Sunday, May 29, 2005

Patsy Calton

Very upset this afternoon to be paged with the news that Patsy Calton had died. In my heart of hearts the news was unsurprising but none of us ever wants to believe the worst. Prior to this week's swearing in I had not seen Patsy since the "new intake" dinner in December 2004 (I am an honorary member of the 2001 intake).

Patsy was a feisty lady. She was energetic and principled but above anything else I shall remember her tremendous sense of fun. When first entering parliament she was "Mrs Angry" but this all changed when her husband, Clive, started work as her researcher. Almost overnight she became more settled and focussed on her constituency and much much happier. Wednesday nights were reserved for "friends" and it was not uncommon to have a drink or two in the Pujin room, meet in Members Dining room or generally do something relatively relaxed.

The sad thing is that none of us were really told how ill she was. Looking back I wonder if Patsy really knew that the writing was on the wall. There was a moment in the last parliament when she was having chemo and had taken to wearing a hat. One of the cancer charities had persuaded Labour female parliamentarians to wear hats to highlight the charity (I think it coincided with Ladies Day at Ascot or some such thing) and Patsy was very upset. She was wearing a hat at the time to hide her lack of hair. Patsy promptly took her hat off - thus highlighting the reason why women wear hats and summing up why the cancer charities "campaign" was so poorly though through.

Ultimately though - all of this pales into insignificance. My thoughts are with Clive and family and the bottom line is that Patsy will be missed by many.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Chandler's Ford

Matters relating to this part of the constituency were on the agenda when I met with the Chief Exec of Eastleigh Borough Council and Andy Milner (neighbourhood co-ordinator) this afternoon.
As well as discussing some local initiatives and planning applications we chatted about the admin of the elections, the Beatrice Royal Gallery and facilities for older people.

Silver surfers

Local initiative to encourage older people to use the internet so went along to see how it was going.
Was surprised to find a predominately female group and most had been prompted to come along because "the family have a spare computer". Good initiative and nearly everyone I spoke to said that they had really enjoyed themsleves and wanted to take things further.


Nice morning at Mottisfont Abbey yesterday - so nice it didn't feel like work. They had decided to invite some "stakeholders" along to talk about what they are doing plus give a quick tour of house and gardens.
Learnt a lot but would advise people to visit in a couple of weeks time when the stunning shrub roses will be at their best.

Also learnt that it is not from to "mention the G word". G stands for Garratt (as in Lesley) as a few years ago the Abbey was the venue for a concert. Concert was enjoyed by approx 10,000 people but the resultant traffic gridlock still lives in people's memory - and some people missed the concert entirely. They have learnt from the experience and now host smaller events which are well appreciated by people locally.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Falling asleep in PMQs

It wasn't that boring - it was predictable but there was the usual rash of light-hearted and silly moments. e.g Michael Howard really shouldn't have asked if an idea was "a goer" because this was the cue for lots of Labour MPs to start waving "bye bye" at him.

My eye was caught by a new Labour female MP who was dozing off..... Dozing off during the budget is understandable (almost acceptable) but to see a newly elected MP dozing during what is supposedly the highlight of the parliamentary week... I am lost for words

Most MPs have scrabbled and battled and worked hard to arrive in this place and I wonder what must have happened to the poor woman for her to have lost her zest so soon.

Comments are back - and it's "No bitchin"

I miss the comments so I will allow them again - but I am going to introduce some rules. Personal comments directed against anybody (even me) will be removed as soon as I see them but comments on policy etc or points of information are more than welcome.

I don't like censorship but I will try and be as relaxed as possible....

Eight pretty Ministers sitting in a row

This happened yesterday and only one of them was male! But let's not get too excited because the subjects being debated were health and education. I will get excited when I see the same line up and the subjects under discussion are treasury and the DTI.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Patsy swearing in

We were paged to be told that Patsy Calton was swearing in at 3:30. Went along as also wanted to sit on on the early speeches in the Health and Education debate.

I knew that Pats had been ill and I knew what the problem was and in my heart of hearts I knew that she would probably, physically, be showing the effects of that illness. Theory is one thing but the reality was heartbreaking and a number of us were trying hard to maintain some sense of composure - not least John Barrett and Annette Brooke who are two of Patsy's closest friends in this place.

Patsy was pleased to have made the effort and insisted on tea in the Pujin Room afterwards. I am sure that everyone in the place is wishing Patsy all the best but having known her for four years the one thing I do know is that Patsy is a fighter. The other thing that is clear is that we are all willing her on and hope that she soon makes a full recovery.

