Worst Take of the Week: Defending the Presidents Club vs Michael Gove's House Party
It's a Rich-Boy Party Special!
Left: Images of Birmingham Premium / Alamy Stock Photo; Right: Parliament
Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.
What’s the story? The Presidents Club, an annual charity dinner, was the subject of a Financial Times expose. The male-only event was lambasted for demanding female hostesses wear revealing outfits, while several attendees were accused of groping women.
Reasonable take: Squalid.
Predictably Flavourless Times Take: Calm down, dear! It’s only the political and financial elite groping waitresses between bidding to slap their double-barrelled names on children’s wards!
The Presidents Club has had a good run on the take wheel. From the outrage when the story first broke on Wednesday, the backlash soon emerged, with lots of Very Sensible Writers deciding that defending this – this crumpled pile of sweaty black suits and blank cheques – was the hill they wanted to die on.
Brendan O’Neil obviously had a crack on Spiked, arguing the story was "utterly non-shocking news to anyone who knows anything about a) rich men b) Park Lane and c) sassy young women who early in life use their nous and looks to earn a buck".
The Times were gracious enough to publish two pieces, urging people to stop getting their specification black knickers in a twist. One, written by Naomi Firsht, acknowledged that the event was grim, and that "no woman employed as a hostess, or in any job, should have to put up with being groped", but reckoned the reaction was over the top. You can be angry about it, but not that angry. Shoot for about a four on the anger scale. Sort of frowning a bit. Yeah, that’s it, perfect.
The second Times take came from Harry Wallop, who wrote a column titled "What vile man goes to a Presidents Club dinner? Me, actually". In it, Wallop recounts his decade-old memories of the one time he went to the party, claiming he didn’t see any groping, before going on to add, "I didn’t stay for the after-party, where, it’s reported, most of this year's bad behaviour happened." Don’t know about you, but I’m glad to have all this nonsense cleared up by a man who didn’t go to a different party ten years ago.
What’s the story? Sarah Vine and Michael Gove’s daughter had a birthday party that turned into a mammoth sesh.
Reasonable Take: Kids will, very much, as they say, you know, be kids.
Dirty Take Burger With Monterey Jack Cheese: The teenagers were grinding their bottoms against each-other. What became of dignity? What became of respect? What became of England?
Yeah, this is great. Sarah Vine’s Daily Mail column this week is an account of her daughter’s 15th birthday party. Having hung some fairy lights, set up a gazebo and hid all the alcohol in the house, she tucked herself away in the living room – bottle of white, good book, Michael rewatching old episodes of Blue Planet – and left the kids to it. Then disaster struck:
"And then the boys began to arrive. Groups of three or four, polite as you like. But once they got downstairs, all that changed.... First, the dancing. Forget the awkward jerkiness of my youth: this was properly provocative, a mass of writhing, thrusting extremities… I descended into the pit, fighting my way through a mass of naked limbs. By the time I emerged I had confiscated several bottles of vodka, one Amaretto (obviously pinched from a parent’s drink cabinet), a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and some Lambrusco. Oh, and one very dodgy- looking cigarette."
Sarah Vine and Michael Gove had unwittingly opened their doors to a massive sesh. And not the tinny-share seshes we’re used to – a private school sesh, full of boys called George-Henry drinking lager through funnels, putting Drake’s second album on Spotify and daring each-other to put their blonde balls in Lalique vases.
The real gift of this story is the image of Sarah Vine wading through all the Depop Hilfiger and throwing them all out. Michael Gove in a dressing gown, trying to bundle a 6ft3" rugby player up the stairs, his glasses falling off, sliding around in a pool of Courvoisier.
Vine concludes by asking the heavens: "How on earth am I going to protect my daughter from the twisted world in which she is growing up?" I guess, stop writing for the Daily Mail? I don’t know. Just a thought.
Prime Cut: Going to have to be the takesmiths defending the party full of boorish rich-boys. The Gove household is safe this week.