Downing Street parties are rubbish. I should know, I've been to one – Susan Morrison

Well, it was certainly a traditional way to celebrate Christmas. The ruling class carolling, carousing and wassailing, whilst the rule-obeying peasantry sat alone in their homes and watched the 1977 Morecamble and Wise Christmas Special, or worse, waited on a dreaded call from the hospital.

Friday, 10th December 2021, 4:55 am

However, in my capacity as Edinburgh Evening News Number 10 Party Correspondent, I can tell you that Downing Street parties are a bit rubbish. I’ve been to one.

It was before all this unpleasantness. Theresa May was in charge. Remember her? Tall, lanky woman who walked about in a permanent air of anxiety, like a lady in John Lewis baffled by the new store layout and who can’t find the haberdashery department.

It was the 70th anniversary of the Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival. So Treeza invited me and those wonderful folks who work like Trojans behind the scenes for a birthday bash.

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Seriously, Number 10 isn’t that much to crow about. High-end Edinburgh estate agents would be pretty familiar with it. It’s essentially a New Town house, complete with period features, sweeping staircases and original fireplaces. The property benefits from a mature garden and alterations have been carried out sympathetically, such as the nuclear shelter.

There is seriously scary security, which you find out should you be invited to Downing Street. You can’t just rock up with supermarket Chardonnay and six cans of Stella. There is a list. You get ticked off and checked in. They always know who’s inside that building.

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Essentially this was a party for the Fringe, and the Film Festival. The actual Festival was invited, too, but they all looked frighteningly posh so we all lurked in a corner and tried to collar the wine going past. By jingo we needed to be fast. The staff moved at just under light speed and the glasses were exceeding small.

A Christmas Party at Downing Street could have gone unnoticed, based on Susan Morrison's experience (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

I can confirm the presence of cheese, but actually getting some was tricky, particularly for the shorter guest. That would be me. I suspect they gave the trays of nibbly things to the tallest waiters, since all I saw were the undersides of silver platters zooming above my head, looking like fleets of flying saucers massing for an alien invasion.

As a shindig it was pretty tame. There was a distinct lack of dancing. Music was provided by a string trio in the corner mainlining Mozart’s greatest hits, when what you really need is a serious set of speakers and That’s What I Call Music: Number 34. One total party banger after another, there. Gets Auntie Liz up to break out her Macarena every time.

No-one started singing. This is a must at any Scottish gathering, even if the singer isn’t particularly sure of the exact words. It was all very restrained.

No wonder Mr Johnson didn’t notice the party going on under his roof.

Oh, but I assume these fine folk last year did themselves proud. The world outside that shiny black door might have been dark and lonely for those who cancelled Christmas, but you bet these servants of the people would have cracked out the best vino and laid on some superior stilton.

They might not have been singing, or dancing, but we know they were laughing, and at us. We know, because we’ve seen the proof.

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