Monday 24 May 2021

Security for former Prime Ministers

is not a given in Downunder. There is a piece in this morning's paper by a retired journalist who still writes the occasional opinion column. He is commenting on the way one of our former Prime Ministers was waiting to get his luggage at the carousel. There was no security detail to be seen. 

Nor should there need to be. We live in a democracy. People get voted in and out. I have met more than one former Prime Minister - on both sides of politics - and I doubt they would have welcomed being given such "security". Others might have welcomed it, especially those with an inflated view of their importance. 

Several times in my life I have been in places where security has been tight, very tight. Perhaps those subjected to it all the time grow used to it but it was not very pleasant to know the apparently nondescript men around you were carrying guns they would not hesitate to use if necessary.  

There are also people I have met who have actively avoided such security measures. One of them was an elderly man who used to walk through the university grounds in Woburn Square in central London.  He would often pass me at about the same time every morning. I had no idea who he was but he always greeted me with a courteous, "Good morning". Occasionally we would exchange a remark about the weather.  

It was probably two years or longer before he stopped me one morning and asked if I had knitted what I was wearing. I was. He then asked if I could mend a cardigan his late wife had made. The cuff on one sleeve needed to be replaced. He had the necessary wool. I thought it was slightly odd that he should ask me but I did as he asked. He thanked me profusely. It was obvious the garment meant a lot to him.

Several days later I saw the then Director of the Institute of Education crossing the square. He stopped me and said he had been told about the incident. Apparently the gentleman in question was a High Court judge!

The gentleman and I simply went back to greeting one another and making the occasional remark about the weather. 


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