Last night Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), gave the packed house at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne a passionate and entertaining political display.
This was a cross between the best of stand-up comedy and a highly intelligent political debate.
As I drove to the event I had wondered if I would be met by a rowdy anti-UKIP crowd or if this would end up as a poorly attended damp squib. But on passing the venue on the way to the car park all I could see was a lengthy queue down the street and, on later joining it, found them all to be either supporters or just curious.
But what should please UKIP and worry the other parties is that these people were not the retired, white, middle class reactionary swivel eyed loons that are normally ascribed to the party. All ages and walks of life were represented. Security was tight just in case but they quickly mellowed.
Reminiscent of a Ronnie Corbett sketch the bare stage had nothing on it but a large green armchair in the centre facing us and a small coffee table to its right, on which stood an unopened bottle of red wine and a glass as well as Nigel's crib notes.
There was an air of expectancy and energy in the theatre, which erupted into applause as Nigel entered stage left. He then took a quick bow, made a joke about the screw top on the wine bottle, poured himself a glass then gave a riveting two part performance only occasionally glancing at his notes on the table.
Before the interval Mr Farage took us through his early life and career, which had formed his political thinking and made him take the plunge into politics from what was a very lucrative career in metals trading (as well as a hedonistic lifestyle). It was here that you got a real feel for the depth and emotion of the man.
I would not want to steal his thunder in case he makes more of these appearances, but to say that he was forthright about the European Union and some of the people that work there as well as some of our domestic politicians would be an understatement. Merkel, Van Rompuy, Baroness Ashton as well as Cameron, Miliband and Clegg were all the objects of his disdain. But he also took time to praise those that he thought deserved it.
Throughout he stressed that it was not Europe that he hated, it was the institution of the European Union and all it stood for that he detested. After all he knows what he's on about, he has travelled Europe extensively partaking of its food and wine while meeting delightful people and he is married to a German so, as he put it, he knows the 'dangers of living in a German dominated household'.
Poor old Herman Van Rompuy, the ex Prime Minister of Belgium, got quite a lashing as he had several minutes of Nigel's time dedicated to him – but you would expect that wouldn't you?
The interval came all too soon and after a small tub of strawberry ice cream and a glass of house red I re-entered the hall and came across the camera crew. "Will you be making some CDs to sell?" I asked "Oh no." came the reply "We're from Belgian TV." I laughed and said pull the other one given that their ex-PM was taking such a verbal hiding and I got a blank look in return "No we are from Belgian TV." I laughed and walked away then turned back "You're kidding right?" I said and he just shook his head.
I went up to the stage where attendees were busily writing questions to be put in a bucket that Nigel would pull out and answer at random in part two. I asked one of the organisers and he confirmed that yes they were definitely from Belgian TV – much to the amusement of the front row where I was sat.
The second instalment gave Nigel the opportunity to show that he was master of his brief, a sort of Nigel Farage's question time. And he did that superbly pulling the questions out of the old white bucket (probably taken from the stage cleaning cupboard) and giving straight answers to the direct questions. The only points I would question is that when asked if the UK would ever do a Cyprus style 'bail-in' he said no, the people would not stand for it. But we have already seen this bail-in type of strategy used for the Co-op bank rescue. The other was when he was questioned on doing a deal with the Tories he gave the unequivocal answer that he would never do a deal with 'David Cameron' – maybe leaving some wriggle room after a change in the Tory leadership perhaps?
Nigel's message though was clear. It is not just the UK that needs to get out of this Balkan style EU straight jacket, it is every country in it that needs to leave and rediscover themselves. The country also needs to be run by the people for the benefit of all the people in it not just the privileged few. And what is right wing about that he asks.
After this superb performance Nigel surprised us when he said that this was the first talk he had ever given in this format. Hopefully there will be more to come.
Afterwards there was a lengthy queue to get a signed copy of his book (Flying Free) and one of the security guards said that he hadn't seen such a large audience or book-signing queue in a long while.
If you are a supporter you will definitely have lapped this up. If you were an undecided or a non-supporter and sat and listened you may well have come out questioning your own preconceived ideas.