What were you doing in 1988? Apart from enjoying Rain Man, A Fish Called Wanda and Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’? I was 17 years old and also enjoying all of the above – as well as studying for A-levels at a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, wearing clothes which ran the full colour palette from black to grey, and sporting a frankly spectacular perm.
In 1988, my perm and I also spent a week at the Houses of Parliament, shadowing my local MP, the ebullient Tory Patrick Cormack. This was as a result of winning a sort of competition that he ran every year for sixth-formers in his constituency, and despite me blurting out in my interview that I didn’t like Margaret Thatcher. I can only assume that, in that moment at least, his admiration for youthful chutzpah overrode his admiration for the Iron Lady.
It’s safe to say that the Rt Hon Patrick Cormack and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on political matters, but he was a perfectly gracious host. I spent my week shadowing him and hanging out with his parliamentary assistants, watching the action in the Chamber and, on one memorable evening, being lucky enough to sit next to the brilliant, funny Tony Banks at a posh parliamentary dinner.
But while it was a fascinating week, it was one that also totally and utterly put me off going into politics.