On Friday, Mr S boarded the Thames cruiser the Silver Sturgeon to join TV presenter and former tennis pro Andrew Castle in welcoming heavy hitters Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray back to London for the ATP World Finals.
But for Castle, it was a less experienced tennis player who was weighing on the former British No.1’s mind. ‘I played a charity match with Nick Clegg last month,’ the presenter, who regularly puts his old chum David Cameron through his paces on court, sighed during the Moët & Chandon Thames river cruise.
Although Nick Clegg had previously described the match as ‘great, great fun,’ Castle confided to Steerpike that relations between the pair were frosty, at best:
‘I said to him that I was going to leave my telephone on while we played, which I don’t normally do, and he went: “Oh really, why’s that?”
I replied that it was because I’m trying to sell my house, and he asked how it was going. I said that we haven’t had many offers, because of his stamp duty, basically.
He went, “really?” He was genuinely surprised that the policy has affected the sales of houses. I mean, what? So I told him off.’
The match saw Cameron’s tennis buddy beat the Deputy Prime Minister 6-4 in a one set doubles match, much to the Prime Minister’s delight.
‘David’s last message to me before I played Nick was “Make him sweat”.’
Not that Cameron will be having that effect on Clegg himself anytime soon. ‘They’ve played three times and Cameron has won three times,’ Castle says. ‘I’m not surprised after my match, but I don’t know if they’re planning a fourth match. Maybe they’re not consorting between now and May.’