It was too much to hope for. Days after telling me for last week’s Peterborough column that he was giving up booze for “Dry January”, Nigel Farage has fallen off the wagon. The ex-Ukip leader’s misstep occurred when he went to Belgrade to meet the family of Novak Djokovic amid the Australian government’s attempts to deport the 20-time Grand Slam winner over his vaccine status.
Djokovic’s family are “extraordinary vineyard owners”, he told me, and when Djokovic’s uncle Goran offered a glass of red wine at the Novak restaurant he felt he couldn’t refuse.
“He would have been very offended if I did not touch the family wine,” Farage said, adding: “In my defence they are bigger than me.”
Farage claims he is now back on the wagon for the rest of January. I’ll believe it when I see it.
What are they hiding in there?
Liz Truss has set aside £100,000 to allow world leaders and ambassadors to freshen up in Heathrow airport’s VIP lounge after they touch down in their private jets. That covers 50 “flight movements” only – effectively 25 return trips, or £4,000 for every jet.
Labour MP Neil Coyle is not happy about the splurging of taxpayers’ money on the airport’s “extravagantly priced VIP facilities” for dignitaries who “don’t want to mix with Joe Public”.
It sounds like the Foreign Office’s answer to levelling up.
Rory’s new project
Fresh from fretting about beavers gnawing through a prized oak at his home in Scotland (not Cumbria, as I said last week), Rory Stewart is emigrating to Jordan, with his young family.
The former Conservative leadership challenger is taking on the prospect of restoring the ancient city of Gadara, just south-east of the Sea of Galilee. Stewart, 49, will work with local refugees from Syria on the ruins of the city in a project being run with the Prince of Wales’s charity Turquoise Mountain.
He is planning to be away for 18 months. But with the Tories heading into another leadership crisis, how long will it be before he hankers to return to Westminster?
He’s not too posh to pull pints
Seventeen-year-old Albert “Albie” Eliot became the 11th Earl of St Germans when his grandfather Peregrine died a few years ago. But he won’t get the keys to Port Eliot, the family estate, until he is 25. So I was encouraged to hear that young Albie is putting the time to good use by signing up to work behind the bar at the Eliot Arms in his ancestral village of St Germans in Cornwall. What better way to get to know the locals?
One hungry horseman
Top polo player Charlie Hanbury has to keep his strength up. So I was surprised to learn about the restrictive diet his wife Yohanna feeds him on.
The pair, left, dubbed the best dressed couple at Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank in 2018, and their children do not eat food which Yohanna – a Bavarian princess – believes might contain “toxins”. Foods missing from the Hanbury larder include: gluten, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine, cheese, ice cream, sweetened yoghurts, leafy greens, soy products, almonds, and even lentils and chickpeas.
Perhaps it would be easier for her to provide a list of what you can eat?
An ugly business
Hollywood actor Andrew Garfield, above, has not always had it his own way. The Spider-Man star has been speaking of his desperation to play Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia: “I thought, ‘This could be it, this could be it.’ And that handsome, brilliant actor Ben Barnes ended up getting the role.”
Garfield would not let it go and kept asking his agent why he had been passed up for the role. “It’s because they don’t think you’re handsome enough, Andrew,” his agent told him. Poor mite.
Can Boris beat Dave?
Boris Johnson’s hopes of staying on as Prime Minister longer than his Old Etonian rival David Cameron are at risk after Partygate. One friend tells me: “Boris wants to beat Dave.”
Yet Johnson will need to be PM in September 2025 if he is to beat Cameron’s six years in office. At this rate, Johnson’s time as PM might be more short lived than Theresa May if he is dumped by his own MPs before August this year.
Peterborough, published every Friday at 7pm, is edited by Christopher Hope, the Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, author of the daily Chopper’s Politics newsletter and host of the weekly Chopper’s Politics podcast. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org