Parliamentary Coverage – Yawn Along with the Commons People

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William James Downing

Whilst fixing myself a light snack of ‘all the pizza’ last night, the television was dimly playing in the background. I was trying to catch some more in depth, parliamentary coverage of the triggering of Article 50.

What did happen though was a fairly remarkable speech, certainly worthy of note, about patient confidentiality by some doctor: I stuck out my bottom lip, nodded in agreement at what he had said, then was going to turn back to blogging.

I did not. A weirdly uneventful and surprisingly reserved ritual took place, all captured by the BBC cameramen. Cameramen who, one can only assume, are given absolutely no choice in their photography related role within the BBC, given that they have to sit in parliament all day using pretty much the same four shots all day: Speaker, Leader of Opposition, Leader of Majority and crane shot of the whole house. Poor bastards, one can only assume – like a runner, a researcher, an office junior, a gopher, etc… that, this is the job you get when you are newly-qualified – parliament.

I say surprisingly reserved because, well, one would assume – this being Britain – that the whole ritual would have been more sophisticated, needlessly complicated and even pompous. It was not.

The Speaker, John Bercow, will ask everyone if they have finished, um, speaking. If this is indeed true then he gives a nod to the Serjeant-at-Arms. Jill Pay, the present Serjeant-at-Arms, walks up the central concourse of the house and does a small bow to the Speaker. The Serjeant-at-Arms then lifts the ceremonial gold mace out of its holder in front of the Speaker, turns on their heel and strides out with it. A cameraman then jumps into action – its their big moment, they have been lying like a sniper all day, no muscle as been moved, and now, now is their time, their instant of photography greatness – panning the camera in an inverse bell-curve to rest on the clock. Done.

That is it. Seriously. I frantically flicked channels trying to find something to wake me up from the mind-numbing routine that had just pebble-dashed my grey matter. Aaahh, a sigh of relief as I flip past a Big Brother clips show, a photo of Nick Clegg’s face and something presented by Alex Zane, and find a channel dedicated to filming a painting of growing grass, dry. Aaahh, comparative visual ambrosia.

Memo to House of Commons: Consider any of these things to make the whole process more better-er; a Spanish guitar, a pounding row-row-row drum, Glenn Miller, roman candles, someone dressed as a catholic terrorist, a Looney Tunes jingle, a blues band that have trouble finishing the final 8 of any song, clapping, anything else.

Kudos to that cameraman though…

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