No 10, Nick Robinson and the Mongolian ambassador

Who do you think was waiting for us when we arrived at No 10 image yesterday Downing Street 012with our post office petition? None other than the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, I wonder who gave him the tip off about our visit.

He was very charming and said he remembered me being on the Andrew Marr Sunday AM programme along with himself and other political bloggers (not sure I believe this) and happily posed for this photo with Julian Sturdy and constituency supporters Joe and Bill. Nick handed my camera to a photographer from The Observer who took this pic.

The actual presentation of the petition was over in a blink. Julian knocked on the door, a policeman opened it and took Julian’s file. There was no cup of tea on offer, that was it.

Shaun Woodward, Tory defector and Northern Ireland Secretary, and Douglas Alexander, International Development Secretary, walked out of No 10 as this was happening and nearly ruined my photo of Julian handing over his petition.

We then headed to nearby Portcullis House where MPs have their offices, and were escorted in by Labour MP John Grogan to save us waiting outside for our next appointment with Charles Hendry, Shadow Minister for Energy, Industry and Postal affairs. John had been photographed outside No 10 with Julian by the York Press for their own post office protest petition which they presented after ours.

Portcullis House is a place where you have to act cool when you see ministers and top politicians walking along the corridors and eating in the cafe. But I do love the buzz of the place, I always find it thrilling, and you never know who you are going to bump into.

Who would have imagined that I would have been chatting to the Mongolian Ambassador Dalrain Davaasambuu (pic) who was meeting with John Grogan as chair of the all party parliamentary Mongolian group, explaining to him about post office closures.

The parliamentary group is hosting a business promotional event for Mongolia next Monday and one of John’s tasks is to ensure that Mongolian vodka, their national drink, will not prove to be fatal for MPs. He told me there had been 12 recent deaths in Mongolia from contaminated vodka, he could not risk that happening here! Will there be an official taster on hand, I wonder.

We then went into the House to listen to a debate on human trafficking, a subject close to my heart as you know, which would have been the perfect end to the perfect day, except for my nightmare journey home thanks to signal failures at King’s Cross when every train in and out of the station was cancelled.

Update 18 January: My story about Mongolia’s deadly vodka makes the Hugo Rifkind People column in today’s Times.


  1. Joe, Thanks for the update. At the time I knew it would make a good story if you had been admitted to No 10 simply by showing your Matalan card as ID, but from memory, you walked in behind me, you being the gentleman you are insisting that I go in front, and security then waved you through after you had completed the electronic security checks without you having to show any ID, and you told them all you had with you was your Matalan card as you had forgotten your passport.

    The fact is, those policemen on duty were so lovely, do you remember the one outside No 10 who let us stay there for ages? I would hate any of them to get into trouble for this.

    I went to London again today and all was fine, the carriages were just dirty and grubby as usual.

    How is Tinker?

  2. Joe Tidmarsh

    Ellee, this story has amanated from a “throw away” comment to the reporters of the York Press, and like any perceived good story the press have jumped on it and attempted to connect it to security at Downing Street in particular and to the requirmement for ID Cards in general. A good description would be a “snowballing effect” The Guardian said, “We spend so much time worrying about the costs and implications of the ID card schedme. But if we can all get them cheap from Matalan and the authorities are happy, where’s the problem?” Tongue in cheek the press have been shown to be rather gullible. On Nick Robinson, may I say,a lovely gentleman and so approachable. I thanked him for his unbiased and balanced political reporting. Yes, London was a very fruitful day and was only marred by the major signals failure at Kings Cross – we arrived back in York at approximately 0045 – not bad for having booked seats on the 7pm train!!

  3. Joe, it is lovely to hear from you. So we both got different stories in the national press from this visit, what fun. I hope Matalan will show you their appreciation, though I have not been offered any Mongolian vodka.

    Did you actually show your card, btw? I thought their security said it was not necessary to show any ID, they did not want to look at my passport and I had not been pre-booked like you, though I know you forgot your passport and joked about your Matalan card, it was very amusing.

  4. Joe Tidmarsh

    Ellee, lovely to have met you for the Downing Street trip. Since my entry to No 10 was with a Matalan card my phone has been buzzing. A Researcher by the name of Beccy contacted me from the Richard & Judy show. The Guardian published the story on Tuesday 22 January (without contacting me). The Yorkshire Post contacted me wishing to print a story but I declined. Obviously fame and fortune lies ahead for me and I wonder if Matalan will be seeking to offer me some exalted position on their marketing staff?

  5. Louise, I will take your word for it. I wonder what it is made from. 😉

  6. (Proper) Mongolian vodka, shared from a Mongolian drinking cup, is the best vodka I’ve ever tasted….

  7. Q9, high circles? Yes in some ways, but they are only human beings too, you need to keep grounded. It certainly was an exciting day, except for the horrific train journey home.

  8. so, was that before Gordon left for China?
    Or is that the reason why Gordon Brown left for China – lol

  9. Hey Magic Lady,
    moving in high circles?

  10. Sums up the sorry state of affairs here: no POs and no trains…Why do we have to stand for this c..p? And…you’re not even offered any courtesy when you go to complain!

  11. Ellee: You lead such an interesting life and have passion for good causes!

  12. Looking lovely, Ellee.

    No cup of tea. How heartless – you’d be sure to get Earl Grey, best china and Jammy Dodgers chez E-K 😉

  13. Nice pic and it does sound like you had an interesting day [apart from the train journey]. What a miserly lot they are at no 10, not offering you a cup of tea!


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