The Week I Sat Near the Prime Minister

Day 122

It’s not every week I manage to sit next to the entire government of a country. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This week was one of the first full weeks of British Summer and I can’t lie I’m really digging it. While not having AC is a pain, the Capital is a whole new place. The only problem with this is I still have a bit of work I have to get done before I can enjoy the new town that is London. 


SATURDAY, WATERLOO CAMPUS Decided to go into town and work on my paper at one of the libraries. It was too nice outside to stay long and I ended up ditching the library and headed outside to work for a while. I really missed this weather that’s for sure.


 FRIDAY, THE STRAND Walked all over town today returning books and meeting with professors. The whole vibe of London has changed. Everyone is suddenly nicer and a lot happier looking. Now I don’t know if that’s the suns doing or the fact there’s a nice bank holiday Monday. Either way, I’m here for it.


THURSDAY, STRATFORD I finally discovered a negative of all this sun. The sunrise is around 5:30 these days (It’ll be about 4:50 when I leave). Now you wouldn’t think that’s a massive problem unless your windows face east and you get a nice wake up at 5:50. It looks like I’ll be a morning bird for the foreseeable future. On the bright side (pun intended) I submitted a paper so one step closer to being done.


WEDNESDAY, WESTMINSTER The political nerd in me had a field day today. Knowing I only had a few more chances, I decided to head over to the Palace of Westminster and sit in on Prime Minister Question Time (PMQ). PMQ is a parliamentary tradition that happens every Wednesday at noon when the House is in session. The opposition parties have thirty minutes to question the government on issues of the day. And today wasn’t just any PMQs, the country is in the middle of an immigration scandal called Windrush. To keep a scandal short, basically, the Home Office tried to kick out people who immigrated from some Caribbean islands 50 years ago because they didn’t have the proper paperwork despite being British. The Home Secretary resigned Sunday night because of it, it’s a whole big hoopla, etc., etc. But anyway, it set the stage for an interesting little session.

Montana tagged along and we headed down around 10 to get in the standby line. As a non-Brit, I couldn’t get any tickets. Today was possibly the third time I’ve seen a gun in the U.K. and let me tell you, this place was armed to the teeth. We passed through the checkpoint, I got frisked for the first time, and headed inside. Now the Palace is pretty nice I have to say. Heck, I understand why they call it a palace now. The waiting room we were in was the nicest waiting room I’ve ever been in. We sat there for what must have been an hour before at the last minute they handed us passes and we sprinted to the House.

After walking through the narrowest stairwell and passing yet another checkpoint, we arrived in the public gallery in the House of Commons. You know how they say everything looks bigger on TV, well they aren’t lying. The chamber was surprisingly tiny. I also laughed a little bit that we were seated behind a nice layer of bulletproof glass. Apparently, after all the security checks, they still didn’t trust us not to toss a shoe at the PM.

We waited about 20 minutes before the two front benches got out onto the floor and PMQs began. I was sitting thirty feet away from both the PM and the leader of the opposition. That was already great, but then they started to talk. I love the British parliamentary debate. It is amazingly fantastic. Everyone is involved, there are insults covered in politeness, and the whole chamber is buzzing with electric energy. As promised the scandal made for a great debate, in part because the former Home Secretary was in the chamber and the whole mess started under the PM’s watch when she was Home Secretary in the David Cameron government. Oh, it was glorious. When the House adjourned for lunch, I was a very, very happy guy. I need to sit in on Congressional debate when I get home to see how we do it. Somehow, I don’t think it’ll be as fun. Now just that experience would have made for a great day, but I also sat in one of Churchill’s favorite chairs this afternoon. That’s a story for another time I think. 


TUESDAY, STRATFORD Finally, finally it’s glorious, glorious May. The trees are green, the air is warm, and the sun is out. You never realize you have seasonal depression until it’s gone. To add to my amazing new mood, I somehow managed to finish one of my papers. Yes, I know this is not a wildly amazing accomplishment, but hey I haven’t done all that much recently so this is kind of big for me. Now just to edit and submit the stupid thing.


Well, I’m almost done with papers. Come Tuesday I have to submit something, but after that, I’m free till the last week in May. I’ve got a few things planned for the coming weeks and life should be a little more fun. Well, I should get cracking on this last paper, I’ll see you next Sunday.

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