Downing Street – The Sequel. So, we’d all been invited down to that there London, to a posh event at Number 10. So far, so good. I had behaved relatively normally, did the small talk thing and ate canapés without dropping them down my cleavage.
We all had a high old time, then retired to bed with cocoa, a good book, and a small Highland loch’s worth of chardonnay sloshing about the internals.
To paraphrase any number of blues songs ‘Woke up this morning . . .’ and realised I had left my Samsung Galaxy tablet in Number 10.
I must make it quite clear that I am not endorsing any particular brand. I am reinforcing the fact that I had mislaid a vital piece of technology and not confectionery, which is what my fellow Scots thought at breakfast.
“You’ll call?”, they said, obviously meaning telephone communication to the seat of power to get my tablet returned.
“Och no”, said I. Weirdly, despite shipping enough booze to float a _CalMac ferry, yer girl here was sprightly and up for a morning stroll through London. I’ll just walk back and ask for it.
It was bound to be there. It’s not like Treeza’s about to half-inch my tablet and spend the day taking selfies on it.
Boris won’t snatch up a two-year-old piece of kit and spend the day using it as a frisbee in the House of Commons trying to smack Tom Watson with it . . . oh, wait, best get that tablet back.
So off I set and the walk was lovely. Just exactly what I thought I was going to do when I got there, I have no idea. As many of my friends have pointed out, thinking things through is not my strong point.
Perhaps I thought I could pound on the door of Number 10 while shouting up at the windows ‘Treeza, Treeza, are ye in? Ah wiz here at a party last night. Left ma tablet. Gonnae gie’s it doon?’
One hears that sort of thing in Leith all the time and it seems to work. Many’s the time I have witnessed anything from jeans to laptops mysteriously issue from windows and doors following a bit of a soiree, door-pounding and shouting.
Things you should know about Number 10 Downing Street.
1. Don’t rock up unannounced.
In my head, of course, I assumed I’d get to the heavily guarded front gate, say I’ve left my tablet and then they would say, “Oh, it’s you. Here it is, silly”, a bit of mild joshing and on my way. That was the script.
In reality, I get to the barrier, and a charming heavily-armed young officer comes over, I do my rehearsed ‘left my tablet/can I get it back’ line, including the pause for him to joke about Scottish sweet tooth, then remember the police are Londoners, and they don’t know what tablet is, so now I look like I’ve forgotten what I was saying. Anyway, I expect to be reunited with my errant techno.
No, that isn’t how things go, and I realise that the minute the officer radios in my request. The atmosphere changes very subtly. Suddenly, my friend with the firearm is not the only officer looking at me, and I get the distinct impression that the other guys are imagining cross-hairs across my coupon.
I am walked up to the door, under armed escort. Very armed.
On the left, a phalanx of photographers. The PM will be making a statement later. The press don’t know who this short woman is striding up Downing Street under escort. She might be somebody. So, the snappers start to take photos on the off-chance that I am some super-secret security honcho checking out the lad’s work, or the Cultural Attaché from Kiribati.
In my head, incidentally, I’m in a gender-switched version of The Professionals, and I’m in the Gordon Jackson role.
I was ushered inside.
The reason for the stushie soon became obvious. No one had found the tablet. So, it was just as well a security expert like me came along, then, wasn’t it? Or at the very least, a mum used to hunting missing gym kit. The offending item was right where I had left it, in clear view, in its red leather folder. Not hard to miss.
A couple of quick checks to prove I am me, and the tablet is mine. We turn to leave. Now I’m holding what looks like an important folder under my arm. The press goes bonkers when the door opens.
We pass the microphone set up for Treeza’s press chat. Tempting to an old stager like me. Should I, I wonder to my armed guards, say a few words? Something to reassure the nation?
Thank you, ma’am, they say, but we think the PM will do that later.
That’ll be a first, I thought.