Hire Fitness & the Houses of Parliament
A Day in the Life of Hire Fitness & the Houses of Parliament
When the office asks you to provide them with a copy of your drivers licence and counterpart for an upcoming job, I tend to find my interest pique, and immediately question the details of the impending task ahead. This is then magnified when you’re told the order has been made a few months in advance, so you know you’re dealing with something a little bit different from your normal run of the mill installation. On this occasion we were tasked with delivering two running machines to the Houses of Parliament, something which both excited me, and filled me with a slight sense of trepidation. You could just imagine the amount of security detail involved, logistical wrangling, and promptness. But then again it’s not too often you’re offered the chance to enter the halls of government.
Doing the delivery was myself, and my colleague Michael, with David in the office liaising with the charity organisation for whom the kit was intended. In the weeks leading up to the job David had established where we needed to go, what time we needed to arrive, and the rest of the smaller details. Our first stop on the day of delivery was to head to a security depot in West London. This would be where our van was going to be scrutinised and searched prior to our arrival at Parliament. We pulled up to the gates of the intimidating structure where we were met by a security guard carrying a clipboard, my favourite type. David had given us a code number that we were to provide on arrival so they could check it against their job manifesto. I gave them the code and everything seemed fine. But to our surprise he then asked for a second code. Slightly baffled, we asked what this code was for. Apparently the security codes were not for the job, but instead assigned to the people carrying out the job, which basically meant I had clearance, and Michael didn’t.
A quick call back to David at the office confirmed that the organisation hiring the equipment had only detailed the need for one code, but by this point it no longer mattered as we were told straight up that the code had now expired and we would have to leave and return with a new set of numbers. Frustrated, we drove away and began liaising with the office and the company responsible with getting us clearance. 15 minutes later, we had our codes, only this time we were successful and were told to proceed into compound.
Once inside we were directed to drive into “Shed 1.” This basically consisted of two very thick and very high walls either side, and a trough running underneath down the centre of the track. Security men armed with detectors and long handled mirrors swarmed the van, followed by a burly gentleman and his trusty sniffer dog. They set to our van with efficiency, and within minutes we were given the all clear to proceed to our next obstacle. Another member of security greeted us at the next checkpoint armed with a satnav, and what looked like the briefcase kept atDowning Street that they arm the nuclear missiles with, it was a tracking device. Our instructions were simple; follow the route on the satnav, don’t deviate from the course, and don’t touch the red button protruding from the tracking device unless we liked the idea of a full on police assault. Having been delayed somewhat already, we began the 30 minute odd journey to Parliament.
Now I spend most of my day driving round London, and I feel I’m pretty good at navigating my way from point A, through to point B for each job. A cursory glance at the satnav now and then is usually all I need to get me around, but in this instance I don’t believe I have ever paid a robotic woman’s voice any more attention. It was quite stressful navigating traffic, making sure you’re in the right lane, knowing full well that if you go off course, the Mets finest armed officers would be bearing down on you. But 10 minutes in, so far so good. That was until the satnav switched itself off just as we were approaching a roundabout. With Michael attempting to reboot the thing, and me circling the roundabout until we gained signal, tensions were a little high. The signal finally did return, but at this point we had received a call to return back to the depot. Unfortunately the satnav going down had given them the impression we were tampering with the equipment, so we had to turn around and start the whole procedure again. New codes, another search, new satnav and a new tracking device. Security found the whole thing hilarious, I can assure you it was anything but fun.
After all the messing around we finally arrived at Parliament. Greeted by armed police, we were ushered inside the grounds and pointed in the direction of what appeared to be a tunnel running right through the middle of the building. It barely gave us enough room to drive down, and I was very aware that knocking into anything meant damaging a very old structure. About halfway down we were greeted by the charity team who led us through a small maze of corridors and rooms to an annex on the south side overlooking the Thames. We had made it just in time, despite all the delays, and managed to slip out before all the dignitaries arrived. We weren’t allowed to stay on the premises for obvious reasons, but returned later to pick up the kit, but not before being treated to parliamentary cream scones and cucumber sandwiches, how very English.
Despite the setbacks, the hassle of the security procedures, and the tense drive, I very much enjoyed our day at Parliament, and would never hesitate to take on another job that put me in a position that so few can say they have been in. On the way out we managed to snap a shot of the clock tower from within, a unique trophy to remember the day by.