What a party! New Year's Eve with Tony, Robin and the Miami Beach set

So how exactly will Britain's first family celebrate the holiday while in Florida? David Usborne speculates
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Indy Politics

The four black SUVs of the Blair caravan rolled up outside Big Pink, a diner on Collins Avenue in South Beach that advertises "real food for real people", at lunchtime on Thursday. Cherie, who had wanted to stay at the house by the pool for the day, was grumpy - it was Nicky and Kathryn who had insisted on going out. Leo, being only six, hadn't had a say in the matter.

Tony ordered a Caesar salad and a beer, wearing that forced I-love-Gordon smile of his. Privately, he was still fuming about that fool of a British Airways captain who had overshot the runway on Tuesday (damn commercial flying), attracting the attention of the press back home to their whereabouts. A blasted nuisance, especially since he might now actually to have to pay Robin Gibb for using that wedding cake of a house of his. Would tipping the staff do?

The last thing Tony needed now was family squabbling. Cherie he could handle. Some of those frumpy American lawyer friends she had collected on her recent speaking tour here were coming to town tomorrow and that should keep her happy. (Come to think of it, since she's so rich these days, why doesn't she pay Robin for the house?) And he has a sexy surprise for her for New Year's weekend.

And Friday, of course, was the big day for him. He still wasn't exactly clear where in Coconut Grove he was going to be meeting the former president, but then the Americans were apparently better than the British at keeping the movements of their political celebrities under wraps. The meeting had been moved forward to breakfast. Something to do with Gerald Ford dying and his funeral.

It was the kids that worried him. Was it really such a good idea, sending Nicky off down the road to the Martin mansion for the day? The lad seemed a bit awestruck by the has-been rock star, an emotion that for the life of him he didn't understand. Funny how one's children can be so different from oneself. But Ricky had dropped by briefly on Wednesday and had seemed nice enough. But the tattoos! Oh well.

By cocktail time on Friday, SS Blair was more or less upright. Cherie had her smug look. She's met someone looking to work for the Government willing to sell her an apartment here for $10,000. Amazing! And Nicky was beaming. (Not tipsy, surely.) He and Ricky had been on a banana boat, whatever that was. And Tony... well, he was keeping his mouth shut even in present company. Bill is so brilliant. Lord knows how he ever managed to get so cosy with idiot George. No comparison.

Saturday morning found Tony dreaming about sharing a mud bath with Uma. Cherie's treat was a visit to The Standard, the new place just opened by André Balazs, that hotel fellow, in South Beach. Uma is his girlfriend. But apparently it's more fancy spa than hotel. It did worry him slightly that the mud baths are in the open air. The paparazzi are everywhere.

In the event, the spa was a bit of disaster. Uma didn't show and Tony - should have worn fresh Y-fronts - cursed Robin for tagging along with the wife, Dwina. He should have known that as an ex-druid she'd spend the whole time flouncing around in the nude. Still, the visit afterwards to the Versace mansion was a hit. The kids came too. Nowadays, it belongs to a telecoms billionaire, Peter Loftin, who turned it into a fancy club. But he hasn't changed the place much. That Versace fellow really had taste. Oh Lord! Someone's just faxed over the Saturday papers from London. They are claiming that the taxpayers face a £20,000 bill for all the bodyguards, flights for staff and so on. Somebody had written "I trust you'll be footing this" in a familiar Scottish scrawl on the fax.

It's Sunday morning now and nobody but Tony seems excited by the lunch party Rob has organised. Elton is coming and Cliff is flying in from Barbados. They're also expecting Julio Iglesias, a neighbour. Matt Damon is around the corner, but he's away making a film.

And there is New Year's Eve itself. Dwina has gone druid again, insisting everyone spend it on their private dock plopping little paper boats into Biscayne Bay. Crackers. At midnight everyone is meant to put candles in them and watch them float away in the moonlight. She says it's a Brazilian thing and since this is Miami... Brazilians everywhere, half-naked and on Rollerblades on Ocean Drive. Anyway, the family has other ideas. Nicky and Cherie want to go dancing. That's why Tony has bribed one of the Secret Service men with signed picture of himself to get Kathryn a fake ID card to come too. Honestly, these Americans and their drinking laws!

So, the whole gang will be going tonight to Club Deep on Washington Avenue. It's famous because the dance floor is all water. True. Tony is thinking that since he can walk on water, why not dance? Ha ha, he's just jesting with himself. He is sorry that Euan isn't with them. Euan's so funny when he gets really, really plastered. But the best thing for Tony is that it costs $1,000 a head to get in tonight, and that nice Ricky is giving everyone the tickets for free! Got to love those music people. What was it he was saying the other day about a seat in the House of Lords?

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