in mind featuring a lookalike of the Prime Minister. She reckoned that, with a bit of judicious crimping, my hairstyle could be made to match up and some fake tan would complete the transformation. Would I be interested? I certainly was. After all, the story of the shoot would make a great feature article. ‘So, what scenario do you have in mind?’ I asked. ‘Pig-gate,’ she replied.
To recap, this was the name given to the scandalous but entirely uncorroborated anecdote in a scurrilous biography of the then-PM entitled Call Me Dave.
Cameron was alleged to have put a ‘private part of his anatomy’ into the mouth of a dead pig served up at a dinner as part of an initiation ceremony at a meeting of the Piers Gaveston Society, a decadent dining club of which he was a member while at Oxford University.
It should be said that Cameron vigorously denied the allegation.
As a younger man, I had often sacrificed my dignity on the altar of journalistic ambition — most memorably when I was roped into attending Christmas parties while drenched in a pheromone-containing aftershave to assess whether it was catnip to women, as was claimed. (It wasn’t.)
But the idea of recreating Piggate was a step too far. Negotiations fell at the first hurdle.
eight months after that incident, Cameron resigned having lost the 2016 eU referendum and I returned to a life of anonymity.
Now, however, I face the prospect of a recurrence of my former ordeal. Time and chance have taken their toll and both Cameron and I have added some timber in the intervening years.
WOMeN often say, when it comes to weight loss, you have to choose between your bottom and your face: the price of a pert behind is a haggard visage.
Truth be told, it’s not a dilemma that appears to be troubling the new Foreign Secretary. Cameron’s not as corpulent as he was a couple of years ago but it’s safe to say he won’t be troubling the judges at the rear Of The Year competition any time soon.
On the plus side, his face has the relatively unlined look of a man who rarely says no to pudding. In that respect, I fear we have something in common.
And so, despite the passage of the years, I could probably still make a decent second income hawking myself out as a David Cameron-lookalike on the provincial supermarket opening circuit.
Yesterday, it only remained for me to pose for pictures to illustrate that there is more than a passing resemblance between me and Cameron.
hearteningly, photographer Neale haynes and make-up artist Oonagh Connor, both veterans of shoots with politicians such as Boris Johnson and ed Balls, agreed that I fitted the bill.
But I’d already had an intimation of what lies in store. After Cameron’s appointment on Monday, I boarded the Tube home clad in a navy blue suit, pale blue shirt and blue tie — coincidentally an identical get-up to what Cameron had worn while at Downing Street that very morning.
As I did so, was that the all-too familiar flicker of recognition followed by a half smile when I caught the eye of a fellow passenger? I fear it was.
The Cameroonian curse has already come back to haunt me.