Off the record... Researchers' stories

Written by 22 Nov 2010 on 22 November 2010 in Culture
From unexpected encounters with troublesome members of the public to overheard crushes, here are more tales from Westminster life

I am one of the few researchers who actually lives in their MP's constituency so it is not uncommon for me to occasionally see a constituent who we have met in a surgery or at a community event. I was on the tube one morning with my face firmly planted into my Metro reading about Lady Gaga's new dress when I caught the eye of what researchers term "one of our favourites". They are normally the constituents who ring you up for hours at a time to complain about the colour of flowers at a roundabout. It was too late. He had noticed me. Cue an awkward five minutes where he took me to task over my MP's voting record and, of course, expenses which he had studied down to the very last detail. In the end, I had to feign getting off at a station five stops early, before jumping on the next train!

Secrets spill out

I was at our party conference recently and, as one does, found myself gravitating towards the bar with a number of other researchers. We started discussing which MPs out of the new intake we found attractive. I, ashamedly, said there was one MP that I was particularly fond of. My friend soon pointed out that he was standing next to me. And yes, he had heard our conversation. Still, he gave me a knowing smile. I think he loves me...

Taking on the system

I had a call from IPSA asking me to call them urgently about a claim my MP had submitted via their oh-so-simple online system. I immediately began to panic - had I inadvertently helped put through a claim for an artex ceiling, a duck house or even a Waterford crystal vase? The posh and quite forthright lady from IPSA said I had attempted to submit a two-page invoice but had forgotten to enclose the second page. I pointed out that the invoice was doublesided and she only need turn the page over. A small victory for the MP's office!

Monday blues

It was my turn to go out to assist my MP with his Monday morning surgery. Despite having a fairly heavy weekend and being quite tired, I got up in good time and hopped on the tube. For the final leg of my journey I jumped on a bus, still with plenty of time to spare. It was then my weekend caught up with me. I feel asleep and woke up at the end of the bus route, near Oxford Circus. I had to catch another bus back and arrived a good 45 minutes late. My MP was quite sympathetic: "The traffic was bad today," he said. "Oh yes," I lied, "terrible."

A dead gesture

My MP asked me to buy some flowers for a well-known DJ at the local hospital radio station who was leaving. I duly went to the local florist on a Wednesday afternoon, made the order, and arranged them to be delivered on Friday. It later turned out that the DJ left the radio station on the Thursday (my MP's mistake, I stress). What's worse is that the DJ then went away for a week's holiday meaning that when she returned home - where the flowers were eventually delivered by one of my now ex-colleagues - they were pretty droopy. Still, it's the thought that counts!

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Tags: Issue 30, Researchers' Stories

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