On an interesting trip to Parliament then off to the nearest Macdonalds we went

Colin (the participation officer) who runs the young people’s forum asked me if I would like to come with him on a trip to parliament on Thursday. At first I had to consider the possibility that I couldn’t go because I was going to work at the supermarket between 4pm and midnight that day, however fortunately the schedule for the trip planned to arrive at the AFK building before 2:30pm this allowed me plenty of time to get to my other job so yes for me the trip was on.

On that Thursday morning I had to be at the A.F.K building at 9 o’clock in the morning (half an hour earlier then when I usually have to be there) this wasn’t easy considering the previous day Wednesday I had my usual over 12 hour working day routine of which consisted of me getting out of bed at 8:30am to arrive at A.F.K at 9:30am to do 4 and a half hours of continuous raffle inputting but to be fair during this I am allowed to go out for fresh air briefly in order to stop myself falling asleep. Then at 2pm I get on my Bike and ride home which takes luckily only 5-10 min as I don’t live far from A.F.K eat my Lunch and make my way to the supermarket which takes at least 40min as it is over 2 miles further away than A.F.K but since I get the freedom pass so travel is free and I get the inner London premium so it’s ok. I arrive there at 4pm to stand at a self scan checkout to state the obvious to some idiots and make sure the customers transactions go though smoothly around 7pm-7:30pm I get a half hour break where I grab something to eat then it’s another 4 or more hours on a normal till mostly in the second half of my shift when the real loony tunes tend to make an appearance this can be entertaining when thinking back about it but usually less funny at the time. Then at midnight I finally get to go home and get one of the last tubes. Then when I arrive home I have my dinner and finally get to sleep at well past 1am. So I’m used to a lie-in on a Thursday rather than getting up half an hour earlier than the day before but despite all that I was quite excited.

Our local station

I managed to get there around 9:05am I saw there was only one minibus in the driveway at first I thought the minibus might have gone without me however when I went inside the A.F.K building Colin was there and so was carol chuck (the work related Learning supervisor) and Hisba (a present student) and Faisal (another present student). Colin asked me if I knew where I was going so I replied “houses of parliament “so he asked if I knew how to get there and I said vaguely as I remembered it from before he then handed me a print out from tfl.gov (a website for planning your public transport routes around London) and told me to lead the way. The journey started with a walk to Hornsey BR train.

At the station I saw the train coming in the opposite direction on the other platform before 9:30 and said that I thought my aspie Work colleague Ben would be arriving on this train and just as I predicted me and Colin both saw him but he couldn’t see us as he was facing away from us walking towards the exit to get to the A.F.K building.

On the underground

Next came our train but despite it being past rush hour it was rather crowded and we were standing all way squeezed in the train like sardines. We got off at Highbury and Islington station to get the Victoria line and had the same conditions there. We swapped at Green Park for the jubilee line where we all actually got seats but it was only for one stop. Once we arrived at houses of parliament I saw a load of bikes parked there so I said “I wonder how many M.P’s cycle to work” so Colin said he didn’t think any M.P’s would have got to work yet as it was before 10. We went to meet and had a group photo with a couple of people from Burson Marsteller (a P.R company) who kindly arranged this trip for us using their connections from doing the P.R for the Labour party.

When we started to enter the building we had to get through security. There we had to be searched and put through an airport style x-ray machine with a load of police officers to walk us through it. Once we all got past that, a second group photo was taken and the first part of the houses of parliament we waited in was Westminster Abby, this room that looked like a big church with stain glass windows. I remember one of us pronouncing Hisba’s name as whisper and Colin said to one of the Burson marsteller people “Hisba usually has only one volume level a lot loader then that.” I found that funny only Hisba laughed but seemed to object at the same time.

