Television presenter Jeremy Vine was the guest speaker at the wildly successful AJ100 Awards night at the Savoy last week, and very funny he was too. Apart from the standard jokes at the expense of AJ's Working Details, which caused nervous laughter from the members of the AJ editorial team dotted about the room, he also told some topquality anecdotes from his time on the front line of British politics.
One of the best of the night concerned the time Vine was among the horde of hacks waiting outside 10 Downing Street in 1994 as the then prime minister John Major briefed Ulster unionist firebrand Ian Paisley on the forthcoming Downing Street Declaration. After 60 nervous minutes, the big Northern Irishman stormed out of the door.
'If this disgraceful document gets ratified, ' he bellowed at the scribbling reporters, 'the streets of Ulster will run red with the blood of innocent families.' As he finished, one Mirror reporter piped up with: 'So, it's a cautious welcome then, is it?'