Like most people, I had rather an abstemious January, don’t seem to have been out for a meal for ages.
So it’s been nice to have two meals out in a week, both catching up with other women in politics.
Being a candidate is odd enough (not a regular job to start with, plus by definition you’re the only one in your patch), and being a woman candidate is rarer still, so we do lean on each other. Sometimes literally after an evening out…
Last Saturday lunchtime I caught up with Glasgow North PPC Katy Gordon, who was briefly in London. She came by the Islington Lib Dem office (by lucky chance we’d been having one of our clean-up mornings, so she saw it at its best: we do have carpet under those boxes) and then we went off to lunch at Browns on Islington Green. As well as Katy, there was Bunhill councillor Ruth Polling, and Holborn & St Pancras PPC Jo Shaw (plus Jo’s & my partners).
Our menfolk are both Scots in exile, so there was as much talk of the rugby as of Katy’s campaign to save her local primary schools from closure. Although I thought we’d have to change seats when it emerged she’s a Celtic fan (Richard prefers Rangers). The lads sloped off to watch the rugby while the rest of us were enjoying pudding. Well, we do live the stereotype occasionally.
Browns, like Waterstones next door, is on the site of the old Collins Music Hall, formerly known rather splendidly as the “Islington Hippodrome”. (Could be worse: the rather grand Cambridge branch of Browns is in a former VD clinic.)
Then last night I met up with Jo again, with Flick Rea, the doyenne of Camden Council, plus Lib Dem blogger Helen Duffett and rising star Mili Ahmed.
This time we were at the Pizza Express in Kentish Town (bosco salad, lemon sorbet and a glass or two of chianti: not a bad end to the week). It’s a spectacular building, a great semicircle with a high roof and curvy balconies; a bit like eating on a vintage liner or the set of a 30s musical.
Back in the 30s, the building was more prosaic; the home of the North Western Polytechnic, which later merged with the Northern Polytechnic to form the Polytechnic of North London. The Kentish Town site was closed about 20 years ago: the classrooms converted to flats, while the entrance hall and library became Pizza Express.
The other PNL sites in Islington are still going strong as part of London Metropolitan University. With the exception of the Libeskind building on Holloway Road, they are not exactly architecturally distinguished. I enjoyed my postgrad library course at Ladbroke House; but I don’t honestly think anyone would ever pay to eat there….
Anyway, we had a fun evening discussing among other things Twitter. Helen is an accomplished twitterer, I’ve only been tweeting for a couple of days, but keen to encourage others. So I was very impressed to find @CamdenJo online by the time I got home.