My Encounter with the Prime Minister

Isabel Lai
Isabel Lai |

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Isabel (left) with her brother and UK Prime Minister David Cameron
Yes, I bumped into the Prime Minister (PM) of UK a couple of days ago. Perhaps I made that sound a bit too casual, as if I told you I bumped into my friend John on my way to a lecture.

To be frank, it was mere coincidence that brought me within David Cameron’s 1-metre radius. My brother, mother, aunt and I were happily munching away our dinner appetizers at The Pantechnicon when the PM walked in with his wife, Samantha Cameron and a guest.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was one of those moments when your heart starts beating so fast you almost want to puke and faint. It felt totally surreal. I mean out of all the restaurants in London, the PM and I had to have chosen the same one! The odds were so slim, it seemed ridiculous to even imagine you would ever end up at the same time, same place as him.

The PM’s tie-less attire suggested it was an informal occasion. Nonetheless, his royal blue shirt reminded me of his mission and what he stands for. Conservatism – even after work.

The 3 VIPs strolled past us and took their seats in front of the table next to ours. It took a couple of minutes for the news to sink in. Then, my brother suggested that we should get a photo taken with him. Between the two of us, we started fussing over who should make the awkward introduction. After a good ten minutes of scheming and phrasing in our heads, we took deep breaths and headed over ...

My brother started off by greeting the PM, telling him that we were both politics students and that it was such an honour to meet him.

The PM seemed slightly alarmed about our sudden interruption to his private conversation and muttered a few generic comments to our pathetic pitch. As if to signal that he wanted to be left alone, he said, “We are just having a family dinner here,” and then attempted to draw the episode to a close with a “Good luck with your studies!”

Given the signals, it looked as though we were going to fail our mission. And then my brother popped the question.

“Would you care to have a photo taken with us?”

Surprisingly, the PM responded, “Yes but only a quick one.”

Just as he was about to get up from his seat, I realised he didn’t have his shoes on. He was evidently enjoying his precious downtime! He slipped his feet back into his black leather shoes, looked over to his wife and mumbled with a hint of annoyance, “I do what I’ve got to do!”

He stood up obligingly and had the photo taken.

Getting a shot with the PM made me think about the nuisance of being a public figure. Did Cameron ever think he would become the PM when he was a PPE student at Oxford? Did he ever imagine that he would one day relinquish all his privacy to public scrutiny and attention? Probably not.

Does he miss the days when he can quietly get on with life? Probably yes, but not enough to give up what he is doing for his country and his people.


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