Sue Arnold: Mr Portillo, please make everything all right

'He looked at me with that irresistible charm that only small, dark Mediterraneans know how to put across'
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The Independent Online

Salsa (Both the dance and the dip) is politically correct. We all saw those pictures of Michael Portillo in Morocco after the election letting off steam on the dance floor, and I know for a fact, being a Chelsea resident (Mr Portillo is my MP), that the heir apparent to the Tory leadership favours an Argentinian restaurant in our local farmers' market called El Gaucho that offers spicy salsa with its char-grilled steaks. He always chats to Luis, the proprietor, in Spanish, which impresses us all no end.

Salsa then is PC, but what about ganja – where does Mr Portillo stand on the wonderful weed? Yes, I did say wonderful because, as I have mentioned many, many times (here we go folks, she's banging on about legalising cannabis again), my own personal experience of marijuana is little short of miraculous. In a nutshell, when I smoke dope I can see, when I don't I can't. Being permanently stoned, however, is not the solution to vole vision, hence my prompt signature on any petition demanding proper government funding to research cannabis for medical purposes. Legalising it for recreational use seems the obvious follow-up, an opinion shared by Mr Portillo's campaign manager, Peter Lilley. His views on the subject sound eminently sensible.

Mr Lilley suggests that cannabis be sold in special off-licences and only, like alcohol and tobacco, to card-carrying adults. But when his old chum and possible future leader was asked on television where he stood on the cannabis debate, Mr Portillo was less than forthcoming. Both arguments were finely balanced, he opined, but he had yet to make up his mind.

Here's my problem. When, in my capacity as a worried constituent, I make an appointment to see my MP, which of my many burdens shall I lay on his head without messing up that magnificent hair? Yes, I did say magnificent, for whatever else you may think of Mr Portillo's politics, style, Terpsichorean skills and leadership potential, no one would dispute that he has lovely hair and masses of it.

Indeed if there is one single asset that puts him head and shoulders (so to speak) above his rivals, it's his barnet – smooth, dark, thick, glossy and, why deny it, sexy. Poor William Hague. He never stood a chance. He had the Ffion but he lacked the follicles.

Where was I? Oh yes – I'm sitting in Mr Portillo's surgery in Chelsea Manor Street waiting for my 10-minute appointment. Next please, says the secretary, showing Bob Geldof out. Sir Bob is anxious to know if the Oddbins in Oakley Street is to be one of Mr Lilley's special outlets licensed to dispense cannabis. "Ah, Mrs Arnold,'" says my MP. "What can I do for you?" And then, looking closer adds with that irresistible charm that only small, dark, handsome Mediterraneans know how to put across. "Didn't I see you in El Gaucho the other day? Brilliant, isn't it? I love the way they grill their steaks." "Actually, I always have brochette of lamb," I reply, disarmed. I pull myself together. "That's one of the reasons I've come to see you, Mr Portillo. Are you aware that some boring resident has complained about the noise in the farmers' market, so the council has slapped a restraining order on all the restaurants and now they all have to close at 8 o'clock, which is ridiculous because most of the noise in this area, as well you know, comes from burglar alarms, police sirens and lager louts fighting outside King's Road pubs?"

"I couldn't agree with you more," says Mr Portillo. "First thing Monday morning I shall take steps to see that the market restaurants remain open until 11pm. Is that all?" "Good gracious, no. There's legalising cannabis and installing more street lights and getting our bins emptied more often and making my landlord, Lord Chelsea, reinstate my security of tenure instead of the assured tenancy that isn't worth the paper it's printed on and insisting that Chelsea library has a better selection of audio books and..." "Don't worry, Mrs Arnold, I'll see to it all," said Mr Portillo soothingly. I wish.

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