Sunday, 10 March 2013

£30 to see Stanley Johnson - it's bloody outrageous!

Over the weekend there have been a few blogposts about Stanley Johnson, but I am posting one final tale to close off the week.

Two years ago he was guest of honour at the Tonbridge & Malling dinner.  It was a huge success with every branch taking a table of ten.  A few days before the event, I answered the phone at the office.

Andrew Kennedy: Conservative Association, how can I help?

Demanding Female Caller: Yes, I should like to see Stanley Johnson please, when is he here

AK: He's here on Friday

DFC: Yes, yes - very good. I shall come. Where is it?

AK: Hadlow Manor Hotel at Goose Green (yes, we really have a Goose Green in T&M)

DFC: I live in Edenbridge, is he not coming anywhere closer?

AK: Afraid not, he's here for one night only.

DFC: Oh, well I suppose I have no choice. What time?

AK: 7.30pm. And tickets are £30.00.  I am afraid the table from Edenbridge is full, but I do have a spare space with the people from Hildenborough. Is that OK?

DFC: 7.30pm. How ridiculous. Can I not come earlier?

AK: Well, you could come at 7pm if you would like to attend the Champagne and canape reception, but that would be an additional £20.

DFC: That's outrageous, I am appalled. Thirty pounds to come and then you want a further twenty pounds EXTRA. For Champagne. And you wish me to sit with people from Hildenborough. I am appalled. Cancel my booking. Goodbye.

I thought to myself, "what a ghastly woman" and was thankful that she lived in the farthest point of the constituency, a good hour's drive from the office.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rang again. It was a reporter from the Sevenoaks Chronicle.

Reporter: Can you confirm, if a constituent wishes to see John Stanley, does he or she have to pay?

Me: Oh no, of course not, why would you ask..?

Reporter: Well, we've just received a call from a very angry lady in Edenbridge who said she phoned to make an appointment to discus her cancelled hip operation. She claims that you told her that she had to come to Goose Green at 7.30pm. Sit with other people from Hildenborough and pay either £30, or £50 if she wanted Champagne.

Suddenly the penny dropped. She was a constituent who actually wished to see John Stanley (not Stanley Johnson). I hurriedly explained the situation to the reporter, who sounded disappointed. I am not surprised; "MP charges constituents £50 for consultation with Champagne and canapes" would have probably made the front pages.

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