Saturday, 11 July 2009

We must rain in leaks

THERE have been a lot of leaks in Parliament this week, but they were nothing to do with sensitive information. No, this week’s leaks were the good old-fashioned watery kind, through the roof. My office is in Portcullis House. It’s Parliament’s newest building. When it was constructed the designers tried to make the inside seem so natural it would feel like being outdoors. Well, it really did feel that way when, during a meeting I was having in the building, it started raining INSIDE. MPs and staff dodged water as it came in all over the place. Dustbins were commandeered to catch the torrent and stop them messing up the carpets Strangely enough, one of the only roofs that didn’t leak was in Westminster Hall. That’s the oldest part of Parliament and was built right back in 1097 by William the Conqueror’s son. I’m not really sure how that happened. Portcullis House is not even 10 years old and it started to fill up like the Titanic. Meanwhile, Westminster Hall is over 900 years old and was as dry as Henry VIII’s bones. If things carry on like this, they might as well dump a thousand tons of sand on the floor, replace the staircase with a diving board and swap the Speaker for a lifeguard. Parliament? Baywatch for ugly people.
WITH the recession really biting, jobs are few and far between –– but in these dodgy times, Job Centre Plus is going the extra mile and branching out. This week it was advertising the position of Adult TV Channel Presenter –– a saucy job which involves posing in the buff three nights a week and bringing home a cosy £220 a shift. Not bad. Lots of free time, over 30 grand a year and the chance to make many new friends. Some citizens got wound up by this and claimed government-funded job centres shouldn’t be promoting such “naughty” careers. But the Department for Work and Pensions put its foot down, saying “a job is a job.” As long as it’s legal, Job Centres have to advertise it. So there you have it –– our own government reckons that a bit of nudity could help boost employment and bust the recession. And once again, the Daily Sport has led the way by providing employment to a whole army of potential applicants like super stunna Gemma Massey. The economy might look bleak, but the she never will.
TODAY Barack Obama lands in Africa for the first time since becoming US President. He’ll be talking about the big issues affecting the continent, including conflict, poverty and piracy so he’ll have his work cut out. Obama’s got African roots himself. He’ll be trying his hardest to help get things sorted. That’s great news. Although change needs to come from inside Africa, the international community also has a big part to play. All too often we chuck in a fiver for Comic Relief then go back to worrying because the Sky Plus isn’t working or that Dominos put too much pepperoni on the pizza. Meanwhile, thousands of people are starving and dying of easily treatable diseases. Africa’s got a lot to offer. People think about movies like Hotel Rwanda and Black Hawk Down but forget about the brilliant cultures and beautiful wildlife beyond the troubles. If Obama can help sort out some of the big problems, Africa might have a brighter future. I wish him the best of luck on his mission. It’s gonna be a hard job and a long slog but if anyone is up to it, Obama’s the man.
WHATis it with Parliament trying to keep out the young? First a group of stroppy MPs tried to stop the UK Youth Parliament using our chamber. Now the Commons authorities are trying to stop Cubs and Scouts from visiting. It all kicked off because water companies are about to start charging massive bills for drainage on campsites. This would bankrupt Scout groups and mean a massive loss for our youth. So Cubs and Scouts planned to come over to Parliament and have an argy-bargy with their MPs. But the powers-that-be decided that because they are too young to vote they shouldn’t be allowed in. And they politely told them to shove off. That’s pretty weird logic –– it’s not as if they’d be lighting campfires or anything. Luckily, Julian Brazier MP, Stephen Pound MP and Martin Salter MP stepped in. They went to the top and asked new Speaker John Bercow to overturn this ridiculous ruling. I’m pretty sure that Johnny boy will take the sensible decision. Anyone should be able to meet their MP regardless of their age.

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