Hague swaps duelling with Blair for duets with Ffion

The healing sound of duets with his wife, Ffion, have soothed the pain of losing the general election and the Tory leadership for William Hague, he said yesterday.

The former Conservative leader, now simply the MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire, has swapped judo sessions with Lord Coe for the piano keyboard, so he can accompany his wife's clarinet playing. In an interview published yesterday, Mr Hague said that looking forward to learning to play the instrument sustained him during the gruelling general election campaign.

He spoke of his "second life", having relinquishing the Conservative leadership after the party's second crushing election defeat. He told The Daily Telegraph: "I still feel lucky. I've lived a lifetime in 10 years. I can have a second life before I'm old; I'm not in a retirement home yet.

"I've lived my life in reverse. At 16 I was an elder statesman, lecturing the Tory party conference on pulling themselves together. Now, I feel like a teenager. I'm not going to try drugs or anything, but I'm free," he said.

Mr Hague, 41, said: "I've learnt to play Mozart, Bach, Chopin and some jazz on the piano. Ffion accompanies me on the clarinet."

Speaking about his feelings during the general election campaign, he said: "It wasn't that bad, but I was looking forward to learning to play the piano, knowing that no one would ring me at 2am, and to driving my car again.

"If I really needed a helicopter I could probably still get one, but I don't need to go anywhere in a hurry now."

The couple spent the summer in Montana in the American West. Mr Hague said: "I met a bear and went horse riding. Ffion took up oil painting. We enjoy going out for quiet suppers. It's not like royalty. People still stare, but it doesn't matter any more if I have food stuck to my teeth."

Mr Hague said his "workload has gone down but the income has gone up" since he resigned as Tory leader.

But he confirmed that he wanted to continue as an MP. "I'd like to be in Parliament for at least 30 years, and God willing, I would love to be a father. I don't think I'd become a house husband, that would be too much of a revolution for the Hague family, but I want to do the nappy changing. And we'll have the huge advantage of not bringing up our children in Downing Street."