A new broom at Works and Pensions

David Laws has started off by arranging team meetings for 8:30 in the morning which is practically unheard of. He has a point though as there are unlikely to be many diary clashes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Parliamentary & Scientific Committee 2

First meeting of the new parliament was on the subject of ageing and fascinating it was too. Unfortunately I was too late to make the AGM but apparently Evan Harris took along his wooden spoon and asked why none of the speakers over the past year had been female! Discuss.

The after discussion dinner was also very lively and it is clear that not enough time or energy is being given to understanding the problems of an ageing population (healthy or otherwise).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Anthony Nolan Trust walk

Had been contacted by Dave Hartley during the election (father of the four boys and husband to Allison) and invited to go along. Told him that I would attend "whatever the outcome"

The 4 mile walk was at Broadlands and Sally Taylor had agreed to go along and take part. Pleasant atmosphere and the weather held. Wish I had worn my pedometer to find out how many steps 4 miles is but had decided to leave the trekking poles and walking boots at home. Others happened but my comfy boots were fine. Interesting chats with people on the way rounf but the most fascinating was with a lady from Totton who heard me querying what "Girl Tours" were. This is a group of women who are friends and get together socially but the interesting bit was that she had provided a bone marrow sample quite a few years ago. She had forgotten that she had done so until she was called up recently as she was a match for a young person in Holland. She ended up donating some of her bone marrow and regards it as a really positive experience.

At times such as today you realise that the world is actually full of very nice people.

Another thank you party

This time for some local deliverers and arranged by the co-ordinators. Not the greatest percentage turnout but nice to have a chat with those who turned up.

Fair votes

Lying in bed this morning listening to Radio 4 and heard the dulcet sounds of Lembit pontificating on fair voting systems.

"Predictable!" says I, "Bet he is really talking about the Eurovision Song Contest"

This proved to be the case (rather than PR) so husband is trying to decide whether I am psychic or too clever by half. I suspect the reality is that I have just been around politicians for far too long.

Eurovision Song Contest

Spent a Sat evening doing what a large proportion of the population were doing - watching the Eurovision song contest (while I tried to complete the Indy's super sudoku - but not sure that this part is mainstream).
The only reason this is worth watching is to listen to the Wogan commentary but am wondering whether even he is finding it difficult to create entertainment out of complete mediocrity. Last year's poor performance was blamed on our stance on Iraq but what about this year? Have we really got so few friends or is British music in a different league?

Gone are the days of Norway persistently scoring "null points". Today the Scandinavians vote for fellow Scandinavians. Ditto Eastern accession countries. Even Greece and Cyprus seem to have patched things up and vote for each other and I am left wondering where that leaves poor old Britain.

The real enigma is Israel. I know they have been performing in the contest since I was at school and even then I wondered why they were considered part of Europe. Please e-mail me if anyone can explain this but I was left wondering whether there would eventually be a need to invite Palestine. There have been stranger ways of trying to create international unity.

Surgery frustrations

Surgery in Bassett. This is the second surgery in less than a week as am trying to clear the backlog that has built up through not having surgeries during the election (although I dealt with matters that people wrote in about).

I have surgeries that are pre-booked. This is so that people can send papers in advance, I can (hopefully) read them and then I can have up to fifteen minutes of reasonably productive and focussed dialogue. That is the theory and it usually works well but on Saturday two people did not turn up which is really frustrating when you realise that you could be doing something else.
The really worrying thing is that Saints aren't even playing!

Thank you - not exactly a Gwyneth Paltrow moment

On Friday night we had a hastily arranged thank you party for all those who had contributed to the election campaign in some way. People of all ages and from all parts of the constituency turned up and everyone mixed very well. We had promised to keep the speeches brief and succeeded (nothing tired and emotional) but a lot of people seemed very keen to remain involved with any thing we had planned for the future.


Quick dash from Youth in Romsey to the AGM of the local Carers Forum. I arrived late (occupational hazard) butwas happy to sit at the back and listen but unfortunately some people had seen me arrive and had complained to the organisers that I was not welcomed along with the assorted mayors. This did not bother me in the least as I had gone along to listen but some people get very exercised by these things.
Interesting to hear about the groups activities but more interesting still was the presentation on the reconfiguration of local surgical services. Presenter kept painstakingly pointing out that "nothing was yet decided" and stresing the future public consultation but this jarred with the constant emphasis that various surgical teams were supporting elements of the plan.

