Stop this balloon I want to get off
Friday 17 January 1997
Cabinet ministers had no trouble picking up votes: the Michaels Howard and Heseltine leading the chase, Portillo close behind, Dr Mawhinney trailing. Great names from television and the arts soon followed: Chris Evans, Ruby Wax, Anthea Turner, Paula Yates.
But it's not only bad company that is bad company in a balloon. Too much company is equally unwelcome, hence Nick Laitner's crew comprising Luciano Pavarotti, Cyril Smith, Vanessa Feltz and Nicholas Soames, and Christopher Gardner's: Pavarotti, Smith, Soames and Konishiki, a sumo wrestler. Sarah Pilkington offered horrors that mere humans could not contrive unaided or unmutated: Rod Hull and Emu, Elaine Paige, Mr Blobby and Edward Scissorhands.
In the main, though, it was mental stress you imagined. Geraldine Burke's "ultimate lethal crew" was Ian Paisley, Bernard Manning, Norman Tebbit and David Starkie. Hazel Laitner offered a surrealist's dream involving Le Petomane, Job, Virginia Bottomley and the same Ian Paisley. Carol- Anne Hodgson, with a care for the sensitive of soul, looked to Jo Brand, Gary Bushell, Bernard Manning and Diane Abbott.
Certain namesrecurred with striking frequency. A final tally gave us a top 10. In equal seventh place were Mark Thatcher, Michael Howard, Michael Heseltine and Roger Gale MP. Just above them came Chris Evans, Bernard Manning and Paul Gascoigne. In third place was Baroness Thatcher; in second, Max Clifford. But no one came close to the outright winner: the Rev Ian Paisley MP.
As well as offering a challenge, we promised a prize for the most disturbing crew. Some of the performers on BBC2's Late Review would give anybody pause for thought (except themselves). So too would John Francmanis' "any four contributors to Thought for the Day on Radio 4's Today programme". But in the end, we had to admit that a balloonful of Michael Jackson, Anthea Turner, Michael Winner and Teresa Gorman who would be as unfun a place to be as could be imagined. Champagne then to Emma Jardin from Rainham, Kent.
A final thought. Can you live with yourselves for allowing Jimmy Tarbuck, Paul Johnson and John Redwood - to name but three - to go free?n
Life & Style blogs
Men in tights: getting to the bottom of the latest trend
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Night Nurse could put drivers over new drug limit
Stephen Hawking: NHS is Britain's finest public service and must be preserved from commercial interests
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...