Thursday, 6 June 2013

1 month until a very tough speaking engagement at Mowden

On July 6th I am the speaker at the Mowden School Annual Prize giving in Northumberland. An easy task you may think - you give the prizes, you smile, you say well done and beaming children disappear with the congratulations of the school. Or so I thought ....
Haviung accepted this engagement it was only some time later that certain parents and teachers indicated that - to coin an M& S phrase - this is no ordinary prize giving.
I am required to give a speech - that is 10 minutes long and comprehensible to children and adoring parents alike.
The last two speakers have been Doddie Weir and Alexander Armstrong
Both, by all accounts, were brilliant
Doddie is a man mountain and a renowned Newcastle Falcons rugby player, local legend and British Lions cap
Alexander warmed up with countless appearances on Have I Got News For You, a few Pimms adverts and a lifetime on the comedy circuit.
With a little help I write all my own speeches - the good, the bad, the occasionally funny and the ones that few read on such esoteric issues as fuel poverty in the Tynedale, "Torchgate" and the need for better railways for the hard pressed Hexham commuter, and my thoughts on everything from wind farms and the declining situation in Syria.
Perfect training you might think for a roomful of expectant mums, dads, teachers and their restless charges.
In truth I am greatly looking forward to the event and plan to try and recruit the real stars of the show - the Mowden Leavers - to help play a part. They are coming to the House of Commons in a couple of weeks to visit the House, grill me and see what democracy is all about.
But whilst they are in my care in Westminster I might try and get their help with the speech. After all - the people who know most about a school, its successes and its occasional faults and foibles - are always in my experience the kids.
The final serious point is that I would repeat my invitation to all of our local schools, and constituents, to come and visit parliament: it is your parliament, your democracy, and I am merely a temporary custodian of the honour and duty to try and articulate my voters needs, causes and aspirations. Others will follow - maybe some of the stars of any one of our schools in Northumberland.