Football the main attraction

Timing is everything. At the Children’s Society Ball last week – the latest event in its crammed calendar – Backchat could not help but notice that one of the charity’s main benefactors, Manchester United FC, was conspicuous by its absence.

Clearly it had nothing to do with the venue, which was Claridges. Nor with the guests, who last year included the likes of Linford Christie, Stephen Berkoff, Penny Smith and Vanessa Feltz, and this year the likes of Penny Smith and Vanessa Feltz, again.

The constant rushing between the dining room and the hall (which housed a television) offered something of an explanation. The screams of “Get in!” and “My God, he’s fallen over!” left little doubt.

Unfortunately, the distracting TV coverage of the European Cup final also left the overseers of the auction with fewer bidders than they expected.

Insurer Ecclesiastical, meanwhile, had two tables, six hacks and one delighted United fan.