Mr Eugenides has an amusing story about the misfortunes some time ago of Baron Foulkes of Cumnock (né plain George Foulkes before Tony ennobled him) after enjoying himself too well at a party thrown by the Scotch Whisky Association.
It rather reminded me of a tale I heard — from one of the other MPs who was there — about the late Andrew Faulds MP, memorable not only for his political but for his acting career before he went into politics. I knew he’d played Carver Doone in the TV adaptation of Lorna Doone, but I hadn’t realised he’d also appeared in Jason And The Argonauts as Phalerus. You learn something every day.
Anyway, Mr Faulds was one of a party of Labour MPs who accompanied their then leader, Neil Kinnock, on a trip to the Soviet Union back in (I think) 1991. Kinnock had to leave early, but the rest of the crew carried on being shown round major cities of the Soviet Union before ending their tour in Kiev. There they were treated to a farewell banquet before flying home, via Moscow (no direct flights abroad from anywhere but Moscow in those days), the following morning.
As social events with the Russians usually do, this banquet involved a number of toasts with vodka and, again, as so often happens, it turned into a drinking match between the locals and their guests. People dropped out one by one, eventually leaving only Andrew Faulds and some grizzled Second Under-Secretary for Tractor Production and Hero of Stalingrad determined not to give up until one of them was under the table, since national pride was at stake.
Faulds put on an heroic performance, apparently impressing even the Ukrainians with how much he could drink and remain standing, but eventually he proposed a final toast,
I greatly admire your vodka, but I far prefer your women!
before collapsing pole-axed to the floor and having to be carried back to the hotel by his colleagues.
He was still unconscious the following morning, so it was just as well they’d just pulled off his shoes the night before and left him to sleep in his clothes. The comatose Mr Faulds was apparently bundled into a limo and then into a Tupolev and strapped into his seat. Some time after they were airborne, however, he woke up and, presumably remembering his final toast, launched himself out of his seat and started trying to pursue the Aeroflot hosties.
He was eventually overpowered by his colleagues and the cabin crew, who were apparently well-used to dealing with such problems after their own politicians had been celebrating too well. They wrapped him in a blanket and strapped him onto a stretcher, on which he was eventually carried onto the flight back to London and from which he was judged by his colleagues as fit to be released only shortly before arrival at Heathrow.
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