Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

'Do you know. . . ?' said the Tory MP I was sitting next to, as he tried to introduce me to the transport secretary. But the transport secretary didn't even wait until the Tory MP said my name. The transport secretary starts turning a funny colour whenever he sees me.

On this occasion he hurried past saying, 'Ah ha ha yes ha ha ah, erm. . . ' Before he got past, I grabbed his hand and shook it.

I suppose I wanted to assure him that the small matter of him putting a high speed railway past my parents' back garden needn't necessarily mean he has to run across the Savoy ballroom. Or look like he wished a tunnel would open up and swallow him. A tunnel, perhaps, like the one they are going to build in the Chilterns to protect all the rich people's properties from HS2.

'How about a bit of tunnelling in the Midlands?'

I sometimes say when I meet the transport secretary, just to be jolly about things. Other times I say, 'Please, I beg of you, you must compensate the little people whose homes are now worthless. You can't just decimate their only asset and dismiss them as Nimbys when they ask for help.'

And he says, 'Ah ha ha yes ha ha ah, erm' I can totally see it from his point of view.

I wish I didn't have to harass the transport secretary at social events.

I really do.

I don't want to become known as the girl who makes Patrick McLoughlin run across the Savoy ballroom.

I don't think that can be a thing to be proud of. Also, I get the distinct impression he is not the only politician who would gladly do major tunnelling works with their bare hands in order to avoid me.

For example, after I scared Mr McLoughlin - again - I was sipping my after-dinner coffee trying to behave myself when a very nice friendly female Tory MP, who was sitting at my table, swapped places with the man on my left in order to strike up a conversation with me. She told me she liked something I had written, and we got chatting. But my head was still stuck in the whole 'high speed railway going past my parents' back garden and no compensation' horror.

I was all over the place. I did the nightmare thing of not quite listening to the very first thing she said, which meant I was playing catch-up for the entire conversation. …

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