Early on the Tuesday morning of the Tory conference while dosy hacks were still sleeping off the effects of late night parties, a dapper 46 year old man was doing a spot of exclusive shopping.
Taking advantage of privileged access to the most secure shopping mall in the UK PM Dave and his minders were planning a surprise present to placate his long-suffering wife. It might be his birthday but Sam, the love of his life was getting a mite fed up with Devon B& Bs and kicking her heels in airports waiting for easyJet flights. She was none too pleased that the birthday meal had to be at a simple Balti to assuage the austerity instincts of the British people when there is fine dining all over the Cotswolds.
Luckily for the PM the Birmingham conference plays host for some of the most exclusive niche stores possible. Harvey Nicks, Tory donating Crombie and Quo Vadis, a Birmingham jeweller, which makes unique and exquisite pieces from precious stones.
Now what would Dave choose. Was it to be a 100 per cent cashmere ladies shawl wrap coat – in Sam Cam’s fashionable black – retailing at £1275 from Crombies? The most expensive coat in the rack.
That could please her and a Tory donor to boot.
Or was it to be an exquisite piece of jewellery – the most expensive brooch in the stall by Quo Vadis. This brooch of an ocean-going liner was made from an Australian boulder opal stone, its decks were made of diamonds and it had three 18 carat gold funnels. It was also the most expensive item in the shop – retailing at £5800.
Purchase this and a small businessman – the bed rock of the Tory Party – would be thrilled. But it might remind Sam Cam of the Titanic, not an auspicious moment.
And then there was Harvey Nicks. They could sample their £50 of late bottled port and their champagne was not that exclusive, only up to £42 a bottle.
Perhaps the answer was a packet of wild jasmine tea – at £8.50 sufficiently exclusive – with the flowers searched out by hunter gatherers, true entrepreneurs prepared to go the extra mile to find the petals and not strangled by the EU bureaucracy of the social chapter.
Of course it can’t be said with the Leveson inquiry into press behaviour pending, exactly what Dave brought for Sam. It would be an intrusion of privacy. But what is not fiction are the prices of the goods on sale for the Tory faithful in this secure shopping venue at a time when people have difficulty making ends meet. As the woman from Harvey Nicks told me: ” We only come to the Conservatives, we don’t do Labour or the Liberal Democrats”. Enough said.