I have had a most hectic week so far and Anthea has now gone down with the flu, or she claims she has. Women have no staying power - the slightest little thing and they give up.
I, on the other hand, stayed up late on Monday night reading about waste management and recycling in readiness for a top level meeting yesterday with DEFRA. Being DEFRA I knew to expect dreary, mixed messages, lists of forms for downloading and figures on the power-point showing costs that ran into millions. But a committed MP has to do what is expected of him.
That DEFRA stuff needed some very serious concentration and I first dropped off at 11.30 having understood only one thing - the mentality of fly tippers.
When I woke again at 2.30 Alan Carr was still chatting.
Thinking back, I'd actually learned a lot more about recycling from my nine year old son Hector - he's definitely going to Krupton High School by the way.
Hector had recently had some school homework that required him to separate stuff from our waste bin into piles. He then had to write it all in his exercise book in two columns - things for recycling and things for landfill. Hector is very well organised.
However, I was obliged to stick a note on his homework afterwards for the benefit of his teacher.
I addressed it to, "whichever teacher it may concern," as I wasn't sure whether household recycling came under Physics, Chemistry or Biology.
"Please note," I wrote:
(a) What goes in our garbage bin is private - I am, after all, your MP.
(b) That we are in the habit of consuming Coco Pops in some quantity should not be taken as an admittance of a poor diet. We also eat liver and onions on occasions hence my son's description of one item as "unrecognisable".
(c) That he also categorised something as "medical" refers to the recent stubbing of my toe on the bed and the cold compress and sticking plaster that I applied to it.
(d) The category "of human origin" was given to that part of my big toenail that became dislodged at the same time as above.
(e) The item referred to as "bag", was nothing of the sort. This was, in fact, a receptacle that contained a variety of objects from the vacuum cleaner amongst which, on sorting, Hector discovered one of his baby teeth that must have fallen out and rolled under his bed some years ago. I will be discussing this with the cleaner. Meanwhile, Hector advises me that I still owe him sixpence.
(f) Other items that came out of our bin last night were, however, a disgrace.
I had no idea Hector read such stuff, let alone printed it off his computer. As you know, Hector has an energetic and enquiring mind, way in advance of his tender years. He intends to go into the medical profession in due course but I see no harm in starting lessons in gynaecology sooner rather than later.
(g) Health & Safety might be everywhere in school but, in future, please equip Hector with rubber gloves and precede future lessons on domestic recycling with instructions on personal hygiene. This may appear unconnected but I understand from his irate mother that Hector went to school the other morning with a sheet of used toilet paper still dangling from his underwear. This only became apparent as he was changing into his whites with the rest of the school cricket eleven. Is it any wonder he sometimes gets bullied about his father being a Member of Parliament.
(h) Despite the above, please note that I expect Hector to receive maximum points for this excellent piece of time consuming homework although, as you well know, his place at Krupton High (and most probably Oxford) is already assured.
But, constituents, I definitely learned more reading Hector's homework than from that mammoth DEFRA document.
Did you know that Krupton Council refuses to allow pizza boxes in their recycling bins as there's always too much molten cheese stuck to the lids? I'll be starting a campaign soon to stop these youngsters wasting food. If they can't finish it all it proves they weren't hungry to start with. The same applies to yoghurt pots. What's wrong with licking them clean? Or is it now regarded as an embarrassing sign that you must be getting free school lunches and are still hungry?
And the Council apparently won't recycle carrier bags, cling film, polystyrene, large plastic items, plastic toys, crisp packets and plastic wrapping such as cereal packets. But they will accept big plastic bottles if washed clean and with their caps off.
So you can see that Hector's list of what was in our bin was a little unbalanced.
It ran to three pages for non-recyclables and had one item in the recyclable list - a plastic milk bottle that had lost its lid, got crushed under the front wheel of my car and was then left out in the rain.
So I was very well briefed before I went to that committee meeting yesterday. The man from DEFRA gave a very detailed review of progress on the Government's Waste Policy. I sat right at the back.
From that position, it is very convenient for keeping an eye on the Blackberry. Anthea emailed me eight times about her condition and my colleague Milton Mancini was sat next to me. He was also on his Blackberry.
By the way, Milton is MP for Pipstock and a very good friend of mine. He's of Italian stock, a spokesman on Italian affairs and so he holidays in Sicily for a large part of the year.
Milton spent most of the DEFRA meeting jabbering away in Italian to a banker friend of his in Naples. Milton said afterwards that he's now sorted out Italy's problem with the Euro so now it's just the other 22 left.
Milton likes pizza as well but not out of a cardboard box.