How Westminster’s finest stay constantly coiffed and craftily concealed
Even though it’s called the “Palace” of Westminster, some would say Parliament is a bit of a dump.
There is even talk of where to move MPs and Lords, as the Houses of Parliament need to undergo renovations costing billions of pounds.
But what about the stereotypical image of Parliament, packed with MPs eyeing bigger salaries, and the ever-infamous expenses claims?
Is it all just hairshirts and chomping gruel there? To the relief of MPs and Lords, there are still a few things in the Houses of Parliament that might help make life a little more bearable.
Whenever a Parliamentarian wants to feel the snip in an age of “cuts”, they can go to their local branch of John Simon to keep their locks in order.
LondonlovesBusiness.com has obtained a copy of the price list for the hairdresser’s services, so you can see that the rates are all rather proper (see the file attached on the right of this article) – unlike the more friendly rates at the bars and restaurants.
Deep in the House of Lords, there is a shooting range for rifle-wielding elder statesmen.
Don’t worry, the range doesn’t cost that much to maintain. Lord Sewel revealed in the House of Lords earlier this year that the range uses hardly any lighting and only incurs costs “in respect to that percentage of general estate costs which is paid for by the house”.
The (re)discovery of the range has set journalists on a hunt for it, with some seasoned lobby hacks like Simon Hoggart recalling their first experience of the range:
“I found it eventually, in the basement of the House of Lords. You could borrow a .22-calibre single-shot rifle and ear defenders, and blaze away while an instructor, who was always present, told you to “squeeze the trigger, don’t tug at the bloody thing!” The guns and premises were securely locked up – it was certainly a lot safer than being in a pub with a lot of pissed darts players.”
An secret underground entrance
No point having to slog your way through the Westminster pedestrians and dawdling tourists – Parliamentarians can bustle their way in to the Houses of Parliament through a secure underground passage straight from Westminster tube station.
When an MP needs a bouquet in a jiffy, or a Lord needs to get a last-minute rose, there is an in-house florist to provide.
LondonlovesBusiness.com tried to find out how much the flower services would cost Parliamentarians but got told that such figures weren’t allowed to be disclosed.
Why so secretive? Apparently the rates would be “prejudicial to the House’s and the third party’s commercial interests as this service is currently subject to a formal tender process.”
Even more oddly, the House of Commons don’t want to let on how much the florist used to charge in the previous years – before any potential “tender process”.
The gym is open to “all Parliamentary staff”, with MPs often known to venture in for a good work-out. Former Home Secretary Jack Straw is said to be a particular regular.
It’s not exactly open to any punter as the gym, nestled away on the Parliamentary estate, requires a security pass to access.
But what about the rates? Some services there do seem rather favourable, like the gym’s one-to-one fitness instructor training sessions for just £15 per hour.
Most gyms nearby can’t boast such saucy deals – Virgin Active in Chelsea has instructors at more than double the rate, for £40-50 per hour.