As it happened we followed Chris Woodhead, who'd earlier delivered the petition of 18,500 signatures at No 10, and who was going to talk to the MPs later. As a result I think we got straight into the Commons Dining Room before we should have. Neither of our local MPs were coming; so Jane, from Witney, went to find her local MP's office - and proceeded to spend the next half-hour briefing David Cameron's secretary. Nice one, Jane! At 4 pm everyone else was let in! I thought the MPs' interest - or uninterest - was disappointing. Not one Oxfordshire MP. In fact I gathered about 20 had come by 5 o'clock. But we talked to a peer, and at the end to one MP, Nia Griffith, who went off to sign the EDM (Early Day Motion) supporting the National Strategy for MND.
One cameo I witnessed was an MP talking, presumably, to some of his constituents. No sooner had the official photographer snapped the moment than the MP instantly turned and left.... Hmm.
Sadly he missed the short intro given by Professor Blakemore and the moving personal account of MND given by Chris Woodhead, former Chief Inspector of Schools. That was lacking in self-pity. It seems he's had a different form (PMA?) about as long as me. His speech is still clear. He described MND in his experience as a 'merciful disease' for three reasons. First you learn contentment. Secondly you learn to make the most of the moment. And lastly it allows you to say your farewells properly. I'm told he spoke without notes, though being in a wheelchair I couldn't see.
I'd had the opportunity earlier to chat briefly to him about the time when he taught at the University's Institute of Education and I had one of their best students attached to my department in Cowley St John. Contrary to my prejudices from his HMI days I warmed to him greatly. He commented that he'd not still be alive if it weren't for the incredible support of his wife, who was there too. Naturally I empathised with that sentiment! I reflected on how quickly shared hard experiences break down barriers and bring people together. I suspect in a world without suffering there would be far more alienation.