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September 01, 2007


Follow-up to Spotted: Health Secretary in South London supermarket from Esprit de l'escalier

Alan Johnson was in Sainsbury’s again! And once again, I failed to ask him for an internship. This time he was entertaining a small child – presumably his grandson – so I felt it would be inappropriate.

Plus, I’ve just started a new internship anyway, at DeHavilland, the political monitoring firm. I’m based in the Emap offices just over the road from Mornington Crescent tube station, where I was delighted to discover there’s a blue plaque for the late great Willie Rushton.

It’s been a slightly surreal first week for me, possibly because I started a day after I got back from Reading; possibly because the work is pretty similar to what I did at Quintus Public Affairs, so I’ve just hit the ground running; or possibly because I’m used to the 20-strong Quintus whereas Emap’s a massive organisation but I’m in a tiny team.

I was subject to some rather Kafkaesque bureaucracy yesterday morning. On Tuesday and Thursday front desk gave me a temporary pass to the building and on Wednesday they just waved me in. Yesterday, they decided to implement some draconian changes: without a staff pass I couldn’t enter Emap unless someone with a staff pass could vouch for me. The same guy who’d let me in the previous three days couldn’t make an exception. He had no contact numbers with which to ask someone to come down so if I hadn’t happened to have my supervisor’s number as a recently called number, I’d have been waiting in the lobby all day. I’ve got my photo ID now – unfortunate cowlick and all – so it’s all good.

Apparently, the brothers Miliband have inspired a new game. The Guardian’s “What We’ve Learned This Week” segment mentioned Musical Miliband Three-Way. There’s little on Google. Can anyone explain what it is? It sounds rude.

Cabinet Secretary Glenn Miliband

Foreign Secretary Steve Miliband

July 28, 2007

Spotted: Health Secretary in South London supermarket

So there I am in Streatham Common Sainsbury’s: I’ve just finished piling my groceries on the conveyor belt and I notice a middle-aged couple one till down gazing with interest in my general direction. What are they so thrilled about, I think. The customer in front of me, a silver-haired gent to whom I’d hitherto paid scant attention, pays up and makes his way to the exit. Well fuck me if it isn’t the Right Honourable Alan Johnson MP!

I’m pretty damn sure it was him, though when I sought confirmation from the checkout girl she just nodded and smiled politely. I can only apologise to my readership for not realising sooner and engaging the Secretary of State for Health in some friendly and no doubt insightful political banter. I could even have helped pack his bags then casually asked for an internship. I just wasn’t on the ball. That’s the last time I go drinking the night before a major food shop.

I failed also to make, for the purposes of analysis, a mental note of the member for Hull West and Hessle’s shopping, except for one item: the oxymoronic Reduced Fat All-Butter Croissants. Semantics aside, it’s good to see he’s leading the country’s War on Obesity by example.

Sainsy B’s former chairman Lord Sainsbury was, of course, science minister until last year. I wonder if the shopping preferences of the rest of the Cabinet show similar loyalty.

I saw one of the above men today

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