Our tour guide then arrived to begin walking us though the tour. He was an old Man called Kevin though he was quite humorous this made the tour quite amusing. He showed us the route the queen takes when opening parliament and also showed us queen Victoria’s old throne with a cushion under it for her feet as she was too short for her feet to reach the ground. he asked where in north London we were from as he said he remembered taking a group of school kids from Tottenham around on this tour recently where one of the girls commented on the gold the queen wears to open parliament by saying that it was one serious piece of bling. He showed us to the House of Lords first where there were red seats that you had to be rich to sit in I.E buy a peerage off the current M.P’s or make a few million pound donation to the political party who are in power. When we first entered the House of Lords Hisba said “This is a court” I laughed a little and said “No its not it’s The house of Lords” the guide said “well you’re both Right actually as this used to be the Highest court in the land” he showed us where the dock used to be for the defendant to stand, I asked him if they had cells there for the defendants he said yes they do. I think they now probably use them for anyone caught with anything incriminating by the many police officers who searched us on the way in.

We were then through the corridor where there are statues of ex prime ministers including Margret Thatcher and no statue of tony Blaire but the guide told us that some people say he should have one because he was the longest ever serving prime Minister. He then took us through a corridor leading to the house of commons where the guide talked about King Charles once hearing about one of the M.P’s 350 odd years ago saying that he shouldn’t have as many powers as he does and 4 others agreed with him and he burst in with his army demanding to know who said this and they all refused to tell him and it led to a civil war where he was beheaded and due to those previous actions the queen was not allowed in the house of commons. One of those people to lead the parliamentary coup against the King was Oliver Cromwell who was probably one the biggest party poopers in history who banned Christmas, theatres and pie (and would most likely have banned chart music, T.V and computer games if they had of been invented back then) was to be the one that took over from the king. After hearing that I thought well then he can’t have been a good king if people preferred someone like Cromwell in power to the likes of him.

The guide then took us into the House of Commons full of green seats that you had to be popular to sit in meaning you had to have a 100,000 odd people in your area like you enough to want to vote for you. The guide told us about how M.P’s had a corridor to walk down on one side for yes and one on the other side for no when they were voting on a new law and whichever corridor had the most M.P’s standing in it decided whether that new law got passed or not. He told me there was a bell that rang for when this happened and the bell also rang at 2 local pubs as well as the building in case the M.P’s where out drinking at the time. He also talked about how the black rods would bang on the door to the House of Commons when the queen was there and how she even got the door slammed in her face. I can’t imagine anywhere else where her majesty would receive this kind of welcome.

The guide showed us to a room where there was pictures of napoleon getting defeated by the English army many years ago and how this room was used for the hospitality of important foreign guests and how the pictures had to be covered when the room was being used for this as one time a French president was offended by this picture.

After showing us pictures of King Henry the 8th and his several wives and how he founded the Church of England because the Catholic Church refused to let him marry a 3rd or 4th time. As well as telling the story of Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up houses of parliament with king James in it and he recited a few rhymes like remember remember the 5th of November saying he was a member of the bonfire society so he knew them word for word.

We then went to a gift shop at the end of our tour where there were parliament themed foods and stationery, the most memorable item was gunpowder mustard.

We then went into the cafe and decided it was too expensive a couple of people had decided to bring their own lunch and it was cold outside at the time so the debate was where can we go indoors and eat where they would not object to some of us eating our own food inside. the first place I could think of was a shopping centre inside with a Marks & Spencer or something for those who didn’t bring any food like myself to buy something however near the London eye we found a MacDonald’s. the one thing unique about that MacDonald’s was the fact that it labelled the calorie content of all their products. I was surprised the Big Mac was only 400 and something however I did enjoy my big tasty burger with bacon even though it was 980 nearly 1000 calories we decided there was plenty of time to do something else.

I suggested we went back on the 91 bus got the top front seats as it included us seeing parliament, downing street and we also would have got a tour of prisons on the way back as we would have passed both Holloway and Pentonville on that route and it would have taken us to the doorstep of the A.F.K building, the only thing was that due to diversions we couldn’t find it. however we did get to walk past horse guards parade where Hisba had her photo taken next to a guard on horse, Colin made a comment about how it would be embarrassing if the guard fell off the horse.

then we went to see downing street then we walked to Piccadilly got the tube then the train back to Hornsey where I saw Hisba with an apple so I told her she should have given the horse some earlier she seemed to laugh but also object at the same time. We arrived at the A.F.K building at 2pm just as if it were a normal working Wednesday.

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