‘… and not only that, he actually elbowed Philip in the ribs and said something frightfully vulgar about ‘that’s why they call them ladies-in-waiting’. I didn’t know what to be more mortified about, his lewd joke or the fact he gave me an obscene wink as he said it.

“Honestly, Mabel, I’ve been trying to ban the servants and the rest of the household staff from winking at each other all the time. It’s so American and makes one frightfully paranoid that they’re all laughing at something they shouldn’t be laughing at.

“And then Philip started coughing and wheezing and we had to get Damian the footman to run and fetch his bath-chair. And, I kid you not, Mabel, do you know what he said next? He turned to me and said very loudly: ‘I hope there isn’t an engine on that scooter, ma’am, if you know what I mean’ and gave me another indecent wink.

“Honestly, they simply don’t pay me enough to have to put up with this. They only gave me a few months’ notice. Did I tell you that: just a few months? They were all so confident he wouldn’t want to come because of all the Brexit tomfoolery and told me not to worry about a single little thing.

“When you and Dorothy and Nigella came round for curry and whist last week they actually wanted to frisk you all because the CIA had got wind of a plot to assassinate him. ‘What, in the Palace?’ I jolly well asked him. ‘I’m afraid we can’t take any chances after what happened to Lincoln,’ they said.

“Mabel, I don’t want to upset you but they tried to get me to cancel our whist game because of security concerns. It seems they found out about those naughty assignations you had with that rather dishy Russian envoy all those years ago. And remember the time you disappeared with that dashing Romanian chap with the moustache during the Ceausescu banquet? Well, they know all about that too. I was telling Philip the other evening that you did rather like your reds on top of the bed, Mabel, and not under it, you naughty, naughty minx. It sent Philip off on one of his wheezing fits again.

“I mean, they all keep bashing on about how much we cost the country and how many properties we have. B-o-o-o-o-o-r-ing. How would they like to spend every day banged up in this gilded cage in the centre of town with thousands of the hoi-polloi gawping at your house and trying to catch a glimpse of you through the curtains? And then having to let your house be over-run by these beastly foreigners at bloody short notice.

“Remember that time you and I and Nigella were playing spin the bottle after we’d over-indulged on the cherry brandy? Well it turns out that someone lurking outside the gates caught a glimpse of Nigella cavorting about in her foundation garments singing the song from Titanic and they actually took a picture with one of those long lenses.

The National:

“Well it seems dear Philip put his foot down and had him shot. Turns out he was a Saudi dignitary and it nearly threatened some kind of arms deal that Thatcher’s boy was planning. His mum was very cross, which almost make the whole escapade jolly well worth it, if you ask me.

“Honestly, Mabel, I was glad to see the back of Mr President and his unspeakable entourage. They are such unrefined churls. They turned their noses up at everything. Charles and I had got in a few cases of Chateau Lafite Rothschild for the occasion. Do you know what he said when he saw the bottle? ‘With all due respect, ma’am, I’d call this a Chateau Leftie Rothschild: I sell it for 50 bucks in my hotels.’ Poor Philip, he started wheezing again and began making shooting gestures before reaching for his oxygen mask. And the dinner itself was an absolute disaster. That wife of his insisted on cutting up his duck a la Provencal for him and saying ‘my Donald, he doesn’t like this, and my Donald, he doesn’t like that’.

“I swear to God, Mabel, she had a hip flask underneath her ballgown that she kept reaching for and long before the end she wasn’t making any pretence about it. And then she insisted on coming across and sitting beside me and got all tired and emotional. ‘My life is shit,’ she kept repeating to me.

“And then just as I was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel our guest of honour started banging his fist on the table about Huawei and what he was going to do to the Chinese, despite the fact that

Mr Xiaoming, the awfully polite Chinese ambassador, was sitting just a few places down. ‘My people tell me that your Mr Corbyn is in bed with these commies. If that Red bastard ever turns up in my country I’ll have him shot’.

“I really like Mr Xiaoming, Mabel, and he doesn’t deserve this; he always sends me some rather wonderful special-reserve Long Jing green tea via the diplomatic pouch. And do you know what, Mabel, it always gives me a rather thrilling little jolt in the middle of the day.

“And then that dreadful oik Michael Gove squirted up to our end of the table as he always does on occasions like this and got all obsequious and sweaty.

Gove started telling the President about some construction opportunities that were coming down the pipeline in the Middle East as part of some arms deal trade-off and could they meet up before he left. Afterwards our guest leant across to me and asked: ‘Where’s that accent from’. ‘Wales,’ I replied. Oh Mabel, I couldn’t resist it and then Philip started wheezing again.

“The worst, though, was yet to come, Mabel. You know my dancing days are behind me, sweetheart, and I’ve given express instructions to the Home Office that this is understood by all of our foreign guests. Our man clearly didn’t get the message. He grabbed me rather roughly and propelled me to the floor, yelling: ‘I hear you were a bit of a gal back in the day, your maj. People say I dance like John Travolta’. More John Revolting, I’d say.

“Anyway, same time as always next week, Mabel dear. Did I tell you that Mrs May has asked if she could join us, poor dear. I said yes; I do hope you don’t mind.

Auf Wiedersehen, pet …