I reluctantly was one of four British girls chosen by the Press Office to be interviewed on life in Brussels by a young female reporter from The Daily Mail. In the process I was followed by a photographer, buying newspapers from a kiosk and having lunch at my favourite posh burger restaurant. One of the girls warned me not to be photographed with a drink as it would be exploited for an alcoholic angle. Alas, too late I was shot with a burger and glass of red wine so I gratefully withdrew from the interview process. The centre-page spread duly appeared thankfully minus my photos.
Apart from the EU canteens there are multiple good restaurants in the environs of the institutions. Once, instantly recognisable above the restaurant noise was a booming Northern Irish voice. I looked around to see the giant of a man, the Revd Ian Paisley surrounded by tables of burly men, eyes constantly darting around the room, muscles bursting through cheap suits. Considering it is an advantage to be unnoticeable in bodyguarding, that quest must have been impossible in his case.
Another case I witnessed of conspicuous bodyguarding was as I descended the first floor staircase in the European Parliament. In the throng below four sharp-suited men surrounded every inch of the tiny King Hussein of Jordan (Snr), marching as in a Roman shield formation. Only his head was visible from above.
Rumour has it
Anti-EU articles were not exclusive to the British press. At the same time there was antI-EU sentiment in Denmark. A Dutch newspaper printed an absurd article accusing the dozens of women working in the Cabinets of being prostitutes. Amusingly two of the ‘girls’ in our Cabinet were past retirement age.
Later rumours circulated that the married men were sleeping around during their monthly trips to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. When asked about their husbands’ behaviour I had to reassure two of their wives that genuinely this did not apply to their husbands. Those who gossip have no idea of the distress they cause. Perhaps the politics of envy also comes into play.