Street: Heard you’re doing something cool this summer! What are you doing?
PD: I’m interning at the U.K. Parliament for Huw Irranca-Davies, Member of Parliament for Ogmore and Shadow Minister for Food and Farming. I get to go to meetings, conduct research, meet really powerful people, and roam over most of the Parliamentary estate. I'm also taking a class in British Life and Culture at the University of London.
Street: Wow, the U.K. Parliament. What are the chances you can use your government connections to get me an autograph from the queen? PD: (Laughs) Well, when I saw the Queen about 30 feet away from me, she waved and smiled at me. That pretty much means we’re best friends, or at least Snapchat friends. I can totally get you that autograph.
Street: YES. Ok, serious questions now. What exactly do you research? It sounds like your MP works on very specific issues in the U.K. PD: I research things that are in my MP's portfolio: food and farming and rural affairs. It’s really interesting! Specifically, I’ve researched badger culls, TTIP (a new bilateral trade agreement with the US and EU), rural broadband coverage, and animal welfare issues. I also do general policy research on subjects like modern slavery, drug issues, and education. In fact, the last meeting I went to was about the bill on modern slavery.
Street: Have you met any parliamentary big-shots at these meetings? PD: So far, I’ve run into Ed Milliband (Leader of Opposition), Gordon Brown (Former Prime Minister), and John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons). I actually celebrated Independence Day (ours, of course!) at the Speaker’s House, hosted by Bercow. #Amurica. And then there was the time that I was going down the escalator while David Cameron (the current Prime Minister) was going up...so I guess that counts.
Street: What aspects of British life and culture do you study? PD: Overall, the class forces students to critically observe and question life in London. That means tons of field trips! We cover a lot of the history of London and the U.K., and we write papers discussing what we’re learning through our daily lives in London. Since I’ve traveled around the U.K. and Europe as well, I also bring in some perspective from my travels. Learning about the history of London and the “soap opera” story of Monarchies is my favorite part. Especially the civil war between the king and parliament. Things got real! (Laughs)
Street: Where are you staying? PD: I’m living in Central London off of Farringdon Road, which is kind of the city’s Business area. The building I’m in houses 28 other peeps from my program, but specifically I’m in a flat with five guys.
Street: What can you do in Central London? Do you have any favorite spots? PD: I’m pretty sure the better question is “what can’t you do?”... which is get American bacon. Central London is incredible! There is so much to do, from shopping on Oxford Street, visiting Parliament and other historical places in Westminister, going to the aquarium. THERE’S PUBS FOR DAYS! I work in Westminister, which is definitely one of my favorite places. The view itself is breathtaking. The other students and I go to Sir John Castle a lot. It was one of the first places my group and I went to dinner together, so that place holds a special place in our hearts.
Street: You’ve certainly taken advantage of what the city has to offer! (Remind me to get a list of your favorite pubs.) What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in London so far? PD: Damn, so much has happened. Honestly, it’s a three-way tie between hiking through Rhossili Bay with my MP, seeing the Back Street Boys for free, and meeting 3 stars from Game of Thrones.
Street: Okay, wait what!? Each of these needs its own explanation. Let’s start with Rhossili Bay: where is it, and how did you and your MP decide to go hiking there? PD: Rhossili Bay is in Wales, and my MP's constituency, Ogmore, is right by there. My MP took me and another intern to go to Wales and see the constituency, but he also showed us many of the touristy attractions in Wales. One was Rhossili Bay, which has been ranked the 9th best beach in the world! Absolutely amazing. I love Wales. It's so different from anywhere else I've been in the U.K.
Street: Wow. You officially have the best boss ever. Ok, next story – how exactly did you manage to attend a Backstreet Boys concert for free!? PD: (Laughs) So the full story is that one day, as I was just finished getting “lost” in the city, I ran into two of my friends who told me they were going to see the Backstreet Boys… foh FREE. One of my friends, Jane, got an e-mail about going to BSB as part of a mini music festival and she followed up on it. Anyways, about 20 minutes later, I get a text from Jane about what I'm planning on doing later. Naturally, I say, “pshkk nothing really,” and she tells me, “You’re going to BSB.” So... I did. Shout out to Jane for the free tickets!
Street: Seriously, Jane, you rock. And last, but not least, the story that’s about to make all GoT fans seethe with envy. Which stars did you meet, and again, how!? PD: God, this story. So I’m at work, and my friend Libby tells me she has free tickets to see a production of “The Curious Incident of Dog in the Nighttime.” Libby works for a PR company and got free press tickets to the play. I mean, it was for free, so I was like “Heck yeah.” After getting out of work and going home, I get a text from Libby telling me the show is 30 minutes earlier than what she first told me. So I book it to the tube (that’s the subway) and go to the National Theatre... only to discover that the play was being shown at another theatre I had never heard of. Keep in mind that my phone was on 10 percent. So I had a tough decision... to go, or not to go. I said “YOLO” (which is less an acronym for me and more of just a “why not?”) and go find the theatre. After I find my seat and explain to Libby what happened, she tells me, “Well thank God you decided to come. Look who’s here.” I look around, and I think “Oh hey, those people look familiar. Yeah, I definitely know you… HOLY MOTHER OF GAWD IT’S MAISE WILLIAMS! OH MY DAYUM IT’S THE DUDE THAT PLAYS THE CRIPPLED STARK. OH SNAP, IT’S IAIN GLEN! MOMMA WE MADE IT!” After the show, Libby and I casually go over to Maise and Issac (the name of the actor who plays Crippled Stark) and make small talk. I tell them I LOVED the finale and can’t wait for the next season. Iain left early with his wife (they are absolutely adorable together). It was a beautiful night. Shout out to Libby... You Da Real MVP.