Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lindsay's birthday

The State Opening of Parliament was on Tuesday, an occasion to which I never go because it involves dressing up in funny clothes and seeming to pretend that peers are different from the rest of mankind.

Wednesday was Lindsay's birthday, and she had said she wanted flowers, a card, a present and an evening out, all of which I managed to deliver! For the evening out I booked a table at the Prospect of Whitby, an old pub on the river which I think we had visited in the dim and distant past, and JW accompanied us: I kept it a surprise, and Lindsay didn't guess the destination even as we drove through the Rotherhithe tunnel.

The Prospect of Whitby


The original inn on this sue was built in 1520 and was a favourite haunt tor n«it only sailors and fisherman, but also smugglers, thieves and pirates, including- the infamous Captam Kidd earning the: pub its reputation as the "Devils Tavern’ a name that stuck for many years.

'Hanging .Judge Jeffries' was also a regular patron during ihe 17th century. It is said that he would take his lunch on the balcony while watching the hangings taking place at the nearby Execution Dock! A gibbet and hangman's noose stand directly outside the pub in memory of this macabre

customer Another famous patron from this century was Samuel Pepys who became Secretary to the Admiralty and is best known for his diaries tat tell us much of what we- know about London during this period The '1'epys Dining Room"

The ‘Devil’s Tavern bur:ii to the ground in the 1770s and was replaced by the current building, at. which point it was renamed the Prospect of Whitby after a ship that used to moor close by. The original flagstone floor from 1520 still survives today, and ships masts support the internal structure. Resting on old barrels, te pewter-topped bar is thought to be the longest of its type still surviving.

In between, I chaired a meeting at the House on the Kurds of Iran, that was addressed by me, Carol Prunhuber the writer, and Dr Asso Hassan Zadeh, Head of International Relations of the KDP Iran in Europe (see photo below). Its deplorable that there is so little coverage of events in Iranian Kurdistan despite the atrocious human rights violations there by the regime, and we need to think of ways of raising the profile.

Today the debate on the Queen's Speech continued, and in our House there were 49 speakers. We were asked to confine ourselves to 8 minutes so that the House could rise by 19.00, and just managed it. Some went over the limit but one speaker dropped out, and a few others took less than the full 8 minutes. The debate today was opened by Tom McNally, Leader of the LibDems, and his speech was by far the best of the day, with plenty of jokes. I spoke on alcohol harm, and Gypsies, keeping within time, see

The seating arrangements are awkward, because the Bishops have always (they say, since 13-something) occupied the front two benches in the bank to the left of the Government, and we are sitting behind them, so we have no front bench as we had on the other side. I went out for a cup of tea at about 17.00, and when I came back the bishops' benches were empty, so I sat on the second bench. Shortly afterwards the three bishops who had been present earlier trooped back in and joined me.

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