Living in London is quite unlike living anywhere in the world, with every new day bringing a fresh set of wonders and experiences. But, few match a visit to Westminster: the mother of all parliaments, the seat of empire, the home of democracy - and all you need is an Oyster card and a C10 bus.
Crossing Lambeth Bridge, the sight of the palace tower flying the union flag is enough to fill one's heart with elation. As Millbank approaches, as if in slow motion, memories of the greatest parliamentary moments flood freely through the mind: Margaret Thatcher's defiant last speech as Prime Minister; Dennis Skinner's annual light-hearted jibes during the State Opening; and of course, Geoffrey Howe's damning resignation speech in 1990. Our parliament has always been at the very heart of the cut and thrust of British political debate. But, how often does Bermondsey get a look in?
|Bermondsey Town Hall, Spa Road SE16|
Since Bermondsey Town Hall closed in 1965, and its seat of power was subsumed by the London Borough of Southwark, democracy has shifted further and further away from the people. Ask anyone down at the Blue Market on Southwark Park Road, and they will tell you how the former Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey transformed the lives of some of the poorest people in Britain - the ghosts of pioneers past Alfred and Ada Salter shout aloud their legacy from every street corner. But, did you know that Bermondsey man and woman can follow in Alfred's footsteps and hang out in parliament?
|The Palace of Westminster|
Luckily, Bermondsey Beach had a special invitation this week to dine at one of the many restaurants in the Palace of Westminster, and the menu was surprisingly Bermondsey: bangers and mash with lashings of onion gravy, shepherd's pie, chicken korma and the finest apple and cinnamon crumble this side of South Bermondsey station. The kitchen even provided free tap water to wash it all down with! (It is even said that they serve up a damned fine full English breakfast for the early risers - Simon Hughes has probably had one or two over his 30 year reign as MP!).
|Dun's Deli at The Blue Market, or the Palace of Westminster?|
Now, we understand from the Daily Telegraph, that parliamentary staff enjoy subsidised dining. But, remember that not everyone who works in the palace is an MP, and even they deserve a hearty meal now and then. So, how can Bermondsey folk get in on this culinary action?
|Simon Hughes MP|
Well, this man can help! In his role as our MP, Simon Hughes organises tours of the palace for Bermondsey residents, as well as arranging tickets to watch the lion's den that is Prime Minister's Question Time. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and perhaps soon you too will be enjoying exquisitely prepared Bermondsey fayre alongside the spirits of Churchill, Bevan and Lloyd-George. Now, that's democracy in action!
|Winston Churchill MP|
The greatest parliamentary speeches of all time: