Ian Parson, Feb ’24


Ian Parson

I wanted a photo of the Leslie Green station in Holloway. You know, because I’m building a collection before they’re all replaced with bigger, modern, aesthetically disappointing structures. So I jumped on a bus.

From the front seat of the top deck of the number 29 I watched dirty stop-outs taking the walk of shame. Joggers and dog walkers starting the day right and that army of decent folk, the ones who really keep London afloat, heading to and from their shifts.

All too soon I’m outside a cafe on the Holloway Road.

At this point I want to stress that what happened next, occurred in a very short time frame. Factor in that its Sunday morning. My brain is still on standby mode. I’m not expecting any drama.

Anyway I finished my coffee and went inside to pay.

I took out my wallet. Your what grandad? Took out my wallet and paid with cash. Thanked the lady and headed for the exit.

As I crossed the floor the door opened. I glanced as a new customer went past me. Glanced, blinked and stopped dead in my tracks.

Was that Keir Starmer?

I turned towards him. He wasn’t looking at me. He was deciding which seat to take.

Time had barely moved as someone else came in,

A woman this time, with a folder or a briefcase tucked under her arm. She is the epitome of what a politician’s assistant should look like. They’re together without doubt. With just a few steps she’s past me.

It’s now I realise I’ve stopped in the middle of the cafe. I can’t just stand here. I should be walking. Ok, deep breath, be cool. Don’t make a fuss.

But that’s Keir Starmer, the soon to be prime minister, Right there. I should do something.

But this is London. You’re supposed to stay aloof, remain unfazed, no matter what. Besides, is it definitely him?

Two more people enter. Fit young men, wearing suits. They’re completely out of place on the Holloway Road on a Sunday morning.

I stress all this happened in a nano second. I glanced at the Starmer guy. He was choosing a seat, oblivious to me. I glanced at the nearest suit. He gave me a brief inclination of the head. I took it to mean,

By the look on your face, you’ve worked out who that is” 

So with that tenuous confirmation it was time to introduce myself. I know he’s just after a quiet breakfast. No doubt followed by a busy day pressing the flesh and smiling for selfies. I also know Arsenal are home later. Probably why he’s in the area.

Anyway, What am I going to do? Not say something?

But how do I address him?

Suddenly I’m moving towards him still not sure how I’m going to refer to him. “Keir’ too familiar, ‘Starmer’ not really, ‘Sir Keir’ it is then.

As I thrust out my hand, the words came out mangled. It sounds like I’m calling him a skier. But he looked up anyway.

“You don’t know me” I said, “I just want to say ‘keep up the good work”

There was a bit more but that was the jist of it.

He came towards me, shook my hand and thanked me for my kind words. That was that, only it wasn’t. He left an impression that stayed with me all the way to Borough market. 

I’ve met many ‘celebs’ and usually I’m struck by just how normal they are. Its rare indeed, a privilege even, when someone comes across as ‘more than’.

I guess they call that the X factor.

Does Starmer have it? Is he the great white hope? At this stage he better be. 

Because our current situation is not how life should play out. Things used to be much, much better. This island of ours could burst into flames and flip upside down and things wouldn’t be worse.

The last decent Prime Minister we had was Gordon Brown. As most of you are too young to remember a Labour government, I’ll end with a list of what Blair and Brown achieved:-

Shortest NHS waiting list times in history, 44,000 more doctors, 90,000 more nurses, 42,000 more teachers. Introduced minimum wage & winter fuel allowance

Free TV licences & bus passes for pensioners

New Deal for the unemployed. Full time rights for part time workers

The Social Chapter. Record levels of maternity pay and introduced paternity leave

Introduced Disability, Racial, & Religious Hatred Acts

Devolution, Climate Change Act. Peace in Northern Ireland

Sure Start Centres, Right to Roam, Fox Hunting Ban

Free museum entry and much more besides. 

Now name one thing that’s improved in the last 14 years.

Take note,  All politicians are not the same

Ian Parson Feb ‘24

The cafe on the Holloway Road where the ‘incident’ took place
The magnificent LESLIE GREEN STATION on the Holloway Road, North London

All books by Ian Parson are available from Amazon & all good retailers. Also on Audible and Kindle

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