Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A night in Parliament

I had a list of things to do today as long as my arm, and woke up fairly early to set about ticking things off. I like to create lists. They somehow make the impossible seem manageable.

I had an osteopath appointment at 2pm which turned into a reunion of osteopaths who'd previously dealt with me at the London School of Osteopathy. Quite why they were all there in the room with me, I'm not sure, but it was certainly very nice to catch up with them again.

This evening we went to the Houses of Parliament to meet our local MP, Lynne Featherstone.

On the tube on the way there, a bloke sat next to us, practising illusions with a floating crystal ball. You know the sort of thing... With careful handling you can make a clear glass ball look as though it's floating around in mid air. Done well, it's really quite mesmerising - and this guy was doing it really well. He was in a sort of trance, listening to music on headphones, but his presence made me feel really happy for some reason. It was quite wonderful when a group of children got on the tube. I genuinely think they thought he was magic, and watched him with mouths and eyes wide open.

Lynne invited us to have dinner with her as a thank you for inviting her to our wedding. It was a wonderful opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Houses of Parliament which is packed with personal memories, not just from the time that I was the partner of the MP Stephen Twigg, but also from the days when I used to run educational tours within the building. That was back in 1997 when security was taken considerably less seriously. Just getting into the building these days involves walking down long steel ramps, and heading through all sorts of security barriers.

Lynne met us in Central Lobby and took us to the Pugin room for drinks. We sat in an enormous bay window over-looking the Thames, staring at the most exquisitely carved stonework.

As a wedding present we were presented with a copy of the actual Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which Lynne had been largely responsible for bringing through parliament. It is the most wonderful gift, which we shall treasure forever. Only a very limited number of books were printed and I'm told they're already selling on eBay for £500. Not that we'd ever sell it.

Lynne vanished for half an hour - summonsed to a meeting with Nick Clegg - and returned telling us he'd sent his regards to us both.

We had a beautiful dinner in a very fancy dining room where the triple-cooked hand-cut chips were like little nuggets of gold, and the raspberry sponge with coconut tasted better than any pudding I've had this year!

Lynne is a wonderful woman whom I feel terribly proud to have as our constituency MP. She's something of a rebel, a self-confessed insurgent within parliament who takes on big issues - and always seems to win. She is currently doing great work in the fight against female genital mutilation and amazing things for disability rights around the globe.

We ended the night on the famous terrace over-looking the ink-black Thames, the London Eye and Westminster Bridge glowing in the clear sky to our left and the huge sand stone panels of the Palace of Westminster flood lit behind us.

The bar man who served us at the Stranger's Bar, asked to shake our hands. He's seen the wedding on television and wanted us to know how moved he'd been by it. He then shook Lynne's hand and thanked her for her work.

"Isn't it strange and wonderful?" I said to Lynne, "that, in future years, when they write about the birth of gay marriage in the UK, all three of our names will be mentioned..."

Then I felt proud. Then I felt a bit moist-eyed. Then I felt incredibly grateful to Lynne for instigating and being the architect of the Same Sex Marriage bill. A truly wonderful evening.

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