Exchanges with strangers used to be mostly about the weather; now as you pass someone walking by the river they are likely to look up from their phone and say ‘Chancellor’s gone’ or ‘She’s resigned then.’ In the queue at the supermarket you will not hear ‘Why can’t they open another till’ but ‘…talk about revolving doors’ or ‘Well, we’ve got another Prime Minister.’
Revolving doors or the usual wooden black door, Number 10 Downing Street must be the most watched door in the country, perhaps in the whole world. If you see a long shot down the short street, or a news camera pans round, you will see banks of cameras and reporters on the other side. One thing you don’t need to remember if you are Prime Minister is your door keys, but you do need to remember other things; slippers off, high heels on, speech notes, the lectern ( each Prime Minister apparently has their own ) and an overnight bag just in case you aren’t allowed back in.
There are many other doors under surveillance by the press. Any MP or minister likely to be resigning, sacked, promoted or reinstated will have the press outside their home. We can watch on breakfast television as they go out jogging or set off for parliament or Downing Street on their bikes or in their cars. One of the many reasons I have never gone into politics is that I would trip as I jogged away, wobble off my bike, or the car wouldn’t start in front of all those cameras. I also have enough trouble getting out of the front door under no pressure, having gone back upstairs at least three times and unlocked the door at least twice for something I’ve forgotten. Our great leaders may not be any good at running the country, but they do know how to get out of their front doors. They do not fiddle around with the door wide open tying up their trainers or pat their pockets ( in the case of the ladies, rummage around in their handbags in panic ) checking they have door keys, car keys, phone, wallet, loose change for the Big Issue man. Nor do they slide out backwards, crouching, trying to make sure the new puppy does not escape. They do not have to drag reluctant children with them who have to be dropped off at school on the way.
It would keep the press on their toes if, just as they asked a pertinent question such as ‘Will you still have a job at the end of today Minister?’ he or she pressed their palm to their forehead and fumbled with their keys to dash back indoors because they had forgotten their briefcase, to feed the cat, go to the loo, lock the back door… Or perhaps they would start to give a newsworthy answer just as their loved one came to the door with hugs and smoochy kisses to wish them luck and say they will still love them, even when they are no longer a Minister.