I have had a hectic but very depressing few days that has left me questioning my policy towards a certain subject that I normally try not to contemplate - death.
I'm sorry to sound morbid first thing on a morning but I need to share some most private thoughts with you so please don't forward this email without my permission. I wouldn't want any old Tom, Dick or Harry thinking I had suddenly gone a little soft. But I have had real cause to question my religious beliefs.
Up until the moment I'd finished my third pint in the Red Lion last night I did, in fact, wonder whether I may have chosen the wrong career and that perhaps I should have entered the Church rather than venture into politics.
You see, entering the Church was, in fact, what I did yesterday morning.
This experience had a profound effect on me, albeit it temporary.
Firstly, I found the church smelled different to the train and my London flat.
Krupton Church smelled of Victorian values if I can put it like that. My London flat, on the other hand, smells like Tesco Express or perhaps that's because I carry the smell in with me.
The Tesco express smell conjures up thoughts of a religion vision based on the sound of bar-code bleeps - ie, profits. Victorian smells, on the other hand, conjure a vision of hard work, old mills, heavy engineering, coal miners, black fingernails and Brunel's top hat.
If I appear far too emotional this morning then forgive me, but sadly, one of my constituents, ninety three year old George Watkins passed away last week and I felt it important to attend his funeral.
Co-incidentally old George must have gone about the same moment that I was fighting with that obnoxious and overweight Opposition back bencher, Smut 2, on the floor of Portcullis House. A bright light suddenly went out inside my own head although I soon realised that Smut 2 was lying across me trying to break my neck. I eventually struggled free and, despite his weight, threw him off although I realise now he was in the preliminary stages of a cardiac arrest so wasn't up to much resistance. But, yes, that sudden overwhelming darkness coincided with the passing of poor old George. Was it a sign?
So my post funeral self-analysis in the Red Lion was undertaken - please excuse that word and wait a moment while I find a tissue - and raised many questions, some answers and a number of requests. I would like to record these requests here in case Smut 2 returns and takes another swipe when I'm distracted by the constant demands of Anthea (my PA) on my Blackberry.
My list of requests include:
1. Please do not leave a bunch of flowers where I fell and died on the floor of Portcullis House as security are quite strict about items that have not passed through their X ray machine.
2. If you wish to leave flowers, please put them outside on the Houses of Parliament side of Westminster Bridge.
3. Please tie them securely to the railings so that they are not easily stolen and resold by that florist up near Trafalgar Square as she's a millionaire already.
4. Do not fix any flowers above head height due to the pigeons
5. Do not fix any flowers at ground level either, as the tourists use up every square inch and they'll get trodden on.
6. Do not buy the following flowers for the reasons given:
(a) Pansies for the obvious reason
(b) Poppies as I admit I missed National Service
(c) Wallflowers because I would be embarrassed that passers' by might think I was a retiring sort of person who skulked along back walls like Smut 2
(d) Big white lilies on long stalks as they make me sneeze
(e) Short, white Lilies (of the Valley type) because they remind me of my wedding
(f) Anything pink because I'm a bloke
(g) Anything with thorns or stings
(h) Anything made from paper or plastic or identified as having been made in China.
(i) Anything from Tesco Express
7. The following flowers are acceptable for the reasons given:
(a) Anything from Waitrose because it'll show I was worth spending something above average
(b) Anything red, white or blue because it'll match the flag draped over my coffin
8. Do not leave any teddy bears or other cuddly toys next to the flowers as I still have my teddy bear (Gruff) and nothing can ever replace my Gruff.
9. Do not tell Anthea about Gruff as Gruff sometimes sleeps with me on cold nights or if I'm alone.
10. Do not leave any hand written notes next to the flowers with words such as the following:
(a) "Gone to the angels - sleep tight my innocent," as I will already be well on my way.
(b) "God bless you my little one," as it'll be too late by then - either I made it through the gate or didn't.
(c) "My little Quentin - I always knew you would make it big," as it might be from my mother who I thought died about ten years ago
(d) "To Quent - Cheers from all at the Red Lion" as It'll upset me and I might cry
(e) "Here lies Quentin Kelp, MP for Krupton," as it will suggest I never even made it to Junior Minister.
(f) "Hooray!" as I'll know it was from Smut 2.
(g) Do not leave any hand-written notes at all if you can't spell
11. You can, however, leave notes as follows
(a) Remembered for his brilliant jokes and repartee
(b) Remembered for his unstinting support of the Red Lion in difficult times for independent pubs
(c) Remembered for his steadfast refusal to be politically correct
(d) Remembered for his baritone voice that still echoes in our dreams, so please allow Quentin to join the heavenly choir especially on the day England win the World Cup.
Yes, dear constituents, I am sure there is hardly a dry eye in the place, but I did, following my twenty minutes in the Red Lion after George's funeral, come to some policy decisions related to death. I will be putting an Early Day Motion to the House recommending that everyone should receive the benefits of a public outpouring of grief.
These outpourings need not be quite on the scale granted to Princess Diana but commensurate with one's contribution to the economy. This will mean that scroungers get little and hard workers get the full entitlement.
The Motion will also recommend that roadside memorials should be encouraged and planning permissions automatically granted. This would:
(a) Reduce the cost to Local Authority's Parks and Grounds Departments as nearly every public space would be covered in flowers. Plastic flowers would be encouraged as they last longer.
(b) Ensure a more pleasant environment due to the variety of colour
(c) Encourage entrepreneurs to come up with innovative designs for such permanent displays although structures as big as the Angel of the North (whilst appropriately named) would be discouraged as they might rust.
(d) All toys (fluffy and plastic) would be required to be made in UK thus further supporting local manufacture.
I'll stop now as I've just had another vision of my own road side memorial and am too upset to continue. God Bless you all. See you in the Red Lion.