Every seat in the house was sold for an interesting and candid talk by former cabinet minister Michael Portillo in Aboyne this week.
Crowds thronged to the village’s Deeside Community Theatre last Saturday (September 21) to hear the personal tale of the former MP for Kensington and Chelsea that no political histories or biographies would print.
Before the show’s beginning, Mr Portillo signed copies of his books on the railways for enthusiastic fans who qued up.
The receptive audience laughed heartily as Mr Portillo introduced himself to the crowd as “former future Prime Minister Michael Portillo”, a club, he said, which has recently welcomed David Milliband and is looking forward to brother Ed’s arrival.
Standing on a sparsely dressed stage he continued in this vein throughout the evening, his self-depricating style much appreciated by the audience.
Born to a Scottish Mother and Spanish Father, Portillo (‘little door’ in Spanish) spoke touchingly of his father’s flight from Spain in 1939 after fighting on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War.
Speaking more generally on the conflict he acknowledged that without it his father would never have moved to England and never met his mother.
“The Spanish Civil War is in my DNA, without it I wouldn’t exist” he said.
Another serious note was hit when he came to talk about foreign policy, describing the vote on the Iraq War in 2013, where he voted in favour of intervention, he said that he had had to live with the decision “for the rest of my life” and drew parallels to the current crisis in Syria.
Mr Portillo took questions in the second half which ranged from the light hearted (“How many coloured shirts and jackets do you own?”) to the more serious issues of Scottish independence, Gibraltar and high speed rail.
The talk came as part of the Aboyne and Deeside Festival.