Tuesday was Democracy Day - where better to find myself than at the seat of British Democracy, the House of Commons. Yes, I admit, I am a Name Dropper - but I don't do it that often. Or, when I do drop names, then they
are worthy, but hardly famous, types. Though the likes of Tall Margaret, Lovely Linda, Scottish Jean and Delia of the Warm Heart may well be achieving fame of sorts through the Daily Blog.
I was at the House
of Commons for the launch of a report on the future of local infrastructure, representing Voluntary Action Worthing, the organisation I am privileged to chair. I was accompanied by my VAW colleague, Natasha, and a very jolly time we had too.
We met up on the train. I phoned ahead to tell Natasha that I was in the second carriage, near the back. I had intended to hang out of the window when the train reached her station, but this is a bit more difficult on modern
trains. It is fortunate that the Old Gentleman didn't have this problem when he waved back at the Railway Children. The story might have never reached its satisfactory conclusion ("My Daddy, oh my Daddy!") had the train in question not been a good old Puffing
Billy with windows which you pulled down with a leather strap. Yes, indeed, I am showing my age...
We had worried rather about what to wear, given that it was an extremely cold day. Wrapping up warm while
at the same time looking appropriately elegant for the grand surroundings of the Terrace Pavilion was a Tall Order. Natasha, who has much more style than I, changed out of a darling pair of pink ankle wellies into smart heels; I stayed true to my long boots
with the wedge heels because I knew I had to walk from Victoria and back and I didn't want to totter along. Tottering is not a good look.
There was airport style security to negotiate in order to gain admission
to the House. I, of course, distinguished myself by setting off the alarms as I passed through. I explained about the artificial hip and shoulder to the sweet policewoman on duty. "Show-off!" she laughed, as she expertly frisked me for hidden weapons. Of which,
I hasten to assure you, there were none.
We were early for the Main Event so the charming receptionist on the desk in the Great Hall (no photographs, please) suggested that we take up places in the Public
Gallery to listen to the debate. Mr B and I did, once upon a time, take our children to listen to a Commons debate on the basis that we should introduce them, young as they were, to the Principles of Democracy. I seem to remember they weren't that impressed
but perhaps they were just too young?
To be honest, Tuesday's debate wasn't exactly scintillating until a bit of a scrap developed over whether the Scottish National Party, given Scottish independence
in some future referendum, would become a member of NATO and a seat of nuclear power. Too many ifs and buts as far as I was concerned - and, anyway, Natasha was nudging me and telling me it was time we made our way to the Terrace Pavilion.
For One Who Is Always Thinking Of Her Stomach, the reception had much to recommend it. It was reminiscent of last weekend's Jolly Girls Outing with an afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream plus
a selection of delicious cakes. All that was missing was the Jolly Girls themselves.
A scan of the room suggested that Natasha was one of the youngest in the gathering and I was one of the oldest. We therefore
covered all the bases perfectly. Both of our MPs turned up in response to my emails, though they didn't stay long. To be an MP, I have decided, one must perfect the art of being seen to be present before vanishing into thin air, all the while giving the impression
that you are on your way to some Even More Important Event.
I think we did pretty well, Natasha and I, at networking - aka nabbing poor, unsuspecting people and making them talk to us. All while balancing
a plate consisting of three finger sandwiches, a scone and an eclair with a cup of coffee.
The speeches were good. Lots of people took photographs, holding their mobile phones high above their heads to capture
the scene. I tried to do the same but ended up with a hazy shot of the backs of people's heads.
As we left, there was a display of country dancing going on. It seemed somewhat incongruous in the Seat of Democracy
but who am I to argue? We parted outside the House, Natasha making for Westminster tube station while I set off to walk back to Victoria Station.
I am glad I went with Natasha. It was so much more fun than
going alone. If there is ever a next time, I will be the one wearing pink ankle wellies. At my Great Age, I think I could probably just about get away with it.
Even in the Venerable Seat of British Democracy.