If the final plan is very much different to what we saw on Friday then I will don a saucy nurses uniform for PMQs (not that I know where to obtain such a thing). Believe me - this is not an incentive to change the future of surgical services so I believe I am very unlikely to have to fulfil what may seem like a bizarre promise. By the way - I am not a betting woman.

Youth in Romsey

Quick meeting on Friday to discuss possible ways to interact with the Youth in Romsey project and the Town Youth Council. The good news is that for the first time in years there is a youth council that is evenly balanced between the two Romsey schools. There is a lot of enthusiasm that wants to build on the "Speak out and be heard" event that was held during the election campaign.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Four maidens

Thought I ought to put in some "duty time" on the green benches and when I realised that we had four new Members hoping to make maiden speeches in a sparsely populated chamber it seemed as good a time as any.
David Howarth was the first to rise to his feet and delivered a confident speech which seemed to have the right balance of politics and constituency interest. You learn something every day and I hadn't appreciated that Oliver Cromwell had once represented Cambridge.

An interminable wait before we got to Julia Goldsworthy who resisted (wisely in my book) the temptation to mention every village in her constituency but told us that the family Sunday lunch was proving to be far more arduous and challenging (politically) than her advice surgeries.

Then straight into Danny Alexander - a fellow redhead and one of our younger MPs. He sounded very confident but must have been a little nervous as he was moving around quite a bit ( habit I sometimes have and is not at all uncommon). On occasions such as this it is difficult to think of a way to draw the speaker's attention to the movement. I fleetingly considered grabbing his leg but easily resisted the temptation - he would not have realised why I was acting in such unseemly fashion and would probably been frightened to death to be molested by a "middle aged woman" (to quote one of my campaign team). He made a nice point about problems with second homes in a humorous way and came across very well.

This was all swiftly followed by John Hemming who used the unusual device of relating the Birmingham version of Monopoly to the more widely known one, commented on his Viking roots (I thought all vikings had red hair??) and quoted from Beowulf.

It was all entertaining stuff and certainly bore testament to the fact that "you learn something new every day"

Older People and Depression

Off to the Community Care Live event to speak on the above subject. Hadn't appreciated the scale of the event and the fact that there were a number of competing sessions so expected to be talking to three men and a dog so was pleasantly surprised that there was quite a large audience.

Was quite pleased that "the experts" from the Mental Health Alliance and Help the Aged and myself were broadly in agreement on a number of key issues.

Some interesting questions afterwards but there is always one that is completely unrelated so I was quite taken aback when one member of the audience commented on the Lib Dem proposal for free personal care (in a context completely unrelated to depression) and muttered that it was unaffordable!

A Labour party activist perhaps?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Care Homes and Cuppas

There is an interesting story about the Care Home Sector today as a result of the OFT report. We have been watching the coverage on Sky but I was just a little perturbed that the channel seemed more interested in whether Britons are still drinking cups of tea.

Sometimes I wonder if the world has gone mad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Response to the Queens Speech

This is the running order

Speaker rambles on a bit with things that must be said
Long serving back bencher speaks - refers to constituency and tries to be funny
Relatively new backbencher does same
Leader of Opposition
Prime Minister
Leader of Liberal Democrats
Who cares......

Kevin Barron opened but the House slightly llost patience with him when he rambled on a little too much about the constituency and was overly sycophantic. A pity but it is always difficult to judge these things.

Vera Baird opened well and with good use of humour and was typically feisty (what else do you expect from a red head) but blew it when she was too nasty to the Tories - a real shame because I am a great admirer of hers and would like to see her in a ministerial position but I suspect they are all a little nervous of her.

Other speeches were much as expected but as the Speaker had earlier commented about trying to avoid pettiness and personal attacks I think he must have been a littl disappointed with the thrust of some of the speeches.

Queens Speech

Security around the State Opening of Parliament gets tighter this year and this morning it was particularly frustrating when the 24 bus was put on divert - meaning I had to lug a heavy bag some distance. Was amazed to find that there were still some reasonable seats available when I went along to reserve my seat for later in the day.

At 11.25 we assembled for prayers (and to confirm our reserved seats) and awaited the summons from Black Rod. On these occasions Dennis Skinner always has something to say and this year was no exception. As Black Rod prepared to exit from the Chamber Skinner's growled comment was "Has she brought Camilla along?" Not particularly funny but we all laughed because that has become part of the tradition too.

