Two thousand spice lovers crossed the river last night for the enormous British Curry Awards at Battersea Evolution. Between dousing my tongue with milk to calm the fiery dishes, I chatted about Leveson with the Justice Secretary and adoption with the leader of UKIP. The former was coy, the latter seething.
Other political heavies braved the curries’ heat: a dinner jacket-less Patrick McLoughlin sat at a top table, as did Francis Maude, who was wearing a tie for a change. Maude was not too chatty with Nigel Farage; but sources close to the pinstriped-one say that Grayling was much friendlier.
The Justice Secretary went through a limited but subtly different range of facial expressions: polite bewilderment as the determined Indian drummers smashed away inches from his table, legitimate boredom as the event sponsor droned on about the growth of online takeaways, and finally, my favourite, genuine satisfaction at managing to open a bottle of champagne without anyone hearing the cork.
Grayling was obviously worried about being seen with the good stuff because he went to great lengths to open the bottle discreetly under the table. Champagne? What on earth would Dave say?
The Prime Minister made an appearance without actually being present: giant screens showed him lavishing vacuous praise on the industry. He was upstaged, once again, by Boris – the real deal – who went all the way to India yesterday.