Monday, May 25, 2015
No Job For A Lady: Who Goes Home? Part 1
In "Who Goes Home?", the first episode of the British TV series No Job For A Lady, Jean Price finds herself a fish out of water. She's only been a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Labour Party for three days, but already she's noticed that it resembles an old boys club. Also, the hours are long, with votes being called at all hours. The latter is driven home when a two-line whip is called. She and Ken, the Labour MP with whom she shares office space, must make it out of the building they are in, across the street, and into the House of Commons in fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, the elevator in the office building is out of order, and as Jean hurries across the pavement, the heel breaks off her shoe.
By the time she makes it into the lobby, the vote has been taken. Her office buddy Ken tells her that the vote wasn't all that important, but then the party Whip appears. He disagrees with Ken, and takes a dim view of new MPs who feel such votes are unnecessary to attend.
Back in the office, Ken tries to repair her shoe. When Jean complains about the insane hours MPs are expected to keep while Parliament is in session, he suggests that she can table an Early Day Motion. This may not result in limiting the hours between her desired 9 am and 6 pm, but at least it will alert the members to the problem, and perhaps help them debate the issue.
The problem is that already Jean rarely sees her husband Geoff. Today is his birthday, and tonight a vote is scheduled for 9 pm. She asks her assistant Tim to send her husband some flowers, along with a loving note to "Yum Yum," but she'd really rather be with him. So her office-mate Ken also suggests that she try to pair with someone in the Conservative Party. This pairing arrangement means that they will agree not to attend certain sessions, so that the missing votes (one from each of the opposing political parties) will cancel each other out. Unfortunately, she's already had a run-in with the man her predecessor paired with, Sir Godfrey Eagan, who told her in no uncertain terms that he doesn't appreciate her modern, masculine attire.
So she rushes home to change into a nice dress, hoping she can make up for her poor first impression, and convince Sir Godfrey to pair with her for tonight's vote.
Oh, and maybe she ought to change her shoes as well.
At home, she sees that Geoff has received her flowers, but he believed they were sent from a stranger named Tim who called him "Dum Dum." While she changes, he tells her that if she can't make it home for dinner, no problem. He can always invite Tim to join him.
This episode made me aware of a lot of nuances in the life of a British MP. If you're familiar with "Yes Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister," you can see it differs significantly from those two other sitcoms. While this episode only highlights Jean's duties while Parliament is in session, it served as a nice introduction to the life of a British MP, or Backbencher, which is why I thought I would share it with you.