I was logging a meeting of Parliament. Instead of sitting in the reporters' booth, I was in the chamber itself, sitting at a desk beside the members' desks. Unusually, the Presiding Officer was delivering a long and dramatic speech. Even more unusually, he wasn't sitting in his chair, but was striding around the well of the chamber. He was a little hampered in this by the fact that both of his legs were broken and were dragging awkwardly behind him as he tottered about on his crutches. He had an eye patch on and was missing a couple of teeth. Had he been in an accident? Is that what he was telling the chamber?
In fact, he'd been shot, but wasn't letting on. I knew this, but it seemed that no one else did.
He paused and glared at someone in a row behind me. "Strangers!" he cried, pointing with a crutch -- a move that, now I think of it, demonstrated a commendable degree of physical prowess, given his age, his nicotine habit and the fact that both his legs were broken and he would have had to lean his entire body weight on just one crutch in order to do this. And the fact that he'd been shot. (Shhh! No one's supposed to know!)
Turning around in my chair, I saw that the Presiding Officer's shout had woken a Westminster MP and his wife, who had somehow found themselves sitting in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament and had dozed off, presumably due to the irrelevance of the discussion. They pretended to be mildly offended at being singled out so rudely, but it was obvious that they simply hadn't a clue why they had sat in the chamber and not in the visitors' gallery. They huffed out of the back door to the sound of MSPs hooting like a bunch of poorly brought-up ape men.
Notes for Freudian Interpretation
During a committee meeting yesterday, a woman entered the room and it wasn't until she sat down at the table beside me that I realised that she was the new MSP who had shuffled up the list and into Parliament when Richard Lochhead resigned.
In Westminster, members can shout "I spy strangers!" if they notice that any non-MPs are in the room. There are always non-MPs in the room, of course -- in the public gallery, in the strangers gallery, in the press gallery and so on -- so it's just an odd Westminstery piece of nonsense, which can be used to interrupt a debate, like placing a top hat on your head during the budget speech or calling for port on a Tuesday (probably). Yesterday, I said it to an ex-colleague who was up to visit for the first time since starting his new job in the House of Lords. Freudians should note that, in the dream, I make the Presiding Officer say something that was actually said by me during the day. Am I using him as a stand-in for me? Why has he been shot? Why the eye patch?
The source of the snoozing parliamentarian is quite clear, because yesterday, in the same committee that I already mentioned, an MSP was quite clearly asleep at the table. As he's generally quite a quiet chap, no one noticed until a vote was called on a contentious matter. Two votes were recorded on one side, three votes on the other. The convener peered at the only member who hadn't voted. Usually, it would be expected that he would vote with the three who had voted against the proposal. Was he, perhaps, abstaining? An uncertain pause, awkward glances. The convener quietly mouthed his first name. No, he was not abstaining; he was sleeping. As his vote was unlikely to sway the outcome, the other members wordlessly agreed not to wake him and moved quickly on.