The Third Leader: The entertainer

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The Independent Online

This may be an unpopular position to adopt, but some of us are going to miss him, you know. Of course we're aware of his disadvantages - he's got a bit of an obsession with abroad, for example, whether for holidays or invading - but you have only to clock his easy way with the bag containing his Fender Stratocaster to know this is a born entertainer.

It's in the blood - his grandfather played the halls, including in the act, funnily enough, mind-reading and escapology - and he's added to it by befriending the likes of Sir Cliff Richard and Robin Gibb, and marrying into the showbiz dynasty headed by Anthony Booth, distinguished star of the Confessions films series.

And he has brought his own unique gifts, whether showing the touch of a Sinatra over his retirement, the ease with a catchphrase - "pretty straight kind of guy", "45 minutes", "peerage?" - or the mastery of the telling, colourful and often intriguingly vague detail, whether it be working as a waiter in Paris, or his earlier bid for a free holiday when, as a teenager, he tried to stow away on a jet bound for the Bahamas.

Such things cling to him. Fine details around the Miami trip include the hairy landing; the 24 imported privacy protecting palm trees; jamming with the Gibbs; the suggestion that Mrs Gibb, as a bisexual druid, disapproves of tennis, and now, the quiet (presumably in deference to Mrs Gibb) mass in ritzy Palm Beach, complete with Aston Martin. Come on: didn't you also feel an unworthy tinge of regret at promises from the Brown camp of a "humbler", less showy premiership?

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