There is then a slightly unseemly scramble for position as we troop along to the House of Lords and I was reasonably well placed this year and managed to beat the crowd of MPs who try and cut in. This meant I had an exceptional view of the proceedings in the House of Lords. It is always a spectacular sight but this year I had the benefit of standing next to John Thurso who has the unusual distinction of once having had a place in the House of Lords. I had always wondered about the dress code for wives (a bit OTT and lots of diamonds) and e informed me that it was "full evening dress" he helpfully added "so they should all be wearing tiaras"


The Speech itself rarely holds any surprises so, I hate to admit it, that ones attention wanders slightly. I found myself contemplating the dress code for husbands of baronesses (I didn't spot any) and wondering why Baroness Amos was standing throughout the proceedings holding what looked like an "ecky thump" hat on a stick. But when push comes to shove it is all pretty wonderful and something worth keeping.

After the speech I found myslef returning to the Commons alongside Don Foster, Susan Kramer and Jo Swinson (youngest MP). Tiaras dominated the conversation. Susan Kramer commented that she "now understood jewels" and I helpfully imparted my newly learnt information about the dress code and tiaras. Jo Swinson commented "Oh, I though it was just a bit of a trend". Don Foster pretended to explode with mock indignation pointing out that Westminster doesn't "do" "a bit of a trend"

New boys and girls

There are four new MPs who are already high profile in some regard. Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg have both been MEPs and Lynne Featherstone and Susan Kramer have both been high profile on a London basis. All are ones to watch but it is interesting to note that the boys have been singled out for preferment already. It could be argued that the European Parliament has more kudos than the GLA (discuss) but I would hazard a guess that Susan Kramer has appeared on Question Time more than the others put together.

That said - this new intake has a number of people who are "ones to watch"

Shuffling about

The details of the reshuffle are now common knowledge. If I were an "on message" party sycophant I would now go on at length about how this reshuffle is the best thing since sliced bread and how every single appointment is inspired. The truth is that you would not believe me and everyone has their own idea of what a "fantasy shadow cabinet" would be.

On a personal level I have made no secret of the fact that I would like a new challenge but, realistically, with a majority of 125 it makes sense to stick to something I know and not have a steep learning curve to contend with. The job I would really have loved is the health portfolio but it is a huge time commitment and I am delighted that Steve Webb has been given the role. He has done a good job at Work and Pensions but that is his area of expertise so it will be really interesting to see what he makes of the Health portfolio but I wish him luck.

The rest of it is interesting but the "code of collective responsibility" prevents me from saying anything very much. Just to be a little enigmatic I will admit to raised eyebrows at a small number of the appointments but I will leave it for you to figure out what those might be.

TVBC Standards committee

Intriguing news is that all of the lay people have resigned en masse from this committee. The allegations appear to be that TVBC does not take the subject of standards in public life very seriously and that suggestions and letters by lay members have not been acted upon.

Odd really because I would have thought that any council of any political colour would want to be doing all they can to ensure the highest standards of behaviour and probity.

A bit of a do

For the last few weeks Sunday evenings have been the time when a group of key people got together to organise the campaign. We all got together again on Sunday but this time it was for drink, food and chat. Everyone very keen to start planning the next campaign and it was difficult to get people to stop talking shop.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Swearing in

Usually takes days but the new Serjeant at Arms and his staff really got a production line going and it was mostly finished within the day. We are supposed to swear in in order of "seniority". Once the Cabinet, Shadow Cabinet and Ministers have done their stuff it is all supposed to be on a "time served" basis. It is always interesting to watch ego at work on these occasions. One Blair Babe was keen to go to the front of the queue becaue she was 97 intake but thought twice when she realised that Hazel Blears (a Minister - who could more legitimately have jumped the queue) was waiting patiently in turn.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lembit's wedding

We were teasing him about whether he had lined up the Hello coverage. Many a true word spoken in jest and he mentioned the names of some people who would be receiving an invitation because "Hello wanted a few more celebrities" - he then hastily pointed out that they were all friends any way.
As someone pointed out "it's bad enough feeling obliged to invite Uncle Jack and assorted relatives without having to worry about the guest list even more" and it did strike me that the hassle didn't seem worth it.

What we didn't find out was whether Lembit and Sian had been invited to launch a new chocolate bar on the day.

Dining with friends

It used to be almost a tradition that as many people as possible ate together, in Members Dining Room, after the Wednesday evening parliamentary party meeting. Although it was before my time I am told that it was almost a three line whip when Paddy Ashdown led the party - it was useful to know what was going on and it was a useful opportunity to lobby Paddy.

