41 Club Trip to Houses of Parliament, 25 March 2014

By your parliamentary correspondent

Our day started with 7 of us catching the 06.30 train from Scarborough. After much chuntering over whether it was better to face forwards or backwards, and comparisons between first and not first class travel, we settled down to a pleasant and on time journey.

Trainspotters at large

Trainspotters at large

As we arrived in London early, we decided to go to the British Museum to see the Viking exhibition. Whilst some in our party went by taxi, 4 of us went by tube, alighting at Russell Square. What we hadn’t realised was that Russell Square is one of the deepest tube stations in London. There are no escalators and only one lift, which had a huge queue. Vicky Calow, having missed her usual early morning boot camp, decided that we could go up the stairs. 175 steps later, having passed several heart attack contenders on the way up, we emerged, some may say invigorated, others would say knackered.

The Viking exhibition was enlightening. The areas of the world they got to in what appeared to be larger versions of the canoes at Peasholm was staggering. However I was very disappointed to learn that Noggin the Nog was not a real life character, nor did Viking helmets have horns.

Just hoping for the occasional Viking to come along

Just hoping for the occasional Viking to come along

We all met at the House and, having gone through airport security measures (but absolutely no checks on our identities), we found ourselves in the Terrace bar, with a view over the Thames. As the G and T’s flowed, I reflected on the fact that this was the first 41 Club event Peter and I had organised where all those who said they were coming actually turned up! Perhaps we should organise all our meetings like this.

The Robert Goodwill Appreciation Society meets

The Robert Goodwill Appreciation Society meets

The meal was in a long , narrow room, with us all sat along one table. The food and wines were very good, although various mutterings, coupled with the words ’how much’, were heard from some quarters. Dominic Grunwell availed us of the tale of his last visit to eat at the House, when, as a young lad, he came away with a full set of cutlery and a side plate stuffed down his shorts!

Let's see you get this little lot down your shorts, Dom

Let’s see you get this little lot down your shorts, Dom

The meal was addressed by Robert Goodwill, our local MP and Minister for Transport. He talked for about 10 minutes on nothing specific, despite prompts from John Wray of ‘What about the A64?’ Obviously it is still a case of watch this space.

Due to changes in the times the House sat, there were no public tours available when we finally emerged from the Dining Room. Maria Laws and I were shouted at when we tried to sneak a picture of the Commons Lobby, and only the intervention of Mark Laws , who they thought was some kind of foreign ambassador due to his accent, saved us from being hung, drawn and quartered. We were able to visit the public gallery of the House of Commons, where the debate was on responses to the budget. Such was the demand from the 10 people on the benches that they were limited to 7 minutes speech each. However, most of the debate was inaudible or incomprehensible, so most of us only stayed a few minutes.

The visit to the Strangers Gallery in the House of Lords was equally riveting. At least more Lords and Ladies were present, obviously enthralled by the discussion on Amendment 4035 of the Water Supply Services Bill. ‘Lordy Lordy’ Richard Coulson was very much at home there, as as soon as he sat down, he went to sleep. We did the honourable thing and left him there.

As our train wasn’t until 8pm, we went for a walk along the Embankment towards the City. We then crossed Blackfriars Bridge and back along Fleet Street, stopping for coffee and French patisserie on the way, to the Aldwych, where we caught a bus to Kings Cross. One of the party began to eulogise that it was a Routemaster 47c reverse engine, but then the cross cam differential bulge in the floor suggested it may have been a 48ar double……………………..(at this point your correspondent lost the will to live!)

The journey home was quiet- it’s amazing how tiring wandering round city streets can be. We also realised that, even though ‘the smoke’ had its vibrancy and its culture, it was nice to get home.

Thanks everyone for coming, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Simon Ward