Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Queens Speech

Security around the State Opening of Parliament gets tighter this year and this morning it was particularly frustrating when the 24 bus was put on divert - meaning I had to lug a heavy bag some distance. Was amazed to find that there were still some reasonable seats available when I went along to reserve my seat for later in the day.

At 11.25 we assembled for prayers (and to confirm our reserved seats) and awaited the summons from Black Rod. On these occasions Dennis Skinner always has something to say and this year was no exception. As Black Rod prepared to exit from the Chamber Skinner's growled comment was "Has she brought Camilla along?" Not particularly funny but we all laughed because that has become part of the tradition too.

There is then a slightly unseemly scramble for position as we troop along to the House of Lords and I was reasonably well placed this year and managed to beat the crowd of MPs who try and cut in. This meant I had an exceptional view of the proceedings in the House of Lords. It is always a spectacular sight but this year I had the benefit of standing next to John Thurso who has the unusual distinction of once having had a place in the House of Lords. I had always wondered about the dress code for wives (a bit OTT and lots of diamonds) and e informed me that it was "full evening dress" he helpfully added "so they should all be wearing tiaras"


The Speech itself rarely holds any surprises so, I hate to admit it, that ones attention wanders slightly. I found myself contemplating the dress code for husbands of baronesses (I didn't spot any) and wondering why Baroness Amos was standing throughout the proceedings holding what looked like an "ecky thump" hat on a stick. But when push comes to shove it is all pretty wonderful and something worth keeping.

After the speech I found myslef returning to the Commons alongside Don Foster, Susan Kramer and Jo Swinson (youngest MP). Tiaras dominated the conversation. Susan Kramer commented that she "now understood jewels" and I helpfully imparted my newly learnt information about the dress code and tiaras. Jo Swinson commented "Oh, I though it was just a bit of a trend". Don Foster pretended to explode with mock indignation pointing out that Westminster doesn't "do" "a bit of a trend"