As typical days in the office go, Thursday 7th May was certainly not one of these. Hopping off the Tube as usual, I made my way along the corridor through the Houses of Parliament. Each time this walk reveals something new. This time my eyes were drawn to a small plaque on a courtyard pillar: “Near this spot, beneath the old House of Lords Chambers, Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators hid thirty six barrels of gunpowder with the intention of blowing up King James I…” I couldn’t help but compare this historic attempt to destroy our Monarch and Government with the situation today; political dissatisfaction and a very present threat of terror.
Political commentary and banter provided the backdrop to a distracted office throughout the day. Conversations and alcohol levels were cranked up a level at 5:30 when fellows and some of the staff headed to the parliament Sports and Social Bar: imagine walking through centuries-old stone corridors lined with wood panels, then into a pub resembling a corner of the Queen Vic in EastEnders circa 1980. A pint set us up for dinner, which set us up for the subsequent venue: The Cinnamon Club.
A friend had told me that during my time at Westminster, I absolutely had to try The Cinnamon Club – a restaurant/bar in the Old Westminster Library. What better occasion than Election night, to see the results roll in. Miraculously, our party of 15 or so managed not only to get in with jeans and trainers but also to get a table. We occupied the back wall of the cellar cocktail bar and looked on, wide-eyed, as a camera crew interviewed folk for their reactions. We were a game party and most of us went for cocktails. Disappointingly, though, our collection was rather yellow, and we enjoyed discussing the taste-to-price ratio rather more than the cocktails themselves. The bar was packed, and it was so noisy that to make conversation I had to shout at the fellows opposite me. At a non-descript moment just before 11 pm silence fell across the bar: there was no need to explain what was happening, we all knew: the first results were in!
The second seat was declared just after 11 pm, and I could have stayed there all night – literally; the bar was open all night, however, it had been an early start and there was work to be done on Friday, so when others made to leave, I joined in and got the bus home aware that going to sleep under one government, I would be waking under another.