Off the record: Researchers' Stories
A local charity which does some excellent work in my MP's constituency was recently invited to Buckingham Palace. Sadly, the Queen was away so we had to make do with Prince Andrew. As a patron, my MP was invited – and I tagged along too. The fourth-in-line to the throne put on a good show. There was the usual: wine, canapés and, of course, polite chit-chat. My MP was unexpectedly required to say a few words. Startled to find himself called upon, he put his glass of red wine down on the nearest available surface. It happened to be a priceless, antique, oak panelled chest sans coaster. I saw the look on the face of one of the Palace staff as he did it and quickly removed the evidence.
When a work experience student arrives on their first day in Parliament, we tell them to go to reception and ring up to the office, and one of us will come down and meet them. A few weeks ago, we were taken aback when the student – admittedly a little younger than usual – turned up with his dad. They both came up to the office and met the team. I gave them a tour of Parliament and expected the dad would say his goodbyes and leave. He didn’t. In fact he came back to the office and sat with us all day – observing, asking questions, and if I’m being brutally honest, just getting in the way. I walked them both down to reception at the end of the day and asked politely whether we would be seeing him tomorrow. Fortunately, he said no – he just wanted to make sure his son settled in. It was actually quite sweet.
My MP, in a rush to catch a train from Euston, didn’t realise he hadn’t picked up all his tickets from the ticket collection machine. His journey required a change at York onto a smaller train and it was only when the ticket inspector came round that he realised his error. Fortunately, the inspector was a card carrying member of the Labour Party and recognised my MP – which is strange because not many people in his constituency even know who he is. He let him off on the proviso that we give the Tories a “good going over” in 2015.
Miliband v Murray
The Labour Staff Network recently held a summer reception for the overworked and underpaid researchers in Parliament. A good time was being had by all – the booze was flowing (courtesy of Bell Pottinger) and what’s more the TVs in the room were all showing Andy Murray’s Wimbledon quarter final match against Fernando Verdasco. (For those who don’t remember, it was a five set thriller with Murray coming from two sets down to win). The assembled staff were treated to a speech from Ed Miliband who popped along too. The slight problem was that Ed decided to give his speech standing next to one of the TVs showing the tennis. What’s more, he had the misfortune of timing his speech just as the fifth set was tied 5–5. Looking around the room, it was clear that all eyes were on what was going on in SW19 and not on Ed’s thoughts about how Labour can win in 2015. In fact, his peroration was completely forgotten as Murray crucially broke the big serving Spaniard to move ahead 6-5. One staffer commented afterwards: “It could only happen to Ed… ”