Oh what a day we had!
Actually, it was a full-on and pretty much non-stop 48 hours from the moment we arrived in London.
The Avanti West Coast whisked us to the big smoke in less than two hours from Warrington. On time, not overcrowded – even our reserved seats were empty and waiting for us. Perfect really.
On arrival at Euston, we battled through the crowds lugging our considerable paraphernalia – including Smithy’s personal overnight bag, thoughtfully packed with exactly two weeks of (his own) contingency and presented ourselves – somewhat dishevelled, at the London Underground ticket machine.
It didn’t go well. Actually, it might have been helpful had we selected English as the preferred language – but hey ho, we now have a better understanding of Gujarati I suppose…
Of course, we also made the usual tourist mistake by trying to pay by card using the cash slot in the machine, much to the annoyance and sound of huffs and puffs in the rapidly growing queue behind us.
Thankfully, we were able to retrieve the card…as we discovered very quickly, you certainly need your money in London!
But no time to dawdle, we had an important rendezvous with Esther McVey (MP for Tatton) in her private chambers at 2pm sharp.
Before becoming a politician, Esther graced our TV screens for over 10 years, from co-presenting GMTV with Eamonn Holmes, to Nothing But The Truth on Channel 4 with Anne Widdecombe.
Esther is an MP with a big personality and she warmly welcomed us with a wide smile, looking resplendent in her striking red dress and Doc Marten boots.
George Osborne called her “A One-Woman Northern Powerhouse” and she certainly lives up to this moniker.
Hard working for her constituents in Tatton, Esther speaks her own mind and doesn’t hold back. She was publicly critical of her party’s lockdown measures during the Covid-19 pandemic and broke the whip on several occasions to vote against further restrictions. Don’t get her started about HS2!
It was nice to chat with Esther – and as we said our goodbyes, we couldn’t help think that George Osborne was probably right…
A quick coffee and then a whirlwind tour of the Houses of Parliament. We must have covered 10,000 steps in the first part alone!
It truly is the most fascinating place. It actually makes you feel quite emotional.
Of course, the place is steeped in history – but really speaking, it’s a working and living museum making history every hour of every day.
Recently, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II lay in state in Westminster Hall and this is now marked with a permanent plaque at the very spot. Interestingly, the last person to lie in state there was Sir Winston Churchill.
It’s a place of business for sure – but it’s also a place for debate, agreements, disagreements, collaborative working and clandestine conversations.
But it’s also a place where friendships are made, regardless of the party you might represent.
There’s pomp and circumstance and age-old traditions in every nook and cranny. It’s exciting, mysterious and oh so traditional – a place which makes you feel proud to be British!
There are of course, separate areas for political persuasions (Conservatives and Labour have separate areas in the refreshment room, for example).
There are areas which can only be accessed by MP’s or peers who are former members – and not their staff.
There’s also the House of Commons – and the House of Lords, where we found ourselves in the Strangers’ Gallery.
Unfortunately, no pictures or audio from this section of the tour – but this is something everyone should experience at least one time in their life.
If you are interested in a tour, you can find out more at the official website.
Andy will be well-known to our listeners and to our community in general as he is often out and about; always a big supporter of local campaigns and events. He has been a tremendous supporter of Lymm Radio since day one.
Actually, he is a big supporter of radio in general. Prior to becoming an MP he was Managing Director of GMG Radio (Smooth / Real Radio) in the North West.
It is with our utmost gratitude that we thank Andy – and his team, Oliver and James – for making this special broadcast happen.
No matter your personal politics, you can’t help but have respect for Andy and the relentless work he has done and continues to do for us in South Warrington. He’s also involved in five or six parliamentary committees – including one of the seven who make up the Committee of Privileges – which is currently deciding the fate of Boris Johnson.
Of course, as someone who understands radio and enthusiastic radio presenters like us all too well – he wasn’t up for giving anything tasty away on this on-going story…but it is alway lovely to catch up with Andy in any case!
After a long day, it was time to check-in to the hotel, freshen up and head out to paint the town red (and blue!)
Sadly, the weather was against us. It was raining cats and dogs, so we took refuge in the nearest pub – the Red Lion and watched the world go by as we sipped our £6.90 pints of flat Peroni.
It’s a traditional London pub – a popular hang-out for Politicians and other super important-looking people sporting Aquascutum Suits and highly quaffed hair.
It’s a very agreeable place – and even has a working division bell, seeing as it is literally on the doorstep to the house.
That said, they haven’t quite grasped how to serve a pint of lager properly and last orders is a little earlier than you might expect. It must be a London thing.
A lovely night all told. I mean, who wouldn’t love a night out in London? That said, who would have thought that a £38 Steak is just that?
To be fair, there was some sort of green weed artistically draped over it – no doubt organic – but the chips were £7 extra.
On that basis, we decided it was probably cheaper to stay on the beer!
Alas, we weren’t destined to have a late night anyway. For tomorrow, it was to be an early 6am start as we were to broadcast live from Portcullis House.
It’s officially Cheshire Day, and a time to celebrate all things Cheshire!
During our two hour show, we chatted to several MP’s who look after our broadcast area. Andy Carter, Esther Mcvey and Mike Amesbury.
We also had Dr Kieran Millan (MP for Crewe & Nantwitch) and Charlotte Nichols (MP for Warrington North) lined up, but unfortunately, their daily duties got in the way.
However, we did have a special treat – a catch up with Chris Mason, the BBC’s Political Editor who gave us a really interesting insight into the world of politics.
But it was a true privilege to meet The Right Honourable Sir Lyndsay Hoyle MP – the Speaker of the House – in his private residence, just before his morning session.
Of course as Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay is a formidable character. Behind the scenes though, he’s an incredibly warm and likeable person – and an animal lover too! He has a Cat called Clement (Attlee), a Parrot called Boris (Johnson) and a Tortoise called Maggie (Thatcher). He has quite a sense of humour!
All too soon, our broadcast came to an end and it was time for a quick lunch before heading home.
There’s a few different refreshment facilities in Portcullis House; The Dispatch Box, The Debate and The Adjournment – amongst others. But today was Thursday and our host, Oliver (Andy Carter’s Secretray – who is a former student of Oughtrington Primary School) led us to the Stranger’s Cafeteria for the weekly special: Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas. Very good it was too!
You can listen again to the programme highlights right here.
Thank you once again to Andy Carter – his team, Oliver and James for making this happen.
Here is to Cheshire Day 2024!
Written by: ian