Dear constituents of mine,
I have had a most hectic weekend.
You'll all be pleased to hear I made it to Barcelona and back although the BA flight out was delayed. What a nightmare. We really should bring it back into public ownership. The champagne was dreadful. I'll speak to Vince about it.
I mentioned in my last piece that I was only there for a quick check on the state of the Euro and the Spanish economy but my feet had barely touched the ground in Barcelona before I was whisked away. A couple of business sorts without ties (apparently from the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce) had been asked by the Spanish Prime Minister to meet me.
Anthea (my PA) had worked wonders by email and they assumed I was already the Minister. This was a little premature, but Anthea and I had been expecting the reshuffle.
However, I admit it was a mite embarrassing to arrive ostensibly as a Minister with a large wet patch on my trousers where I'd spilt the champagne (I had felt a sudden turbulence over the Pyrenees). As a distraction from this nuisance I tried pointing out their own shortcomings - open necked shirts and lack of ties. They claimed it was because it was a lot warmer in Barcelona than London although I had no evidence of this. All I could feel was an icy blast coming from the dashboard of the Seat where the heating normally comes from. First mistake - they should have picked me up in a British car.
But let me give you my impressions of Spain as I fully understand your need to understand the progress I am making to improve your lives, however small. As you know I always endeavour to give it to you straight from the horse's mouth. Indeed, I am your rampant stallion from the stable that is the centre of Government.
Well, my first impression from the back seat of the Seat was the length of queues at the banks. With the two chaps without ties sitting in the front jabbering away in foreign there was plenty of time for me to ignore them and watch the world go by. We never get queues like that in Krupton.
Sorting out our local banks was one of my first tasks when you elected me. I remember calling in the morning after the election and demanding to see the Branch manager. He wasn't in but they said they'd pass my demands up the line.
But one bank queue stretched right around the corner and merged with a queue for another bank. I leaned over and congratulated the chaps without ties. "Frank", I said which was what I think he said his name was, "After all the EU money that has been pumped into Spain over the years it's now possible to see how this has finally benefitted the ordinary Spanish citizen . Back home in Krupton you're lucky to see someone extracting twenty quid from the ATM let alone going in and coming out with bundles of notes. How good it was to see a consumer led economy in action."
But I could see my comments about Krupton had shocked him. He leaned over the seat and said something about "kidding".
I hope you now see why I continue to sit firmly on the fence on political matters such as when that constituent wrote to the Krupton News recently asking for my opinion on a referendum on continued membership of the EU. Sitting on fences, watching which way the wind is blowing and keeping options open is what you elected me to do. One of my election slogans was "You know where you stand with Quentin Kelp."
And do you remember me recalling Churchill's famous words about the 'wind of change'?
"Where there's wind there's always a whiff of uncertainty" I said at the time.
After The Sun picked that up with its own version, Krupton hit the headlines and, finally, Krupton became the centre of attention. That is why you elected me - for profile and national recognition.
Anyway, next we drove out of town past rows and rows of new apartments. Constituents of mine - we've got nothing like that in Krupton and I'll probably change my slogan to "Build our Economy by Building". In Krupton, I've been trying to loosen local planning controls for years but, in Spain, they have already succeeded. All they need now are the tenants. And that's the other great advantage of their system. Once all their new factories start up there will be no shortage of living accommodation for the workers.
After that it was lunchtime and a pleasant relief from trying to make out what these two chaps were saying in their rotten English. I tried speaking to them louder to make myself understood but it made no difference. My other slogan will be "English for all." It's the only way towards better diplomatic relations. If these foreigners can't understand us better they'll always be at a distinct disadvantage.
By the way, they gave me a glass of some strange foreign drink tasting of liquorice but, after trying a few, I said I preferred gin and tonic with ice and slices of lime. They actually had Gordon's so I was, for the first time, impressed.
I watched the seagulls for a while and then it was down to hard business. The fish was quite nice but the pudding a bit sweet for my liking. Despite that, they seemed determined to make me enjoy their local wine and I felt very relaxed.
As I said to them when they dropped me at the Sheraton Hotel after lunch, not only was the Euro working well for them but their contribution to international language was infamous. They clearly still didn't understand my English humour so I enlightened them. "It's time for my Spanish siesta" I laughed.
I said I'd be fine on my own for the rest of my stay as I had some research to do. Then they got back into the Seat and disappeared.
I arrived back at Heathrow this morning but without my tie - it's the Spanish custom. I was a day late but that was BA's fault again. The print on my ticket was so small and blurred I wasn't able to read the departure time. I'll speak to Vince.