Tuesday, April 24, 2007

moving in esteemed circles

Seeing a policeman with a gun always freaks me out, especially when it's a big one. Walking up to the House of Commons yesterday, where I attended a meeting organised by Andrew over at B4L about political blogging, I clocked, turning into the security area, that strange sight of a young copper with a large gun hooked over his shoulder. To get in to the Parliament building, in these post-Otis Ferry times, one needs to go through a little portakabin and be patted down, as well as having bags and phones scanned. I'm used to this at airports but it's strangely disconcerting doing so before going into our house of elected representatives. Hilariously, they stopped Damian, up ahead of me, noting that he appeared to have a knife in his bag. 'Can we examine that, Sir', they asked, sternly. His swiss army knife was duly produced, fingered by the security staff, and returned to him. We were ushered into the building. Good to know that the House of Commons security people are thorough and mindful of potential stabbers.

Once inside, we dispensed with the necessary business of the evening and devoted our time, as swiftly as possible, to persuading the very impressive Tom Watson MP (who later announced, "if you'll excuse me, I have to go and support my government for a change") to let us into a House of Commons bar and start haranguing the inmates. We were duly led through labyrinthine corridors to the small, well-lit and exceedingly cheap Lords Bar, which was populated with a few MPs and groups of earnest young researchers, and which stocked House of Lords branded Port behind the bar. It is, needless to say, very exciting having a drink there, and I fought an urge to text every single one of my friends boasting 'I'm getting drunk in the House of Lords'. Alright, I did let one or two know...

Had a really good evening actually, and greatly enjoyed meeting some people I've known or known of online for years but never met in the flesh 'til now. The whole experience was very positive and while I'm probably no closer to returning my vote to the Labour party, I'm definitely considering faking it and joining Bloggers4Labour so that I get to spend more evenings in such illustrious surroundings.

I should mention, in case anyone thinks my loyalties are wavering, however, that it was still a wrench to spend an evening away from my beloved local, The Crescent, and although it cannot offer quite so much in the way of ornate decoration, the bar-stuff have nothing to fear from my flirtation with high society.

11 comments:

Ems said...

that sounds great!

has your blog changed its design in some way? it looks different :s

jonathan said...

It was good - if you've not been to the House of Commons you should go, it's a really impressive building. Going to one of the bars felt like quite a privilege!

Blog design's not been altered but I did switch to a different font, just for a change. Look OK?

Andrew Brown said...

Glad you had fun, sorry not to have talked to you for longer.

Of course next time I'll have to point at you and scream "entryist" or something. ;-)

Ali P said...

Oh come on J, you must have texted everyone in your phonebook, I got two telling me where you were, and was quite confused, so pleased to understand the context. Andrew's site is so impressive, I'm going to forward it to my dad; a staunch supporter. I used to be taken out of primary/secondary school near elections to canvass leaflets and stand and cross off names at the polling booths!

dan said...

Forgive me Comrade Ali for having all this time overlooked your Socialist credentials ; )

I'm reminded by all this talk on Blogs today of the trip to London of that episode of Citizen Smith where Wolfie storms Parliament single handed to secure "Freedom for Tooting".

Ali's Dad used to watch this I bet!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8f_d7WNjiY

jonathan said...

It was nice to meet you finally, Andrew - hopefully we'll get a better chance to chat in the future. Once I have taken over your party and bent it to my ill-thought-out trotskyite agenda, obviously...

Elsewhere, good point, Dan: what does your socialist dad think of you employing a cleaner, Ali? :-)

Ali P said...

I don't employ a cleaner. Steve employs a cleaner, and he's a tory boy through and through (spitting noises). Last week he funnily put a 'Balham Young Conservatives' newsletter in my bag and I felt violated and sickened.

We can't discuss politics or we'd not be together. And if my dad EVER found out, there would be tears. And no, Dad doesn't know he employs a cleaner.

jonathan said...

"I don't employ a cleaner. Steve employs a cleaner".

Ha ha, yeah, OK, I was being a bit unfair! I'm only jealous and masking the fact that I'd secretly like a cleaner behind a thin facade of social conscience...

Ali P said...

I honestly can't see what's wrong with having a cleaner. You acknowledge a deficit in your time, or your time is too precious/in short supply to keep your house clean, you employ an expert who's much better than you, you give that person a job and you pay them well....seriously. Better than most temp positions. AND you leave them appreciative messages and tips and pressies during the festive season. Is this flying in the face of socialism entirely? Some people actually enjoy cleaning you know. I used to be one of them.

The ex-compton ave cleaning lady x

jonathan said...

My mum hired a cleaner for quite a few years, and calls herself a socialist, and, actually, I don't think it does entirely fly in the face of socialism, no. But I always remember that I had that classic liberal middle class socialist thing of being a bit squeamish about the fact that we had a cleaner - it just seemed a step too close to being a toff!

I'm actually reading about immigration at the moment, and you could argue that if we all spent a lot less time attending feel-good charity concerts aimed at ending global politics and spent more time hiring and paying migrant workers like Steve's polish cleaner, we'd do a lot more to alleviate world poverty. Current aid is appallingly low ($79bn a year) and yet people from poor countries working in rich ones send home around $480bn a year, more than six times as much aid as we provide. Unfortunately, our govt is looking to limit, rather than encourage, immigration.

So actually, you could argue that hiring the cleaner is quite a socialistic gesture.

Still like teasing you about it, though ;-)

Ali P said...

Interesting facts. Also, I have to say I've experienced the skills of the Polish twice and both times they have been awesome- great work ethic. We had builders in to re-decorate Steve's flat and do some re-plastering and they worked like machines....looking at us as if we were bonkers when we offered them tea and biscuits! Roll on Snapper tonight Mr Shippers. x