There is only so much politics that you can take in a week. Unless of course you are Louise Mensch MP, who seems to Tweet for England. This week, gawks and stares in the Palace of Westminster and engages in bar room banter at Priestfield.


Definition: from the Greek. Poly, meaning many. Ticks, meaning blood sucking parasites.

Armed with such knowledge, it was with an uneasy tread that I approached the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday last week.  We were officially there to lunch with a local member of Parliament, but our real purpose -  known perhaps only to ourselves – was to gawk and stare at the famous and the fallen in this, the Mother of all Parliaments.

“There goes Lord Prescott” said our guide, Duncan in whispered tones, as a little man positively raced across Central Lobby, looking nothing like his television persona. 

We proceeded into the House of Common and stood on the government benches (not literally of course). “It’s so much smaller than I thought it would be” everybody seemed to be saying, and some of our group – mentioning no names – unable to resist the urge, actually sat on the green leather benches for a mili-second or deliberately brushed the despatch box, notwithstanding warnings that one should not do so under any circumstances.

In the House of Lords – oh so garish it made Jordon’s taste in wedding transport look classy and might have solicited praise from Gaudy himself – we watched Lord Owen, formerly Foreign Secretary David Owen in Jim Callaghan’s Labour Government – leap to his feet and tease out the flaws in the coalition governments Health and Social Care Bill.

We did the House of Commons Terrace thing - overlooking the River and the London Eye with glasses of Mulled Wine. “Disgusting” exhaled my wife after her first gulp.  Then it was inside for a hearty lunch and short speech by the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party who sat to my immediate left, but I suspect should really have been sitting far, far, far to the right of me.  No much, much further than you are imagining!

How strange it was then that come Saturday, I sat next to another Conservative MP in the Director’s Box at Priestfield where we saw Gillingham give Bristol Rovers a 4:1 drubbing - the afternoon spoiled only by me knowing that my beloved Charlton threw away a lead at the Valley not 50 miles away in South East London.

It was in the bar at Priestfield that my week was completed when yet another who once paced the corridors of power engaged in me conversation.  He lost his seat at the last election but now seems to be doing good in Kenya and such places.  Proof therefore - if proof were needed - that not all politicians are blood sucking parasites.