I was in London one day last week to visit the Douanier Rousseau exhibition (which much to my relief turned out to have finished weeks earlier, so I didn't have to waste time going round it), when who should I bump into in the street but my old friend Adrian Wardour-Street. Adrian is the unofficial king of PR in London, and has kept more celebrities out of the headlines than you could imagine; in his own words, "I score on the rebound from Max Clifford."
This day he seemed preoccupied. He had stopped on a street corner in Soho, and was glancing anxiously at his watch.
"If it's the time you're after, Adrian," I said, "it's nearly midday."
"Time?" he said. "I haven't got time for the time. I'm trying to get the Test score in India."
"Gosh," I said, like the provincial bumpkin he likes me to behave as. "I didn't know you could get cricket scores on a watch. What will they think of next?"
"They've already thought of it," he said. "This isn't a watch. It's a mini-TV. I'm actually watching the match."
"So, who's winning?"
"I'm not sure. Trouble is, cricket is the only team game in the world where both sides wear the same strip, so you can't tell them apart. And it's almost impossible to read the score."
He whipped out a magnifying glass and inspected the screen, then gave up with a groan.
"Have you time for a quick one?" he said, and dragged me into a tiny bar called A Quick One, where he ordered us two orange juices, freshly squeezed several days before.
"So, what's new this week?" I said. "Have you been called in to smooth over the peerages-for-loans scandal?"
"Certainly not," he said. "I don't work for the Labour Party. I work for the Government."
"What's the difference?"
"The Government does the job for which it was elected. Labour does the job of getting elected."
"That's a bit too clever for me."
"That's the idea."
"So what are you and the Government up to?"
"We are working on a new health scare. We are going to insist that health warnings be put on the titles of films and books."
"I'm not with you ..."
"There's a new film out called Romance and Cigarettes. That's flouting the regulations about tobacco sales! We are going to insist that the film has a health warning about smoking on it. It's going to create a furore. 'Political correctness gone mad'. I see it now ..."
"What about the health dangers of romance?" I said.
"I'm not with you," said Adrian.
"Sexually transmitted diseases are on the up again," I said. "At the very least you should have films renamed, like Safe Sex, Lies and Videotape."
"Good point," said Adrian. "I'll make a note of that."
He spoke into his lapel.
"I wonder if The Lord of the Rings got his title from a loan to the Labour Party," I said.
"And we are spreading a few health scares," he said, ignoring me. "The great thing about health scares is that they can be reversed. One day aspirin is good. The next day it is a killer. One day, olive oil and red wine ..."
"Yes, yes," I said. "I get your drift. So what are you going to discredit this time?"
Adrian looked round to make sure nobody was listening. "Osteopaths," he said. "And chiropractors."
"Blimey," I said.
"We did a dry run the other day," he said. "With homeopathy. Went down very well. And at the end of the week we're going to pull the plug on oily fish."
"Oily fish?" I said. "But everyone says they are so good for you! Omega 3 and all that!"
"We built it up," said Adrian. "We can knock it down."
"To take the heat off the Labour loans scandal, of course," said Adrian. "There's more than one way to capture the headlines. It's better to get people perplexed about the pills they pop than the peers they propagate."
"I bet you couldn't say that again at speed," I said.
And he couldn't.Reuse content