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John Pienaar is both presenter and Chief Political Correspondent for Radio 5 Live. A seasoned reporter, he sees his job as beating a path through the forest of Government spin. Ever since his original, often controversial parliamentary sketch for The Independent, he has acted as tour guide and translator of goings-on in the Westminster village.
John originally trained at South London Press, covering whatever was occurring on his doorstep - be it street crime, domestic violence, sex, drugs or rock'n'roll. He then became an Old Bailey Correspondent and even wrote an angling column (without ever having held a fishing rod).
Instantly recognisable to television news audiences, John has spent hundreds of hours standing in the rain outside 10 Downing Street. He was also invited to take part in a celebrity boxing show, only for it to be cancelled for fear that someone might get hurt. Picking up this theme in his after dinner speech, John imagines what would happen if the public were to vote for MPs by means of a reality TV show.
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When he was 21, Gordon Brown won a Daily Express competition for 'A Vision of Britain in the Year 2000.' One of his first acts in office was to insist that the font for No.10 emails be changed from Times New Roman 12 to Arial 14.
Carlsberg Special Brew was created especially for Winston Churchill, as Denmark's thank-you for Britain's help during World War II.
The door to 10 Downing Street has no keyhole. It can only be opened from the inside.
In a study of common characteristics among Prime Ministers, Lucille Iremonger identified a childhood deprived of affection; extreme self-discipline; religious zeal; aggression, timidity and overdependence on the love of others.
The language used in the Chamber must conform to a number of rules. Past and present House of Commons Speakers have taken exception to: blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon, traitor and fuck.
Briefcases are not allowed in the Chamber. The reading of newspapers, magazines and letters is also prohibited. Eating and drinking (except for discreet sips to ease the voice) is not permitted, in contrast to previous centuries when visitors observed Members sucking oranges and cracking nuts.
The police shout "Who goes home?" when the House rises. This is an invitation to Members to join together in bands to cross what were the dangerous fields between Westminster and the City, or to hire boats homeward on the Thames.
A Member wishing to raise a point of order during a division was, until 1998, required to speak with his hat on. Collapsible top hats were kept for the purpose. Snuff is still provided, at public expense, at the doorkeeper's box at the entrance to the Chamber.