How to bump into buskers, tourists and music-loving MPs

What is it like to work in a national monument that is currently being refurbished?

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Sunday 25 November 2018 16:14

What is it like to work at the House of Commons? Well, it has its moments. The building is decrepit and the clock tower is currently covered in scaffolding and screens, with nets like awnings sticking out of it, presumably to catch anything that falls off. It looks a bit like a Japanese pagoda, which is ironic because the other day a Japanese tourist stopped me in Parliament Square to ask, “Excuse me, please where is the Big Ben?”

From the look on her face, I think she already knew the answer, before I turned to point at the shrouded shape and apologised on behalf of the nation for her disappointment after a 6,000-mile journey.

Usually I arrive by the Underground, which means being patient with tourists who don’t realise that half the gates on one side are for “in” and the other half for “out”. Then you go past the busker on the steel drums, who is either doing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. At this point you might as well take your headphones out.

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