Off the record: Researchers' stories
This article is from the May 2013 issue of Total Politics
My colleague confided in me the other day – so naturally I share it with you all – that he brought a girl back to the office after a particularly heavy night in the Sports and Social bar. What he, and his squeeze, hadn’t bargained for was that our MP would still be beavering away at his emails. My colleague tells me he didn’t know what was worse, the embarrassment of nearly being caught or the awkwardness on Monday when our boss, who, it's fair to say, has had marriage problems, quietly told him, “Well done. I’d have done exactly the same with a girl like her.”
Cough up for coffee
When people come to meet my MP, I often collect them from the reception area in Portcullis House and take them to a table where my MP will join us. To break any awkwardness, I always ask if I can get them a cup of tea or coffee, or even water. Unfortunately, most plump for an expensive latte. On days with a number of back-to-back meetings, this can end up being quite expensive. Once, after a particularly bad day when I spent nearly £20 on coffees for fucking lobbyists, I mentioned it to my MP. She promised she would reimburse me. Needless to say, I’m still waiting.
My MP was asked by a local do-gooder to write to the Honours committee endorsing a nomination of someone who'd been involved in a number of charitable projects in and around the constituency. We were under explicit instructions to keep the letter secret, but a work experience student inadvertently sent a copy of the letter to the person being nominated. However, despite the secrecy being blown, the individual duly received their honour in the New Year honours list.
A fly on the paywall
It’s a source of constant frustration in our office that The Times has a paywall. How on Earth are we supposed to read the latest Michael Atherton column? Fortunately, an enraged constituent sent an email to my MP after reading an article about housing policy – and kindly sent their login and password so we could view the entire story. I now use it every day, and smile knowing I'm, albeit in a minor way, ripping off Rupert Murdoch and his News International cronies.
I always dread the few months after Christmas, but not because of going back to be worked to the bone again. It's the calls I have to make and the letters to write to relatives of someone who's died to whom my MP had sent a Christmas card. We had a real wakeup call last year when the then office manager forgot to use an updated database. We received a call in January from a longstanding party member, saying that her husband, to whom we sent a card the previous year, was still dead…