The last time I saw Parliament was in ‘V for Vendetta.’ Great flick, but needless to say, I much prefer this, whole Parliament. But on to the story . . . .
The year was 2004. I was in Philadelphia working on the ill-fated John Kerry campaign when I met a man from Scotland in American to witness our election fun. He was an elected official himself – on his local council back home. Flash-forward to 2006 and here I am in the UK on my way to London to take a tour of the Houses of Parliament – courtesy of my friend’s MP, who arranged the day for me.
There was a notation on my pass that said my group (that’d be me) was being accommodated with another MP’s group. And so it was that I joined up with a tour organized by Andrew Turner, the Member of Parliament representing the Isle of Wight. The craziest part: the rest of the party was from the Isle of Wight in Virginia – one of the original American colonies. It was my American in London with Americans day.
Sadly, photography is not allowed inside the Houses of Parliament – which sucks because the place is Gorgeous, of course. And for a complete government nerd like me, it’s the nerdy bits that I most wanted to capture in pixels. One highlight: there is a chamber decorated with paintings of the members of the Houses of Tudor and Stuart. Our tour guide ran through them all – who married which kid to what country, who beheaded and divorced whom, who reigned when and why – in such a rapid fire manner I managed to retain roughly .2%
I get chills walking the halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Walking through the ornate halls of the Houses of Commons and Lords gave me a similar thrill. If you’ve never done it, call your MP today and check it out. For his part, Mr. Turner was a wonderful host, greeting our group and sitting down with us (okay, them, I was just a fortunate, hanger-on) after the tour over tea and biscuits discussion British government and politics, comparing and contrasting the UK and US’s institutions. I won’t pretend to be literate, let-alone an expert on British politics, but he was such an open, knowledgeable man – and he voted against the war – that were I ever to move to the Isle of Wight, I do believe he’d have my vote.