I knew it was a momentous event – the Groucho Club loos were deserted. A room packed with the great and the not so good of Soho media sat staring at the television watching the swearing-in of the most powerful person in the world. Champagne corks were popping – it was as if the credit crunch had been put on hold for a brief interlude while we all made sure that George Bush really was going to relinquish the heady reins of power. After a while, it became something of a panto atmosphere. The evil spectre of Dick Cheney arriving, rather fittingly, in a wheelchair raised a chorus of boos. Someone asked how he was going to get down the stairs to his seat. I suggested that he should simply be given a push and see what happened.
Hillary took her place trying to look thrilled about the whole thing. Joe Biden's wife had just let slip on Oprah (where else?) that he'd been given his choice of Secretary of State or Vice-President. Hillary managed to avoid making eye contact, but there's trouble afoot in them thar hills. Halfway down the stairs was a splendidly dressed man sporting a very racy red trilby. Every time a VIP descended, he and the red hat would lean out and he would grab and pump their hand, energetically. He managed to bag every ex-president, and I was eager to see if he could get Barack Obama himself. George Bush Snr hobbled about at the top. An impatient-looking Barbara stormed ahead. I think she's had her fill of looking after Bush men. Dan Quayle slipped in – the only man ever to make George Bush seem eloquent – a vice-president who couldn't even spell potato. Halcyon days...
Then the First Children, accompanied by what looked like a really stern nanny with 1950s-style glasses. Behind them was the First Mother-in-Law who is moving into the White House as well. How many jokes are going to be made about that in the coming years? I hope she sits in a rocking chair on the porch, knitting and making loud, rude comments about everyone in the Rose Garden. Finally the panto villain arrived. George W Bush, already looking slightly shrivelled as the power was being visibly drained from his body. I prayed that the crowd would start booing as for Ceausescu on his balcony. Sadly, they showed more grace than we did at the Groucho Club. We booed energetically. It felt good. The red hat man grabbed W's hand but the President-for–the-next-five-minutes didn't seem to notice.
Finally, slightly late (how cool is that?), Obama emerged to greet his country. The place went ballistic, the Groucho went ballistic, the red hat man went ballistic. He got so excited that the secret service started to look worried. Obama didn't bat an eyelid – he really is too cool for school. He grabbed the red hat man by the hand as though he was his oldest friend. Maybe he was. The red hat man was happy. I was happy. It's ludicrous, really, putting your hopes into a politician, but he's got that rock star thing and you just can't help getting excited by him.
Speaking of rock stars, I was pleased to see that they'd managed to keep Bono off the podium. I had this terrible feeling that he'd be gurning away in the background, but he'd clearly been denied the holy laminate. About time he couldn't get backstage for once – see how the other half live. Obama stumbled slightly on the oath – it was reassuring – he's human! George W Bush disappeared to take his helicopter ride into the sunset. I secretly hoped for the crowd on the Mall to raise their missile launchers, but none appeared. Back at the Groucho, the rush for the loos was under way – a new morning had broken.Reuse content