Sunday, 11 December 2011

Rose's 12 Days of Christmas: Liberal Christmas capers

Jerry Yanover was sipping on a vodka, the ever-present Chesire cat grin becoming even bigger, if that was even possible.

He had done it.

Outsmarted Joe Clark's fledgling government over John Crosbie's budget. He and Allan J. MacEachen managed to bring down the Tory government at the Liberal Christmas Party.

That's one of my best Parliament Hill memories. No one could believe the Liberals. What a crafty bunch.

That was 1979, and one of the best Christmas parties the Liberal ever threw.

There were many others, of course, with lavish dinners, free flowing booze, more than the odd hookup.

If only Room 200 could talk.

I have fond memories of the holiday parties during my decade working as a journalist, then a Liberal flak, on Parliament Hill.

Like the time I got to sit at the head table of the Liberal Party Christmas party right beside his highness, Pierre Trudeau. The little man made small talk and ate nearly an entire croc en bouche himself.

There was hardly enough for the rest of us.

But we didn't complain.

He let us have all the wine.

We gave him a VCR and a copy of Superman, as a joke, because he'd recently squired Margot Kidder around town. He laughed, and said he'd use the VCR to show his kids nature films. What a cut up.

Or the Christmas party in Toronto, the Last Supper it was called, because Trudeau was leaving that year. I ended up at Gordon Lightfoot's house with Debra Davis. Gordie drove us himself in his white Cadillac.

We sat around talking to music executives while Gordie shot stick.

Or the time, again in Toronto, when we had to get Tom Axworthy back after a long, lubricated party. I remember finding his undershirt in my purse. The purser threatened to boot us off the airline and we were saved only when Mike Duffy intervened. That was a swell party.

One of the most memorable for me was the year before I joined the Liberals, when I was still working as a journalist in the hotroom. I decided to spend New Year's Eve at Canadian Press. Freddie Chartrand, the CP photographer, thought I should look like a present so he set about wrapping the tape from the wire machine around my head.


He slipped and gave me a paper cut -- on my retina.

The Ottawa Hospital is never a great place to spend New Year's Eve especially when you're drunk.

That New Year's gave me lasting memories. I developed scar tissue on my eyeball which lasted for five years and would occasionally open up, allowing me to relive the painful episode over and over again.

Thanks Fred.

It was the holiday gift that kept on giving.

I don't go to Christmas parties on the Hill anymore.

I never get invited by anybody. But I don't care.

I'm probably not missing much.

I heard the Liberals were holding their party in a closet in the Confed block.

And don't get me started on the Tories. They were making a list, checking it thrice, to make sure no journalists, lobbyists or other fun people were invited.

And they had a chaperone.

The Liberals would never have tolerated a chaperone. He would have been found naked and tied to the Speaker's chair.

Maybe we did that once.

I can't for the life of me remember.

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