Susan Morrison: A cocktail stick adds Commons touch to a wee soirée

Tommy Sheppard arranged the anniversary shindig in the Speaker's House. Picture: Neil Hanna
Tommy Sheppard arranged the anniversary shindig in the Speaker's House. Picture: Neil Hanna
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My mum held a Tupperware party in the Swinging 60s, which was pretty rock and roll for us.

The catering standards for groovy happenings at the time demanded that we cut sandwiches into triangles, and spend hours carefully threading cheese cubes and bits of pineapple on to cocktail sticks, prior to inserting them into half a grapefruit.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan offer us Jacobite-lite in Outlander

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan offer us Jacobite-lite in Outlander

Cocktail sticks, that was the key. Modern standards have changed. Like everything else, the hipsters have seized control and made party food-on-a-stick go artisan, as I discovered in that there London. You see, it’s the 70th anniversary of the Fringe, and so we thought we’d have a party to startle the South Bank luvvies who think they are the only ones with mime troupes and challenging modern art installations. Biggest arts festival in the world, mate, and it’s Not Here.

Mr Tommy Sheppard, late of this parish and now making parliamentary noises in the House of Commons, arranged for us to have the shindig in the Speaker’s House. It’s a sort of tied cottage above the shop, with a nice view of the river and seriously stern interior design. Never seen quite so many gloomy portraits of the sort of chaps who looked like they used to chain up the swings in the play parks.

There was a faintly anxious moment when we rocked up to the front door and it was shut.

We all stood outside like confused Avon ladies, until the door was opened by a minion who mysteriously vanished. Given that we were standing in the full Gothic splendour of the Palace of Westminster, the resemblance to Hogwarts was truly startling. The Speaker wasn’t in. Basically, I suspect Tommy had kept his eye out for when he nipped off on hols, and piled us in under cover of an empty.

The fizz was plentiful and the canapés whizzed about by whippet-smart lassies.

Mindful of the fact that these comestibles had probably come from some obscure budget in the public purse, I determined that no canapé should go uneaten and flung myself full force at the assorted things on crackers, things on bruschetta, and things strung together on skewers of wood hefty enough to cause damage to any passing vampire.

Seriously, what happened to cocktail sticks?

Bojo gone in a flash of white

That Boris Johnson can fair shift. There was the briefest flash of a floppy white fringe and I reached for my skewer, ready to do a bit of accidental damage to the bouffant buffoon. Nothing serious, you understand. Just a wee prick, as it were.

As far as I could see, these wood-and-food arrangements are de riguer in posh nosh circles, so you’re not telling me the members of the smart set haven’t encountered the sharp point of an estate-reared beef and red onion kebab at soirees. But it was not to be. Glimpsed then gone, with my dreams of a little rebellion with him. Well, you can take the girl out of Glasgow . . .

I can’t find Dubai on the Central Line

The evening wound down and we set off into the night. We passed Downing Street, but I figured it was probably a bit late to hit Treeza up for coffee and a custard cream.

It was well past my bedtime, but I felt quite safe. For one thing, I had a skewer. I thought it made a nice souvenir.

I headed for home, without much idea of where “home” actually was. Full of the dangerous confidence of the slightly tipsy Scot, I decided to shun the possibility of a taxi and go for the Underground. How hard can it be? I spent a good few minutes frowning at what I thought was the map, before I realised it was an advert for an airline, with little lines zooming out from London on all their routes throughout the world. This explained why I couldn’t see Euston, but could find my way to Dubai, which I was fairly sure was not in Zone Two.

The correct map, of course, was the thing I thought was a wiring diagram. Trafalagar Square to Euston, sorted and navigated no bother. Next time, though, I’ll use a train. Its pretty dark down there.

The Jacobites are having a moment, and not just on TV

Of course, the last time a bunch of rebellious Scots threatened the peace of Westminister, they only got as far as Derby before turning and heading for home. Derby has that effect on people.

The Jacobites are hot property right now. Outlander, a sort of Game Of Thrones meets Mills And Boon, has made the Bonnie Prince and the original Tartan Army flavour of the month.

If you’d like to get up close and personal with the real boys in the band, then there is a truly astonishing exhibition up at the National Museum of Scotland.

Absorbing, fascinating and wonderfully put together, you’ll need a good few hours just to take in the entire tale of the man who would be king.