4 10 2010

My desire to do everything touristy in London today brought me to The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. The reason I had not yet been here is that I loathe the area of Covent Garden so much but, trying to walk off a hangover, I stumbled into the square. It cost £6 for a student (normally £10) and my first impression, having bought my ticket and left a bag in the cloakroom, was of how friendly the staff are.

The museum is designed over three floors and, starting at the top you work your way down in a chronological tour of transporting in our wonderful capital. Having exited the elevator at the top I found myself confronted by trams from the 1800s presented “in action” with life size wax models to give one a taste of what it felt to have these horse drawn carriages trundling through the streets.

The information is presented in easy to digest pictures, audio and texts; there is also a large amount of interactive displays designed for children but also quite entertaining to a 31 year-old man. The place is immediately engaging and very open, you are encouraged to go into the old carriages, sit down, try and get a feel for it. Though there is a recommended route to follow, it is very much a space for wandering. If you live in London this museum makes you want to find out more about your local line or station.

There are no airs or graces; it’s not like a trip to The National Gallery or The British Museum where you must only enter if you’re terrifically aloof and terribly intellectual. The Transport Museum’s main concern for their visitor is that they enjoy their visit and you will enjoy your visit and learn quite a lot without realising it. For example how much horse poo had to cleaned of the streets back in the early days.

The highlight must be the very well thought out exhibit concerning the Blitz. Not only does it deal with London but also Coventry and Dresden. There is a book where visitors are asked to write their thoughts on that period and some of the stories people have written  in are humbling. This is the last exhibit before reaching the ground floor which is a fantastic menagerie of old and new, try your hand at being a tube driver or wander through the fleet of old and new buses and carriages.

This is a fantastic place to visit, well worth the money (even if you pay full whack) and I shall recommend it to any and all.

P.s. their toilets are also very clean.


5 05 2010

We started with a question regarding Cameron’s impression of Clegg. Hague was quick to claim victory for the Tories and slag Brown about his lack of agreeing with Nick. Campbell loved having his boss in the limelight and spoke of how the media have ignored him but all the Lib Dems knew he was great for years. Ann Leslie, even though she is a Tory voter, did stick the boot into Cameron and had a bit of a go at Clegg for being a bit of a nobody then praised Brown for managing to remain standing. The Welsh lad said they were all just the same person, agreeing about pensions, the Pope’s visit, Afghanistan and the expenses scandal. Yvette cooper took on a strong pro-Europe stance, funny that it was Cameron’s weak point.

Anyhow a question was asked by a gentleman called Otto who I had got talking to outside and I knew what he was going to ask, I was determined to be heard. “Following the stories of donations going straight into Nick Clegg’s bank accounts, are the Lib Dems really any different to any of the other parties?”

This gave Hague another chance to go for the jugular, claiming Clegg had no right to carry on his holier than thou attitude. Campbell defended it (weakly) saying the donor hadn’t been given a peerage, but the money is now spent and that Clegg did give copies of his accounts to the House of Commons authorities.

Look at the screen while this point is been made and you see me, hand aloft itching to get stuck in. Then at 24mins and 55secs in my big television debut. I decide to compliment Gordon Brown on his performance in the debate before asking why he talks about cleaning up politics while still putting up candidates who were caught up in the expenses scandal.

Yvette Cooper was given the opportunity to reply and I was so excited about having just been on telly I forgot to listen. When she finished talking there was a round of applause which, instinctively, I joined in on. Having since watched it back I realise she just avoided my question and I should have really stood up and shouted at her.

The next topic was: Will a hung parliament be damaging to the UK? Campbell straight off with a no and saying Ken Clarke shouldn’t be saying such. Hague tried to counter this but Campbell kicked his arse. He did raise a couple of sniggers but his judo skills didn’t help in this verbal affray.

A great comment from the audience followed when discussing economic recovery that taking money from small business’ and giving it to the state was such a waste we may as well burn it (how dare this man try to upstage me on my big night).

Leslie was complaining that her vote didn’t count where she lived because it was such a strong Labour seat; Sir Menzies was quick to point out that if it wasn’t a first past the post system this wouldn’t happen. Cooper very nearly stumbled but caught herself in time before uttering when Gordon was elected Prime Minister (that never happened Yvette hee hee).

So who won well in this order:

1-Sir Menzies Campbell

2-That fellow from Wales

3-Hague and Cooper drawing

5-The frightful right-wing hack.


24 04 2010

In my capacity as your guide through the madness that is the election campaign I put myself on the front line for you all, jumped on the grenade by agreeing to be in the same room as William Hague, and attended Question Time in Greenwich.

QT Sudio

I was required to get there at 18:00 to watch the leaders debate before hand, this didn’t start until 20:00 so I stuffed myself with BBC cheese and pickle sandwiches for two hours. Then into the studio with approx 150-200 others to watch round 2 of the debates on Sky.

The biggest laugh of the evening from the crowd went to David Cameron’s outstanding impression of Nick Clegg (Rory Bremner recently complained about how difficult it was to do an impression of Clegg, maybe he should go round to Tory HQ for lessons). Brown got a great dig in early comparing the other two to his children arguing at bath time. Cameron then got beaten up by Clegg on the question of Europe; he couldn’t defend accusations that he was siding with the far right parties in Brussels. He did have his moment to shine when he accused Brown and Labour of lying in their election leaflets when claiming the Tories were going to make basic cuts to the NHS.  The last laugh of the evening went to Clegg, when discussing deporting illegal immigrants he said the government can’t deport them if they don’t know where they come from.


Happily I was spared the usual nonsense of all the parties claiming they won the debate, I had to rehearse for my appearance on national television. And that’s what we did for the next hour and a half. Mock panelists asked mock questions by an audience getting all giddy at the thought of being on television.

Then the man himself appeared, David Dimbelby, he took a quick audience poll to see who won the debate and the majority went with Clegg. Sir Menzies Campbell could be spotted in the wings giving a thumbs up, to join him on the panel were Yvette Cooper, the work and pension secretary, Elfyn Llwyd, Welsh fellow if you hadn’t guessed already, leader of Plaid Cymru, Dame Ann Leslie, former journalist for The Daily Mail and William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, who is surprisingly tall and, as we were to learn before going on air, practices judo.

Then it was lights, camera……

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