We'd travelled down from the North West of England - 4 of us in the car, the furthest of our number coming from Carlisle, over 300 miles from London.
Gathering outside the best club in town and following an intrusive touchy-feely search of my man vegetables by a purple gloved prophylactic-clad police officer, we entered the holy of holies, largesse central - the Palace of Westminster. What a fantastic building! Awesome architecture and sheer presence of stoneware is a heady mixture.... I have to say, I was totally gobsmacked at the grandeur of it all. It couldn't last. I was soon brought down to earth and the grinding reality of why we were there in the first place as the plodding baggage of Charles Clarke frumped past our throng.
Clarke really does cut a rather pathetically podgy figure nowadays. Charlie-no mates and his big wobbly shiny-trousered backside disappeared from view, barely acknowledging our questions about the possibility of us ever having an English Parliament.
Bang on time we were invited into Committee Room 10. This was not the original venue - they had to rearrange to a much bigger room due to the huge amount of interest. The place was packed - notable audience attendees included Tory MP, Sir George Young, Robin Tilbrook EDP chair, Mike Knowles from the CEP and UKIP man Mr Campbell Bannerman. There was also a creditable crew of EDP, CEP and patriotic foot soldiers present. All looked to the top table for the protagonists to appear.
First to show was former Gordon Brown girlfriend and debate anchor, Sheena MacDonald. Tory Grandee and Grand Committee obssessive, Sir Malcolm Rifkind soon followed. All eyes levelled towards the swing doors waiting for the supposed political heavyweight of the Falconer-man to show.
We waited. And waited....... And waited some more.
Sheena apologised for Falconer's disregard. The audience grew restless - afterall, some of us had travelled 300 miles to be there. We'd made it - but the fat control freak hadn't... True to form, Falconer was showing the utmost contempt to the people of England...... Suddenly, the swing doors burst open and the bloated, sweating, visceral Mr Blobbied form of the Lord Falconer lurched into the room. Grand entrance it wasn't. Shambolic, disorganised and loud, it most certainly was.
The heaving, gasping sweaty mess of fat, badly fitting clothing and delusions of adequecy collapsed onto the desk next to Sheena. Sir Malcolm grinned. His alter-ego was bursting to get out - tweed skirt, sensible cardy and arrogant sneer..... Yes, Miss Jean Brodie in her prime was a morphed reality. In his mind, Rifkind was the creme de la creme and Falconer was Billy Bunter, the duffer from the lower 4th remove....
As Falconer was a nanosecond away from a coronary, Sheena thought it best that Miss Jean Rifkind should start the proceedings. He started. He boomed his shrill Brodie brogue. "Grand Committee" was the answer according to Sir Malc. It was "sensible, elegant, and right for England and the Union"..... The heckling started. Sir Malc tried to big-up the amazing nobility of the Union, apparently, for the last 300 years we have been"punching above our weight", "we like each other", "we get on"........ "however, if something is not done, English members of Parliament will not put up with it much longer"........ Sir Malc' obviously knows a few English MPs with backbones then?.
It was predictable Tory unionist stuff. Completely unworkable, obviously - but hey what did we expect? And anyway, Rifkind was merely the sideshow, the main act, the Falconer was about to take the stage.
He got up. The wheels fell off - or rather, the tail flaps of his hand-made shirt and 3 stone of concentrated gut-lard flopped out. Freed from the constraints of his straining belt, he struggled like a fat man possessed to get everything tucked away again. Charlie Falconer, the man with the most ill-describing surname since 'Tiny Littletodge' the legendary and massively endowed porn star - looked awful. Sweating top lip, jowls to the power of ten and comedy hair - the trinity of dishevelment was there for all to see. He gave up trying to stuff his flabby bits away. They'd made their bolt for freedom and there was no way they were going to get up close and personal with Charlie's Y-Fronts ever again... The tail of his shirt hung like a white flag of surrender as he went into his trying to 'defend the indefensible' routine.
"England accounts for over 80% of the population of UK",...... "To give England a Parliament would be a disaster for the Union"....... The heckling went into frenzy mode. Falconer, flustering on regulo 12 by now, decided to play his ace..... and what an ace it was....
The heckling stopped - stunned. What was this overblown, overpaid, overpensioned and overweight buffoon going on about? Was he saying that all these people would be expelled back to their native countries because England got a little national democracy? Yes he was.... A collective moan of "For God's sake" rose from the audience..... Just then, the man who had travelled from Carlisle shouted out "What the hell are you talking about - what about the 400,000 French people living in London?"
Falconer gurned like a fish miming to the Sound of Silence..... Nothing came out.
It was all downhill for Falconer from then on. After the gem of gems - a killer line that any 8 year-old would have been proud of had passed his lips, his 'credibility-o-meter' was in freefall.
Just then, smooth Sheena, the girl with all the facts at her fingertips tried to rescue the drowning Falconer..... "Well, as you are the Lord Chancellor..." Thankfully, the informed audience interrupted her banal question and put her right. Falconer was no longer LC - he'd been kicked out by her ex-boyfriend in number 10 - not only that, his pension had been brought down from 'Absolutely Obscene' to the more respectable 'Bloody Outrageous' level by the Prudence man himself.
The ex-Lord Chancellor flopped down into his reinforced seat - exhausted, exasperated and expendable. So that was it, was it?
