Audio: Portillo tells tales of political intrigue and fascinating rail journeys on Grantham stage

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Former MP and government minister Michael Portillo took to the stage twice on Sunday in the Guildhall for his show Life: A Game of Two Halves.

The title of the show refers to Mr Portillo’s political career followed by his media career which took off ten years ago.

Michael Portillo on the staircase in the Guildhall before his Grantham show. Photo: 0316A

Michael Portillo on the staircase in the Guildhall before his Grantham show. Photo: 0316A

His show had a funny and serious side, but it was interesting to see a self-deprecating aspect to the man who at the beginning of his show said he belonged to a club of ‘former future prime minsters’. In 2001 he did put himself forward for the leadership of the Conservative Party but came third behind Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke.

Among his fascinating stories he told of how he became an advisor to Margaret Thatcher at the age of 25. He says the Grantham-born Prime Minister was very much the same in public as she was in private.

The former Cabinet Minister and Shadow Chancellor referred to his famous ‘Portillo moment’ when he suprisingly lost his seat at the 1997 General Election as well as his Ministerial post when the Tory government fell.

Talking to the Journal before his show, he said he didn’t miss politics at all, although he enjoyed most of his time in politics. But he found being in opposition ‘humiliating’. His media career goes from strngth to strength and he said he was making another series of Great British Railway Journeys this summer as well as another series on the Continent and a new series of rail journeys in the United States.

Michael Portillo signs a book at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham.

Michael Portillo signs a book at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham.

People queue to meet Michael Portillo before his show at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham.

People queue to meet Michael Portillo before his show at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham.