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E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
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Thursday, February 10, 2005
I could have been a contender. Before this royal thing broke the big story was the release of the government papers relating to our departure from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
I never really understood all that, despite working at the Treasury at the time. All I know is that it was this dreadful, ignominious national humiliation and everybody got a little richer after it happened.
Nonetheless the crisis was the occasion for me to suffer a significant loss. On that day, having finished a hard day's work of national unimportance in Government Offices Great George Street, euphoniously known as GOGGS, I came out of the side entrance. And as I stepped into the light a whole bunch of reporters leapt to their feet. Cameras were yanked to the ready position, boom mikes swung to meet me, a few flash lights went off. Then they realised that I wasn't Norman Lamont.
The wonderful thing was that for once in my life a really great line had popped into my head at just the right moment. "Actually," I could say, sweeping past, "I am the Chancellor. I knew you reptiles would never penetrate my cunning disguise." I had the line, I had the situation: a funny spot at the end of the six o'clock news was assured. The only thing stopping me was that between one step and the next I had realised I was wearing a nightie.
This could have happened to anyone. Well, anyone female. I was fairly pregnant at the time and my cousin had recently passed on to me a whole pile of pregnancy clothes. I had been working my way through the pile and that morning I had put on a comfortable, simply cut pull-on dress with a soft collar like they have on rugby shirts. I had wondered whether it was not a little informal, but I didn't have enought pregnancy clothes to turn one down. Anyway something about being the focus of the concentrated attention of the world's press suddenly made it obvious to me that it was probably obvious to everyone else that I was walking the corridors of Her Majesty's Treasury in poly-cotton sleepwear. In the circumstances the headline would be not "Sassy Treasury Girl Trades Jokes With Journalists" but "Mad Woman Stalks Whitehall, Believes Self To Be Chancellor."
So my quip un-quipped I shuffled past the cameras and the cables and went disconsolately home and to bed. At least I was dressed for it.