Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Spontaneity, Prime Numbers And Filibustering. Not In That Order.

Honestly, sometimes Lords of the Realm get a bit above themselves. Talk about trying to make MPs' staff feel completely worthless!

Apparently we're all supposed to be invisible now, as well as underpaid and unappreciated. Not to mention being expected to donate our lunches to any passing MP, at least one of whom is quite patently suffering from a bad case of worms.

Greg's no more amused by the whole thing than I am.

"Did Carlotta text you about what Lord Howard said in the Lords?" he says, as soon as he arrives at work this morning. "She woke me up in the middle of the night."

"Yes, me too," I say. "I couldn't believe it. What a stupid man he is - unless he was talking in his sleep, of course."

"What on earth are you two talking about?" says Vicky. "Asleep? In the House of Lords? That's what peers normally do, isn't it?"

"Yes, but not in beds with duvets," I say. "Last night they were basically filibustering the Voting System Bill. They even resorted to discussing prime numbers at one point, or so Carlotta said."

For someone who claims to be interested in politics, rather than in just flirting with susceptible backbench MPs, Vicky's awfully badly-informed sometimes.

"What's filibustering?" she says. For God's sake, where does The Boss find these people?

Anyway, once I've explained, Vicky still looks none the wiser but, to her credit, returns to the really important point:

"So what did Lord Howard say about MPs' staff that annoyed you two so much?"

"He said - and I quote - that constituents will be upset if they think that MPs' staff are dealing with their concerns," I say.

"Seems the concept of voters wanting to be told the truth hasn't quite filtered through to everyone yet," says Greg. "Unless MPs are just worried about being had up under the Trades Descriptions Act. Maybe we should re-think using Andrew's auto-signature on 'his' letters, even though it'd be obvious to anyone but a muppet that it's only printed."

I'm not sure about that, actually. Constituents aren't half as aware of how MPs' offices work as we sometimes think they are. Even perfectly sensible ones seem to think that it really is their MP who handles their cases and that we caseworkers just take notes and then pass the information along. To the intellectual giants for whom we work.

It's probably part of the same syndrome as constituents' equally unshakeable belief - which they somehow sustain even while their television screens are showing live coverage of their MP sitting in the Commons Chamber during PMQs - that he or she is in their constituency seven days a bloody week.

"Too right," says Greg, when I mention it to him. "How many of the local tuition fees protests have been held on Thursdays when the House is sitting, for God's sake? You'd think university students could work out that it's only the poor old downtrodden staff that are stuck in the constituency offices mid-week."

Exactly. Poor old us - manning the barricades and not even recognised for our contribution. I can almost hear the violins. Unless Igor's outside with his balalaika.

"We have to know our place," says Greg, and goes out to buy extra chocolate, while I decide to cheer myself up by emailing Johnny. This doesn't make me feel any less downtrodden as, as soon as I tell him all about Max's mysterious fuel purchase, he's not impressed by my intelligence either.

"You're an idiot, Molly," he says. Admittedly affectionately, as far as I can tell, but even so...

"I am not," I say. "Max did have what could have been an innocent explanation."

"Your husband is clearly having an affair with that nymphomaniac, and you know it. Which makes your reluctance to take things further with me a bit ridiculous, don't you think? "

I don't think hitting a woman when she's down is very gentlemanly, but I don't say so. And I can't deny that Johnny has got a point.

I should face facts, accept that Max is definitely cheating, and get my own back, instead of always believing daft excuses about visits to Mrs Bloom - who just happens to live near Stalborough. Or so Max claimed when I confronted him late last night.

"I'm flying in to the UK next Wednesday," says Johnny. "So let's meet up again. We've been messing about for months, and I'm losing patience. Not to mention my sanity. You can't expect a man to live on emails and out-of-focus photographs for ever, however crazy about you I am."

God, I'm such a sucker for a compliment these days. Probably due to never getting any credit for anything I do - for which thanks, Lord Howard. I blame him for what happens next, which is that I decide that my life is sadly lacking in spontaneity, as well as acts of revenge.

"Okay, then," I say. "Let's do it."

As soon as I've pressed send, my stomach starts churning, and I want to get the email back. Why can't someone hurry up and invent a computer programme for that? It would save no end of people's bacon, not least that of MPs and inexperienced staff. Not that there's much chance of it happening any time soon - not now that Steve Jobs is on medical leave again.

So, after confirming that the offending email really is showing in my sent mail, and hasn't unaccountably but fortuitously hidden itself in my drafts folder instead, I sit and re-read it. My stomach feels a bit funny, and I really don't think I should clench my teeth like that.

"Argh, argh, argh," I say, as I re-read it for a second time. The noise may have been rather louder than I intended.

"What's up?" says Greg, appearing in the doorway. "And why the hell are you pulling that agonised face?"

I can't answer as by now I'm in literal as well as psychological pain. Can you crack a back tooth just by grimacing at your own stupidity?

"What's wrong with her?" says Vicky. As if I'm not even present. She'd make a good assistant to Lord Howard, now I come to think of it.

"Mol's doing the constituency office version of filbustering," says Greg. "Stress-related filling-busting."

Ha, ha, bloody ha. I'd hit back with a crushing rejoinder if I could bear to move my jaw.


  1. It's already possible to get back sent emails on some services... sort of.


    Google are working on making it available through gmail too :-)

  2. Wow! Thanks very much. Though I'm still looking forward to Steve Jobs taking up my idea of iOops once he's better ;-)