Piggate reminds me of the stupid things I did when I was young – should they be held against me?

A drunken photo exists of me in a semi-naked yoga position, but I doubt the public would think it should affect my career

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Cameron’s alleged misbehaviour with a dead pig has evoked surprising empathy in me – as I’m sure it would in most people casting their minds back to their own misspent youth. Unfortunately for me, one particularly grotesque example of ill-judged behaviour has too been caught on camera.

I’m usually quite a good drunk. No matter how plastered I get, I tend to be able to maintain a modicum of self-awareness that prevents me from indulging in drunken exhibitionism. Except for this one time.

It was the summer of 2008 and a friend had the keys to his family’s tumbledown farmhouse deep in a forest in the south of France. The four-day stay was, inevitably, alcohol-fuelled. On the last day, a little worn around the edges, our party of five piled into a clapped-out old Citroen and headed for the supermarket. We picked up langoustines, oysters and pate - and red wine, white wine, gin, rum, vodka, Cremant and a couple of crates of those stubby little green-bottled beers. It being the last day, we were going to make a go of it.

Preparing lunch, we popped open the fizzy. By the time the food was on the table, it was all gone – as was most of the white wine. Fear not though, we reasoned, we are a long way from civilisation but we have enough booze to keep an elephant drunk for a week. No way could we get through it all.

But we did. I have hazy memories of taking it in turns to recite passages from Rupert Everett’s autobiography. With hindsight, I blame what came to pass on the heady mix of holiday abandon, cabin fever - and “alcool pour fruits”.

Once we had finished every last drop of supermarket booze, we rooted around in the back of a cupboard and found two dusty litre-bottles of the clear spirit. Somewhat blotto, we didn’t worry too much about what precisely it was, the presence of the word “alcool” and a promising “40 per cent” was more than enough reassurance for us. From what I’ve surmised online since, “alcool pour fruits” is to be used for pickling fruits – not for consumption by humans. Either way, it sent us completely and utterly loopy.

 

 

One thing led to another. Yoga demonstrations were given and clothes were removed, not necessarily in that order. And unfortunately for me, a party trick of mine is the demonstration of a particularly demanding position. So it is that there exists a photograph of me, waiting to blight any potential political career, naked from the waist down with not one, but two, legs behind my head, balls literally out.

Is it right that public figures – and politicians in particular – should live in fear of recrimination from the foolish behaviour of their pasts? No, and thankfully, in an age of social media where sports stars come out to fans on YouTube and popstars discuss their drug problems on Twitter, the public have more space to form their own opinions of those in the public eye, free from the moralising of the press.

And yet, and yet. A good story is a good story – and a story about the PM allegedly committing a certain act with a dead pig, well, it would be cruel to keep that from the voting public. There is a particularly delicious irony in that this is claimed to have happened within the cloistered confines of a yah-boo Oxford society, out of sight from the proletariat.

So, I say, let it all hang out. The British public can make up their own minds – be it an alleged case of porcine initiation or semi-naked yoga.

Comments