Last night William Hague, Foreign Secretary, surprised the chairman and committee when he walked out of the Richmond Working Men's Club completely unaided.
Mr. Hague has been a keen attender of the annual Richmond 'do', which the club arranges secretly so that selected Government ministers can "come and let their hair down," said Wilf Harbottle, Richmond WMC's chairman.
"Willy is usually paralytic by about half-past ten," he said. "We've often wheeled him out in a barrow, and last year he crashed out on a wooden trestle table."
Veteran beer-drinking champion Norman Gormley, club secretary, added: "I couldn't believe my bleary eyes when I saw him walking out steadily at midnight. Everybody else was absolutely blasted."
Mr Hague later claimed that colleagues had been lacing his pints of bitter with low-alcohol beer.