Thursday, August 30, 2007

Three deaths and a funeral

Tuesday was not a good day- three deaths and all known to me via the Lib Dems. So today I found myself at the funeral of Christine Harvey, mother of colleague Nick Harvey.

Much to my surprise the Romsey by election received a mention. If I tell you that Nick mentioned that his mother had things in common with Hyacinth Bucket this tells you that she could be quite an imposing lady. During the by election she had come along to watch a Lib Dem event which a couple of young Tories tried to interrupt (rather rudely I may add!). She ripped off her yellow rosette, marched up to the young men (brandishing her handbag) and loudly informed them that if that was the way they behaved she most certainly wasn't going to vote Conservative! Th young men fled and Christine was quite surprised to discover later that she was the star of the local evening news....

It is a story that I will remember fondly but what was also clear from today was that the thing that was most remembered about her was her kindness.

Facebook upsets me

Most people know that Facebook is a social networking tool used by the young but some of us oldies are getting in on the act.
My offspring were deeply suspicious of my foray into Facebook but at least they both agreed to be my "friends".

It has been nice to say hi to old friends but I hadn't prepared for the emotional roller coaster.

It was great to see that Ros and Mark had become engaged but this was rapidly followed by the news that Jeremy Browne is no longer married... This news was accompanied by a little pink heart icon. Surely it should have been a broken heart?

This was hotly followed by news from a friend that his wife had left him. I recall attending their wedding shortly after being elected.

It hasn't quite got to the stage where I am avoiding Facebook but it is amazing how much of people's lives is laid bare.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Today I'm not happy

Dropped again! This has happened to me the last three times I've been lined up to go on the programme. OK so I know that I am not the Queen Bee and the nation is not hanging on my every word (they don't get a chance!!) and I will concede that when the researcher rang up to ask me on the programme I was surprised that the alcohol stories still had legs - but it is August and news is obviously a little thin on the ground.

It's not a big deal in the grand scale of things but I am one of those people who, if they _have_ to be awake at a certain time, keeps waking up through the night and mentally running through what I am going to say.

A number of my colleagues have also complained about something similar lately. I guess that is the nature of a live news programme but it doesn't get the day off to a good start.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


The comments of the Chief Constable following the death in Warrington have been attracting a lot of comment.
I recently had a 10 minute rule bill slot and used it to moot the idea of an Alcohol(Harm Reduction) Bill. My motivation was the increase in alcohol related antisocial behaviour - combined with concerns about some of the stats on liver disease and alcohol related admissions to A nd E.
My speech acknowledged that the problem was made all the more difficult by the fact that research shows that those who drink small amounts of alcohol have better life expectancy than tee-totallers. Drink also oils the wheels at social functions and many people appreciate gping out to try different blends of their favourite tipple.
Needless to say I had my detractors but to my way of thinking the sooner that responsible drinkers join the debate the better. The longer we ignore the problem the harder it will be to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An idea for Alan Johnson?

Just back from Taiwan and as part of the visit had asked to meet the health minister. Prior to his entrance we were shown a promo video- including clips of some of the things that had been done to try and get over some of the public health messages.

They start young in Taiwan and one of the more startling sights was the spectacleof the health Minister dressed in superhero oufit and leaping on to the stage to address a crowded hall full of school kids.

I pondered on whether we should be copying this somewhat startling initiative in the UK. With the new health team could we look forward to the spectacle of Dawn P decked out as Wonderwoman, Alan JOhnson as Superman or Ben Bradshaw as a boy Robin? Only time will tell but you heard the idea here first.....

I've missed this

It's over 18 months since I posted a blog. I've missed it but sometimes it is useful to step back and reflect. I had always wanted to start blogging again but the fact is that being a few grand poorer because of legal action makes one cautious. So, as much as my inner liberal wants to allow free debate my wallet cannot risk it. I am happy to stand by anything I say but I am not going to be responsible for the musings of third parties.

Am happy to engage in debate with anyone but it will have to be by direct e mail to

Am also now on facebook and pondering on why so many people seem moved to comment on the beautiful game.