Parliament

I took our younger 3, H and C (the Beans’ Spanish daughter) on a trip to Parliament that the local Home Ed group had organised. I think one of the highlights was A saying “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”, which was nice.

We got down to Embankment on the train and Tube, then walked along the river to Parliament. We passed the Battle of Britain memorial, and stopped to talk about it. Lunch was in the grass that’s in the middle of the roundabout thing just outside Parliament, with statues of leaders around two edges (Peel, Mandela, Gandhi etc.) and lots of flags on another. A short stroll to the education centre at the other end of the building, and we met up with the rest of the group – going past a statue of Richard I, and meeting by a statue of Emeline Pankhurst (lots of statues). Airport security, although we didn’t have to take off our shoes, and then onto the tour.

We couldn’t get into the chambers themselves, as they were busy being used by politicians (who’d have thought it). It actually turned out quite well, as the education centre has a room where they have lots of projectors and can make it look like you’re in the middle of the chamber. The guide had an iPad that controlled it all, and could play clips of the Speaker saying “Order, order” etc, and he put silhouettes of the PM etc and other explanations on top of the photos. He was very good – informative, engaged the children and seemed to be glad that we were there. After that we were led around the public bits of the building that weren’t in use, and at the end we got back to the education centre and I thought that was it.

No! We were handed over to another person in another room, who said “I’ll be with you for the next hour”. I thought that this might drag, but she was really good too, and I think the children got quite a lot out of it. She had the children divided up among tables, with a rosette each on it. There tables were constituencies, and the rosettes were parties. Each child picked a rosette, then had to get together with the rest of their party to choose a manifesto.

There was a menu of 10 or so points from which they had to pick 3. Each had a price – up to 50p – and the total price had to have 50p added on for contingency. This was a good exercise in presenting a case to convince people, choosing things fairly and so on. These were then presented to the whole group and put up on the screen – it was interesting that all 5 parties had chosen to increase foreign aid.

Then back to your constituencies to vote. You couldn’t vote for yourself. The red party got 3 MPs and the others 1 each. H was one of the red MPs – none of the others with me got elected. A and her fellow not-elected-red candidate got to chose which of the elected red MPs got to be Prime Minister, who was a girl I didn’t know.

All enjoyable and educational, then outside for refuelling and running about for a bit. We walked back to the Tube, and by popular request went to Harrods rather than a museum – I thought they’d done plenty of educational stuff and should have some fun. We went up the Egyptian escalator to the toy and technology departments. The demonstrators in the toy department were excellent, as were some of the toys. It was interesting to see a couple of augmented reality toys, plus a toy that blended a scalextric-type track and cars with a racing app on a smart phone.

Back to the Tube, which was quite a crush for a few stops, for a brief visit to Coram’s Fields – one of my favourite places in London. Unfortunately we only had a short time before it closed, but it was still good.

No more Tube, as King’s Cross was walkable. We stopped for chips to add to sausages K had packed for us, then had to wait aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages at the station for our train’s platform to be announced. Chocolate biscuits to revive flagging spirits, and then back home.

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