The atmosphere in Westminster is oppressive. Hop up the steps from the tube and the cries from the Tamils on Parliament Square bite your ears. I’ve seen plenty of protests on that piece of green over the past few years, but this one crackles like a storm-cloud ready to discharge a bolt of lightning.
The wind seems angry too, sweeping through Victoria Tower Gardens, pulling the hats off tourists and messing up their grey comb-overs. The pigtails on school children billow in syncronicity with the union flag above the tower.
Meanwhile, the press and the suits hurry in and out of the building. They ignore the angry mob and the red flags across the street, and yet they are under attack. They shrug off the violent wind, yet there is a storm brewing inside.
A man of about thirty moves slowly through the crowd. He has a grubby brown jacket and a bad back, both of which accounts for the angry expression on his face. He is hungry and slightly dazed from some painkillers, which accounts for the punch-drunk gait. The protesters, the tourists, the wind, don’t help his mood. Seeds, pollen from the trees, waft down and interfere with his eyes.
And as he approaches Millbank, a tall man in a light grey suit emerges from one of the offices, and turns back towards the Palace. Around his neck hangs a security pass, one with the green and white stripes, the most sought-after there is. He walks with his head bowed, looking at his feet, and doesn’t see the man in the brown jacket lumbering towards him. And the man in the brown jacket has no inclination to move. Only when they are in each other’s personal space, does the man with the green striped security pass feel the presence of the other. He twitches only slightly but is visibly startled. It is as if he is expects to be mugged on the street.
He, the politician, regains his stride and heads towards The Commons. I, the man in the brown jacket, haul myself into the coffee shop on the corner, the better to take refuge from the storm.