The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Grand Tour host says he nearly puckered up with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities at a party several years ago, while adding that his New Year’s Eve celebrations this year had been his quietest ever.
In his weekly column for The Sun, he wrote: “Lots of people don’t like New Year’s Eve parties.
“They shudder at the idea that they must have a good time and that they must get trousered and they must kiss absolutely everyone when Big Ben strikes midnight and that they really don’t enjoy crawling into Dry January with a head full of wallpaper paste and a bit of sick on their shirt.
“Well, I’m sorry, but I love spending New Year’s Eve with as many people as possible and drinking what a doctor would call lethal amounts of booze and not really coming round until about January 11.
“A few years back, I was at a huge New Year’s Eve party and, as the clock struck midnight, I found myself jammed in a hall face to face with the pursed lips of Michael Gove.
“And I even enjoyed that.
“So this year, after the loneliness of lockdown 12 months ago, I was determined to get into my drinking trousers and let rip.
“So, as soon as Boris gave us the green light, I was out of the blocks, rounding up all the people who at this time of year are normally on a beach in Barbados or skiing on an Alp.
“Within days I had 100 people who said they’d come. Great.
“But then Omicron got its running shoes out, so within a couple of days, it was 70.
“Then it was 12. And then it was five.
“No matter,” I thought. “More sausage rolls for everyone.”
“Because then my partner’s eldest daughter tested positive, which meant we had to paint a plague cross on the door and not let anyone in.
“I was not going to be beaten by this, however, so I called a friend and said she should have the party at her house.
“But she said we’d all have to do lateral flow tests beforehand and that wasn’t possible because every shop within 100 miles had sold out.
“Just when all seemed lost, I got a call from another mate saying she was having a do at her place.
“Excellent. I booked a taxi immediately . . . and then cancelled it even more immediately because she went down as well.
“Every day we are given official figures showing how many people have tested positive — but they are wrong.
“Completely wrong. Because when someone catches Covid, they go to their bedroom for a week and, most of the time, don’t even tell a doctor.
“So far as I can tell, the only person I know who’s seeing in 2022 in robust good health is me.
“Which is why I celebrated the New Year on my own, with a poached egg on toast and a glass of sherry.”