The tradition has gone into something of a decline in recent years due to a combination of an earlier finish and the absence of the leader. So, last night it was good to see at least half the parliamentary party in the Dining Room and that we took up four tables. I don't expect that this will last but it was a useful way of getting to know some of the new intake.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The next four years

Could have shot the person on Thursday night/Friday morning who cheerfully suggested that I would be OK whatever happened because "they'd probably want me in the House of Lords" - not what I wanted to be hearing at all.

Since the result was announced I have had one moment of weakness. Feeling shattered after four weeks of an election campaign (plus all that led up to it) I contemplated making an early decision to stand down, spending my days topping up the tan (what tan?) with a bit of light election monitoring in sunny climates and enjoying myself for four years.

A night sleep and I realised that that isn't me at all so it looks like I might be doing things the hard way and slogging at it for the next few years. The words of a certain Peter Mandelson come to mind,

"I'm a fighter not a quitter"

This will probably be the only time I ever quote him.

Speaker remains Speaker

The main business today was to elect a Speaker of the House of Commons. We were not expecting any surprises but it was good to see the House of Commons Chamber full to bursting. With more Lib Dems and more Tories there is now likely to be a bit of a scrabble for seats on key occasions. In the past "the Nats" as we refer to them have always sat in the third row but now that there are more of us then it would make sense for us to sit in a block but no one wants to seem mean and try to push them back.

Can't see that it matters really as long as we all get a place but some people take the symbolism of these things very seriously.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tales from the tearoom

Went there for lunch and was horrified that the Tories were occupying three tables! They are so loud but there was quite a funny moment when Nick Winterton was introducing one of their new MPs and reassured him that "anything you say will be within these four walls unless you come across Giles Brandreth in which case you will be in a book"

Or Romseyredhead decides to blog perhaps?

Come and celebrate - oh and the drinks are on you

After the parliamentary party meeting we all trooped off to the Commonwealth Club for what was billed as a celebratory reception. We were all somewhat surprised that there was a cash bar! Now, I know that we have just fought an election and the coffers are low but the least we could have done was ensured that each of our new colleagues had at least one free drink. Many of them have given up their jobs to fight the election and are pretty broke so this did seem just a little mean-spirited.

We quickly set up an alternative celebration as we trooped to Pizza Express where the drinks are a bit cheaper...

I'm Back......

Back at Westminster for last night's Parliamentary Party/photocall. Great to see an enlarged parliamentary party and even better to see a good proportion of women in the new intake. Charles was on exceptionally good form and the only sadness was that we were not joined by a handful of good colleagues.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Returned with a majority of 125 which may well be one of the smallest in the country. It's always nice to be number one but I had something in mind other than number one target seat.

Although canvass returns looked good I knew that it was going to be tight when we realised that there were a lot of Tory activists from out of the area. Had not appreciated how tight and when agent rang me we thought I had lost so I arrived at the count feeling rather despondent. Three recounts later and that was it but I really would have preferred not to have quite such a close result.....

Sadness was that although we have gains some friends have lost seats (Sue Doughty in Guildford and David Rendel in Newbury in particular) and some people did not quite make it who I expected to be there. A rollercoaster ride.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Longest Day

That's what the Times called it and they were spot on. This is the third time for parliament and it certainly doesn't get any easier. Up at dawn to deliver some early morning leaflets (wasn't sleeping anyway) and desperately trying to keep busy. As someone said to me on the phone yesterday , "Not many people would like a job where their job was on the line every few years."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Mirror also says vote Lib Dem!

Unusual for the Mail and the Mirror to be much in agreement on anything!

The Mail says vote Lib Dem!

Well, this is a turn up for the books.
Forced myself to spend 40p on a copy this morning because I was aware that there was a guide to tactical voting. Was amazed to read Edward Heathcoat Amory saying "in the seven seats where the Liberals are best placed, Tory voters should back Charles Kennedy".
Interestingly there was no advice about what to do in Lib Dem held seats with a Tory challenge.

DHA had an interesting premise and I quote

"The fact remains that many people, even those who will vote Labour, would like to see Mr Blair's majority dramatically cut. If this were to happen, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats would be revived. An "awkward squad" of Labour backbenchers would keep the Prime Ministers wilder ambitions in check and our democracy would be revived. "

This is the first time I have found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with DHA and it will probably be the last but if there is one thing I am clear about is that a large Government majority - of any colour, is unhealthy. It leads to arrogance and public disengagement. I have seen this under a Conservative government and I am seeing this under a Labour Government. Surely it is time to think more seriously about electoral reform.

