How long will it take Ken to clear his desk?Posted by Ellee on Mar 6, 2008 in updates | 14 comments
Today was one of those days that just got better and better. I was told at an early morning meeting that my PR work with NIAB was to be put on a permanent basis, something I am thrilled about.
This meeting was brought forward so I could meet up with Boris Johnson and a group of political bloggers for lunch in a London restaurant. I felt extremely privileged to be asked.
On the train from Cambridge, I met my former Cambridge Evening News Editor Bob Satchwell, now executive director of the Society of Editors- "Captain Bob" – as he was affectionately known then – who chided me for not writing more about him on my blog, something I did after last meeting him on a train on my way home from 18 Doughty Street. He was on his way to London to help pick the shortlist for the British Press Awards. We hope to meet up for lunch one day.
I smiled knowingly to myself on the train as I spotted a fellow passenger reading an FT story about Boris’s predicted victory as London’s next mayor, reporting that William Hill, the bookmaker, who until Tuesday had been offering identical odds between him and Ken, had now made Boris the favourite.
So I was feeling on cloud nine when I arrived at my venue, though I was the last to arrive thanks to British Rail delays and tube difficulties too, including having to walk down a broken escalator in my killer heels!
Boris was in buoyant mood, he sat at both tables and mingled with us all. I was able to ask him three questions on behalf of Courtney Hamilton; in response to the first one, Boris confirmed that he would support a new desalination plant for London to turn salt water into drinking water.
Courtney wanted to know if Boris would support building a new airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary to relieve Heathrows’s congestion. Again, Boris said he would be in support of this and seriously consider it.
Regarding future congestion charges, which was Courtney’s third question, his policy is not to bring in the extra £25 charge which he feels is too high for families on moderate incomes. The original charge will not be abolished.
His key policies include providing affordable housing, improving public transport (including reducing the numbers of fare dodgers), as well as tackling crime to make people feel safe on the streets, he wants to reduce youth crime and disorder.
I was the only female blogger there and other guests included Iain Dale, Croydonian, Dizzy, Burning Our Money, Dave Hill, Phil Taylor, Sam Coates, Shane Greer, Jonanathan Shephard and James Cleverly. I hope I haven’t left anyone out, apologies if I have.
Poor Boris, he didn’t even get a chance to eat his lunch, he was so busy answering our questions before dashing off to his next appointment.
I would like to see Boris tour the boroughs of London in an open top blue bus for maximum impact, to be a visible campaigning force, as well as facing his rivals head-on in a Newsnight grilling.
Funny story: My husband has reserved tickets, but not yet paid for them, for a very special jazz night at Burnham Market on Saturday which has been oversubscribed. The organiser called my husband today (who knows nothing about who we are going to see, but I know they are world class acts and he is coming along to please me). The organiser said local people were upset that no tickets were left for them and he had no choice but to offer them our tickets. My husband said: "I know nothing about this, my wife is having lunch with Boris Johnson right now, she’s the one who has organised this." A long silence then followed after which the organiser said: "Ok, leave it with me, I will see what I can do, this is very difficult. How does she know Boris? Is she really having lunch with him? I am into politics too". We will know tomorrow if we have tickets for Saturday. I don’t think I will lose any sleep over this.
*I shared my rail journey home with a party of 50 primary school children from Brancaster, a favourite annual holiday destination in North Norfolk, and close to Burnham Market. They had been visiting the capital city for a tour of London. For many of them it was their first trip there, it was their first time on the underground, the London Eye, in Regent’s Park, along the River Thames and to glimpse Buckingham Palace. It was so lovely to hear their excited chatter and I felt that the grumpy adults who just wanted to travel in peace and quiet should have tried to imagine the special day these young kids had just experienced.
Good luck Boris!!!
Update Sunday, 9 March: We managed to get our much coveted jazz tickets and I can see why they were in so much demand. Not only were the musicians superb, but the venue in Burnham Oovery Staithe was truly extraordinary – a normal looking flint house from the outside, but like a tardis from the insider, opening up into cave like proportions. The lounge has been converted into a theatre with tiered seating which are raised specially for performances, and then sink below floor level so the domed ceiling room can covert to normal living accommodation afterwards. Thank you Reg, you did everyone proud, it was a wonderful evening. Thank you for coming up trumps with the tickets.