Charlie Falconer, supposedly, the most forensic, most brilliant legal mind since Perry Mason on a very smarty-pants day, had delivered his answer to 'the question'..... Well actually, he hadn't. Sheena turned to the gasping form on her right and said to him - "So, what's the answer to the WLQ then, Lord Falconer?"
Falconer wobbled into action. Arms whirred, Perry Mason 2008 vintage, parading to the expectant throng.... "I put it to you that the answer, the answer to the West Lothian Question is .... to do nothing - just leave it as it is"...
Two hundred pairs of eyes fixed on him. Could he feel the hatred directed at this bombastic has-been? In less civilised lands, Falconer would have been dragged out by his shirt-tails there and then, and hung from the nearest lamp post as the price for his obscene arrogance.
The Q and A's started...... Well, not really. The questions rained in - unfortunately the answers were totally inadequate - they mostly answered questions that weren't asked. But then, just when I'm beginning to lose the fight to resist jumping the desk and beating Falconer to within an inch of his pension, someone got up and asked the great white effer if he thought that England was a country in its own right?
"Of course, England plainly is a nation"..... A few fainted, a few went mad. Falconer admits England is a nation - shock!
The heckling was really starting to take off as the answers went ever weirder. Our little enclave, just over an extended punching distance from the top table was beginning to get a reputation. Sheena distained at us from over her bi-focals, Sir Malc' beaded his beady eye on us, Falconer occasionally flicked a gob of sweat over in our direction - we were cut adrift from the people allowed to ask a question. The minder from the Hansard Society turned to us and said "Ssshhhhhh!!!"
Quick as a flash, my esteemed colleague mentally flipped through his book of witty retorts....... "No, you shush, yourself!" he said. And she did.
Brilliant or what?
Anyway, having well and truly shushed our adversary to silence with a bit of northern wit, we were free to go into turbo-heckle mode.
Falconer simply would not, could not admit that the fairest actions to take would be to let the people of England decide via a referendum.... just like the good folk of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had.... His retort was constantly to tell us to get voted in through the ballot box.
And strangely - and ever so predictably, towards the end, a few Irish and Scots got up to proclaim that the union was too important to mess with..... Some public schoolboy in a maroon blazer got up, proclaimed he was a Unionist - then did a right good impression of Tony Blair aged 14 and three quarters. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that this kid was little Lord Falconeroy - a mini-me ringer for his voluminous Dad... Another bloke got up and said he was from Yorkshire (why are they always from Yorkshire?) and that all the people who wanted an English Parliament were a load of 'nutters'.....Hmmmmmmm.
Finally, as if to bond us all together into a great big You-Kay family of fabness, Sheena revealed that her Dad came from Scotland but her Mum was from the South West..... Sir Malcolm nodded sagely - why; his Mum came from Scotland and his Dad came from Yorkshire - the audience hissed. They both blinked. They just didn't understand did they? That last frippery, that last attempt to try and show us that we are all brothers with UK DNA coursing through our veins massively backfired - but they didn't know why.... In spite of their protestations, they still viewed Scotland as a nation and England as a shovel of regions.....
And then they were gone. Sir Malc' shoved his papers into his slim-line brief case - the Falconer tried to shovel his gut back into his trousers...
We meandered out into the passageway. I wondered if Sheena, Falconer and Sir Malcolm were even now in some mega-subsidised parliamentary bar aptly named 'The Gravy Train', drinking their subsidised gee and tees, slapping each other's backs and wondering if they had got away with it. Got away with the deception that they were supposed to be from opposite ends of the night's proposition, when all along we knew they were there purely to maintain the status quo - to keep the new Brit order of English emasculation and Scottish empowerment....
"Well Sheena and Malcolm, I think we got away with that OK, don't you?... Bottoms up"
My daydream was interrupted as 'Wee Duggie' Alexander almost walked into me. He smiled and said "Helloo" and hurried into the chamber.. Wow, Wee Duggie - he's usually residing in Gordon's top pocket isn't he? Paul Murphy, new Welsh Secretary and 'regions of England' champion wandered past.... him and Duggie were obviously rushing into the lobby to vote on another piece of English-only legislation.
We walked into Westminster Hall and stood on the exact same spot where Charles the first (hey, another Scot!) received the news from his regicide accusers that they were going to remove 15 lbs of useless fat from his Royal personage. We gazed up to look at the truly fantastic hammer-beamed roof. Amazing, something English, made by Englishmen that the powers-that-be hadn't yet destroyed or sold to America. We clicked through the security gate and onto the street. A man walked past us wearing an expensive camel coat. He looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders - it was, well sort of. The deaths of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of British soldiers are directly due to his opinion that the Iraq war was legal..... I mumbled something under my breath in his direction - he didn't respond. No doubt he'd heard it all before. Lord Goldsmith wended his sad and lonely way home
Over the road, we went to the Red Lion pub, had a few scoops of IPA then decided to make for the car. We wished our fellow patriots best wishes and strolled towards the car park under Parliament green. Sauntering past a bus stop, we came across a whizened old ginger nutted politician waiting for his ride home. He looked pathetic, and very, very 'worse for wear'. He shouted over to me - "Hellooo there, to you!"
Yes, Charles Kennedy looked as if he had fallen on very hard times. One of our group started to question him about the nation of England and the prospects of a parliament for our country.....
I walked off, full of resolve. Things really do have to change - the donkeys at Westminster need to know that the nation of England ain't happy. This year.... they willl find out.