AN American who hob-nobbed with Bill and Hillary Clinton at her birthday party today spoke about his trip for the first time -- and told how he also met Monica Lewinsky at the same bash.

Florida-born Alan Ford, of Hope Street, Accrington, was invited to attend Hillary's birthday party on October 27 1995, after being nominated by a close friend who is one of America's top civil servants.

At the time, Alan, who says he fell in love with Britain in 1970 while on a shopping trip to London and has stayed here ever since, had already managed to get a front row seat for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

But he never expected to return, let alone dressed as a cowboy.

Alan, who moved to Accrington after driving through the town by mistake and taking to its cobbled streets, said: "I was in America visiting friends for my birthday when I got a call from the FBI to ask me if I wanted to go.

"I said yes of course. I never found out exactly why I was chosen, but I think my friend had a hand in it. He got me into the inauguration in 1993.

"He'd have known I would have wanted to go to this, being an American from abroad."

"I thought it was a wind-up when they told me to wear cowboy costume, but it wasn't, so I had to dig out all that as well."

The event is also widely believed to be the first time Bill met Monica Lewinsky.

Alan said: "It was a great evening. Normal people like me mingled with senators and the First Lady wondered around talking to us all. I even danced with her mother and Bill, Hillary's mum and met Monica Lewinsky.

He added: "The whole thing was a lavish affair. The First Lady was dressed up as Dolly Parton and hay stacks had been thrown around the various rooms.

"A really lavish tex mex menu had been laid on. The guests even got to drive a small tractor from the dance room to the buffet room once Hillary had had a go.

"I was just scared I was going to hit something."

Alan, who was a teenager when he left America and has been able to live off a Trust Fund while in this country, has also lived in New York, Boston and Cape Canaveral.

Last weekend's inauguration of Texas governor George W Bush as the 43rd President of the USA brought back memories for Alan of his connection with what is arguably the world's most powerful household.

Alan added: "Being a Republican, I never thought I would be in the White House when they were. He did such a good job that, even when his mind was distracted by the Monica scandal, the country continued to prosper."

"I just hope that continues now, but as an American watching from afar, I am concerned that George W Bush will have a very negative approach to overseas affairs, which worries me.

"But I will never forget my night at the White House and meeting all the Clintons. They were such nice people.

"Who knows, perhaps I will bump into them in New York now Hillary is the politician there!"