What a strange day, Dear Reader.
As you may have spotted from other posts on here, I work in Parliament. Consequently, most days I
have lunch in Parliament as well. There are many places to eat in the Parliamentary estate, but as I spend most of my time on the Lords side of the building, I most often eat in what is called the River Restaurant which is attached to the Lords bar.
It’s a modern canteen-style dining room with a random mix of members’ staff, House staff in funny uniforms, and peers sitting in there. As a general rule, people just sit wherever there’s space and there’s not too much worry about Lords or Ladies sitting on their own, etc.
It’s really rather convivial and not at all snobbish or anything of the sort. Except for the rather odd Victorian uniforms you see from time to time. The Peers I’ve worked with have been some of the most down-to-earth and affable people I’ve met.
Anyway, today I sat in the first available seat to tuck into my healthy tuna steak and veg – still dieting, you see – only to find that Neil Kinnock was sat next to me being interviewed by a journalist about Labour history.
Neil Kinnock is one of my political heroes with his brilliant speeches and the beginnings of dragging the Party toward electability. I choose to airbrush out of my mind the falling over on the beach and weird Sheffield rally and focus on his warning of a Thatcherite Britain and his questioning of being the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to get a higher education.
I sat tucking into my food trying to appear all cool and relaxed and not in awe of the Bevanite Welshman from my childhood. And what a joy it was, Dear Reader, to hear him tell his stories of Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Barbara Castle, Thatcher and Militant. His skills as a raconteur are almost as good as his skills as an orator.
I listened entranced as he talked about off-the-record conversations, debates, and battles won and lost. It was utterly fascinating and I hope the journalist who writes it up does it all justice. Sadly, I suspect the journalist will be unable to convey the mimicry skills of Kinnock as he ran through a series of – rather good – impersonations of various Labour and Union people during his meander through history.
As they wound up their interview, I couldn’t help myself.
I took out my moleskine and asked for his autograph. Given Parliament’s propensity for rules and conventions, I suspect that broke any number of protocols but I couldn’t resist.
“thank you Lord Kinnock”
“It’s Neil. ‘Lord Kinnock’ makes me think of a pub”
I know it’s all a bit childish to be in awe of someone else and probably laughable to some, especially people in the party but I’ve always admired Kinnock. There’s just something about him I relate to.
I’m the first Carr to go to University for a thousand generations after all.