Oh - and what the Mail is not saying directly - but comes across loud and clear is that the Tories are nowhere near forming a Government.

Late night phone calls

What nutter is ringing at 11:30 at night thought I as I was trying to make my bleary-eyed way to bed.
None other than Simon Hughes - who keeps stranger hours than I do - who was ringing around wishing people good luck. Nice to be thought of and it seems the party is getting a bit better at keeping in touch with people and generally being a bit more human.

The Christian Vote

Have picked up a few people recently who say that because they are Christians they will be voting Tory (they haven't always been Tory voters) because (or so they reckon) the Tories views are closer to their own.
These matters have previously fallen into the personal conscience camp so this is a worrying development and I sincerely hope that links between politics and religion will not develop along American lines.

The really worrying thing though was that one constituent was convinved that she had got this information via Songs of Praise.

Yikes Aled - get off that soapbox!

Rayner reigns in Romsey

Visit from Clare Rayner who has decided, after fifty years with the Labour Party, that we are now the party she has has most in common with.
This decision ultimately stems from the differences between the parties on the subject of free personal care for the elderly. She was a member of the Sutherland Commission which the Labour Party set up to decide on these issues. The only problem was that Labour ignored the key recommendation of the commission which was that personal care, related to illness, should be free.

We met a group of carers for coffee and had a wide-ranging discussion on a number of issues.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hello Gonzalo

Who is a journalist from Chile and is in the UK courtesy of the British Council to cover the 2005 General Election. For some reason I was asked if I would be one of the MPs participating in the scheme and for some reason I said yes... Was wondering if I had done the right thing but he is here now and is very nice. We dragged him out to Bassett, canvassing this afternoon. Ths sun shone and people were generally very receptive but it can't have been very interesting for him really when he was standing on the pavement watching us trudge up stairs to find no one in.


Irate Tories ringing the office yesterday to complain about what they regard as a "systematic" destruction of their posters. They seemed to regard the fact that lots of ours were torn down overnight as irrelevant. We have asked everyone to leave posters alone but if anyone can throw any light on this matter can they get in touch with the office on 01794 511900 as this did seem to be a little more than the usual drunks on the way home from the pub.

It's All Bollocks

Clearly not everyone is enamoured with the election - or myself! Canvasser came in to the office on Saturday and commented that there had been a man at the end of the lane shouting "It's all bollocks. You tell Sandra Gidley it's all bollocks" from the description it sounded suspiciously as though this was the same man who I had encountered in Woolworths five minutes earlier who had seemed reasonably friendly when I was trying to buy my marmite crisps but then started ranting about all politicians walking around Westminster with their hands behind their backs ready for backhanders.
All part of life's rich tapestry I suppose but I never did work out orecisely what was "all bollocks"

Church Meeting at All Saints

Having been up at 5:30 my energy levels were probably not at their peak. The last time I was at All Saints church it was a celebratory affair and everyone was dressed up as Saints. I have a reaonable memory for faces but not many seemed familiar. As I introduced myself to person after person - who looked blankly at me when I mentioned the Church and whose body language was not the most welcome it dawned on me that the Tories had suggested that the Party Faithful came to the meeting.
If any minds were changed on that evening it was probably to convert Conservative voters to UKIP but suspicions were confirmed during coffee when a member of the regular congregation mentioned how few people she recognised and wondered where they were all from.
Ph well, it keeps them from delivering newsletters!

The last Dawn Chorus

Was up at dawn again on Friday for a Press Conference on Older People. Steve Webb was also there but we both felt a little redundant. Time pressures on Charles (a chance to grace the GMTV sofa if we are honest) meant that the Press Conference had to be very short and we had to forego the statements by Steve and I. It was agreed that we would make ourselves available to talk to journalists afterwards but I got the impression that most journos were feeling a bit tired (just like ourselves really).
Charles seems in very good form and evryone was very complimentary about his performance on Question Time. His pragmatic view was that he was glad he had gone on first as the studio was really hot (and getting hotter by the minute) so even the coolest, unsweatiest character would have been sweating if they had been on last.

more blogs

Came across The awful life of an MPs wife theother day which is written by Linda McDougal - wife of Austin Mitchell.
She paints quite a depressing picture in a way but it made me think about what it is like for MP/candidates husbands. Came to the conclusion that it was probably even worse.

He does not do my ironing but has cooked quite a few meals and kept things going on the domestic front but at least he doesn't feel the need to put on lipstick when he goes tot he post officce.