Celebrity Spotting Part 3

April 30, 2008 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

My business meeting in London finished early yesterday. This came as a relief because I was concerned that I would, otherwise, have spent most of the night trying to get my car unclamped.

You see, in order to save money my company insists that we book train tickets in advance. An open first class return ticket from Crewe to Euston costs nearly £300 but if you book in advance and are prepared to travel off-peak you can get tickets for a half decent price.

Yesterday I was travelling both ways for a total of £90 but only if I travelled out on the 09.53 and returned on the 19.46. But, when I got to the car park at Crewe station it was full. Damn. Parking is rare at Crewe and I didn’t want to take the chance that other regular commuters seem to do and park at B&Q. I suppose I could have parked near Crewe Alexander’s stadium but was a) not sure there wasn’t a game on that night and b) was not sure I had time to get there, park and walk back to the station in time to catch my train.

My only option was to use one of the pay and displays around the corner. I had no option. Imagine my concern when I noticed that my maximum stay was 10 hours with a fine of £70 to be paid for infringing this. But, if I was to continue with my planned schedule I would be parked there for at least 12 hours. But, I had no option.

So it was a huge relief when we finished two hours ahead of schedule and my boss agreed that I could buy a new ticket to get home. £147!!!! How on earth can they justify these prices?

£147 bought me a seat in first class, complimentary cups of tea, a couple of red wines, a hot meal, cheese and biscuits and the Evening Standard. And, I found myself sat next to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith and her entourage. If you see red tickets where the normal reserved labels go it must mean reserved for VIPs.

I was sat next to the window in the single seating. Jacqui sat next to me with a vacant seat between us at the group of four, together with a couple of aids. Her minders (three) sat behind her and surprisingly paid little attention to me. I was amazed at the seeming lack of security. Now, I know I don’t look like your average Taliban fighter or shoe bomber but I could  have been, well anyone. The rest of the carriage was surprisingly empty, so, they could even have asked me to move.

I am sure that most people would have walked past Jacqui and her gang without a second glance. She was discreet and certainly wasn’t trying to draw any attention to herself. She was quietly spoken, polite and jovial with the Virgin staff and her colleagues, and not showing any of that cleavage which got her into so much trouble at the beginning of her stint as Home Secretary. Indeed, she was a bit drab and close up she looked a little plumper than I had thought and her double chin is definitely giving birth to a third.

So, the journey was great for people watching and listening in to private conversations. Jacqui ate the trout and skipped dessert in favour of a chocolate cluster; she drank two G&Ts (full fat tonic, ice and lemon) but refused a third; and, spent the whole journey as far as Crewe (apparently she was en route to Blackpool) working on a speech in PowerPoint on her laptop.gin

She had a battered old mobile with a cracked screen which she used only twice – once to phone her dad to remind him to watch the Party Election Broadcast on the BBC at 18.55 (he had to take his hearing aid out to hear her properly) and once when she seemed to be chatting to a child and confirming that the choice of broccoli and courgettes was very good indeed.

spyThere was very little interaction with her colleagues. She sat opposite an older woman who did nothing but read newspapers. At one point they exchanged a joke over the story in the Evening Standard of Kate Hoey joining Boris’ team in the event of him becoming Mayor of London. There was a young twenty something (but looked about twelve) lad who was smartly and trendily dressed. He helped her with her cables and saving her presentation but otherwise played on his PSP (PlayStation Portable) and read his book – The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carre. I thought that was kind of fitting for the department responsible for anti-terrorism and home security.

Not quite up there with Pete Waterman and my sexual encounter with Sarah Lancashire but still a pleasant way of passing the time.

And, my car wasn’t clamped after all and I was home in time to see Paul Scholes’ goal against Barca!!

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Entry filed under: Celebrities, Politics, travel. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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