My bathing costume

I pass Simon Hughes on route from one part of Commons to another – and as he passes he turns and says ‘loved your review’! As he had a wicked grin on his face and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about – I asked my Head of Office, Andrew, to find out.

It turned out to be a column by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail writing about Parliament yesterday. I quote:

“A less generous eye might have fallen on the blinking figure of Charles Clarke, stretched so hard at the Home Office in recent days.

“It might hover, too, over the currently reduced form of Charles Kennedy – not to mention the outfit of a glamorous new Lib Dem MP called Lynne Featherstone, who was wearing an outfit that resembled a bathing costume.

“For spectacle Miss Featherstone’s top was matched only by an extraordinary, glowing object halfway down the Government front bench. This turned out to be the sunburnt bald head of John Reid, Defence Secretary.”

I desperately try to think about the decency of my attire the previous day. I was pretty sure that, although I didn’t wear my usual combination of dark trouser suit with jacket and white T-shirt, I hadn’t entirely lost the plot and worn a swimsuit. I had indeed, although unusually, worn a dress – it was a sweltering day. But to me – it was my formal summer dress (grey and discreet) – and although it has no sleeves and is not high cut at the neck, it is virtually knee length and very respectable. I remember wearing it with its matching coat to meet the Queen when she opened City Hall.

When I was young, I used to get upset at such comments – or indeed – wolf whistles as I walked past building sites. Now at my advanced age – I am simply grateful. Thank you Quentin – I say!

I stick around for the Tory Opposition Debates in the afternoon and evening – but there is an ‘incident’. On the information screens around Parliament, moving text along the bottom informs us that entrance to the Commons is barred to all for the time being because of an ‘incident ongoing’.

David Heath whispers to me in the chamber that the story doing the rounds is the police are chasing a suspected bomber along the South Bank – no idea if that was the case. My pager goes saying because of the incident there are no votes tonight – so I go home around 9pm. I get home around 9.50pm at which point my pager goes again informing me that votes are expected at 10pm. Well – I can’t get back quite that quick! Next day Whips apologise for the cock-up.