BLOG POST: Keir Starmer visit
Photo credit: Colchester Gazette
Blog post by Louise Prior (newest and youngest Red Lion Books Team member).
He arrived around fifteen minutes past eleven. I wasn’t on the top floor when Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, came into Red Lion Books but downstairs organising the TikTok Book Recommendation display. Since our opening that morning at 9 am, this particular store section drew many customers. We had sold ‘Reminders of Him‘ by Colleen Hoover, a cheery sounding book titled ‘They Both Die at the End‘ by Adam Silvera, and a few others from our TikTok shelves, leaving gaps to be filled. I had just whirled around the top floor gathering fillers and disappeared downstairs for a moment. When I came back up, Mr Starmer had arrived.
If you watched the local news, you would have seen a segment about how Mr Starmer visited Colchester Town Centre on April 2nd 2022. It was an opportunity for the Labour Leader and MP of Holborn and St Pancras to see Essex. It was a chance to get to know the area, meet the candidates for the local election, and understand the residents and voters in Colchester. Whilst walking the streets of Britain’s Oldest Town, first referenced by the Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, in AD77, Starmer visited the local independent businesses in the area, including us here at Red Lion Books.
‘This is Louise,’ Margaret introduced me, ‘who also works here.’
Mr Starmer smiles warmly and gives me a cheery hello, offering his hand to shake. Afterwards, he introduced me to Kayleigh Rippingale, the Colchester Labour Party Secretary, and Adam Fox, the Colchester Labour Party Leader. We all say hello, smile and nod before having a quick chat.
‘How long have you been working here?‘ He asks me curiously.
‘I started a few weeks back, March time,‘ I paused and looked at Margaret, attempting to work out the exact time frame. ‘About six weeks,’ I concluded, though still a little unsure – after all, time flies when you’re having fun.
Starmer nods, interested and really listening to me and my story.
‘This must be a great job,’ he chuckles, looking around at the books upon books surrounding us – about 10,000 books were in the shop, Jo told me when I first started.
‘Honestly, I love it,‘ I tell him, ‘it’s a dream for me.’
‘What did you do before this?‘
‘I was at University, getting my degree.‘
He perked up. Education is important.
‘Really? Where did you go?’
‘I went to the Open University,’ I explained, ‘and did a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing.’
He grinned and nodded, recognising the name.
‘My Mum went to the Open University as well.’
‘It’s wonderful, isn’t it?’
‘It really is.’
I didn’t have a chance to stay and talk anymore, as customers were starting to approach the till. When Mr Starmer and Margaret began talking again, I slipped away from them and the cameras to help at the checkout.
Mr Starmer was finishing up. He asked Margaret to say goodbye to me on his behalf as I was preoccupied. I heard his movements and those with him, all of them shuffling to the door, and I looked up, standing on my tiptoes and craning my neck and caught his eye. He gave me a wave.
‘Goodbye,’ he called over to me. I smiled as I waved and called back;