British newspapers were gleeful as they reported yesterday and today that Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife accidentally left their eight-year-old daughter in a local pub after a recent Sunday lunch.
Mr. Cameron and his wife Samantha, who had enjoyed a traditional lunch at their local Buckinghamshire pub with their three children and some friends, only realized their daughter Nancy was missing when they returned to their official weekend residence, Chequers, a 15-minute drive away, The Sun newspaper reported yesterday.
Mr. and Mrs. Cameron traveled in separate cars and both thought Nancy was with the other. One of his spokesmen said the Camerons were "distraught" after realizing they had left Nancy behind and the prime minister had rushed back to the pub to fetch her.
The story has been a media sensation for several reasons. Such a personal blunder on the part of a politician makes irresistible copy for newspapers, especially at a time when the headlines are dominated by grimmer news, from economic woes to the stormy summer rains. But British newspapers have a particular love, at any time, of exposing the intimate lives of the famous, especially those in political power.
And that, of course, is because such stories are popular with their readers, judging from the long lists of comments left on news websites. In this case, the story seems to have struck a chord with the innumerable British parents who have on occasion left behind their own children.
This morning the popular BBC 4 Today program invited parents to call in with their own tales and was deluged with calls and emails, including one from the doctor who left her newborn baby under a restaurant table after dinner for several minutes.
A small amount of the media coverage of daughter Nancy’s adventure has been high-minded. “When you’re in a big job – and they don’t come bigger than being a dad or being Prime Minister – to be successful you need to know about the detail and be able to react to it. And you take responsibility for it all,” wrote Fiona Phillips in the Daily Mirror.
But most of the rest has been jocular, although no opportunity for political point-scoring has been lost. Much has been made in recent weeks of Mr. Cameron’s supposed ability to “chillax,” a term used in a recent biography of the prime minister that detailed the amount of time he spent relaxing.
In its report of the saga the Sun newspaper noted that Mr. Cameron liked to drink several glasses of wine with his lunch.
“Troubled families, Mr. Cameron?” joked the tabloid Daily Mirror yesterday, a reference to the government’s launch the same day of a new campaign to tackle welfare dependency.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, meanwhile, had to dodge a question on BBC radio about the parallels between "problem families" and those parents who accidentally leave their children in a pub. "We're definitely not talking about that – mainly for my job security," he said.
The satirical news website News Biscuit used the story to joke about the woes of the embattled culture secretary, who has been questioned by the Leveson inquiry on press ethics about his role in News Corp’s BskyB bid, with the headline; “Cameron admits trying to leave Jeremy Hunt behind in a pub.”
One of the best jokes, however, came from a member of the public. “Dear Today,” wrote Chris Driver of Nantwich to the Radio 4 program. “What hope for the economy if our prime minister can't count to three?"