Dear constituents of mine,
I have had a most hectic week.
It didn't start well. The train up to London was so crowded on Monday morning that I thought I may not even get my usual seat. Fortunately the old lady who I found sitting in my allocated seat recognised me and moved elsewhere. Thank goodness she did. My Blackberry with its new ring tone was already in full flow as I sat down and it was only eight fifteen.
By the way, I have to admit that the sound it has recently starting emitting when someone calls has taken a little getting used to. But I am grateful to a young man who called at one of my weekly surgeries for this.
He had wanted to complain about the closure of the youth centre and we were interrupted several times by my phone going off which, of course, I felt it necessary to answer in case it was someone important.
However, eventually, after I'd given him my considered views - spoken as usual in the language that any sixteen year old understands and so interspersed with words like 'innit' - he thanked me and then recommended a ring tone that he said would endear me to the Christian and Jewish minority in the town by recognising the day of rest and prayer - the Sabbath.
Of course, I already recognise Fridays as the Moslem day off, Wednesday as Lottery and Monday as washing day.
By the way, those who know me well (the majority) are well aware that I have spoken on many occasions both at meetings in my constituency and in the House about the need for a religious tolerance, balance and diversity so I agreed. I also thought that anything might sound better than the tone that my nine year old son, Hector - who will now definitely be going to Krupton High School in September, by the way - had installed.
Naturally, I am unused to downloading such things as the Blackberry is used entirely for official Parliamentary business and comes to us elected Members already set up by someone else. Thankfully we are getting iPads shortly but, meanwhile, I keep the Blackberry always switched on for calls from my PA, Ministers and the PM's office. Consequently, it rings almost non-stop.
So, I left this young fellow to fiddle with it while I dealt with another constituent about something or other and, surprisingly quickly, the youth (seemingly content with my views on the youth club) thanked me and left with a smile on his face. I saw him through my window, still laughing as he reported back to his friends who were waiting outside in the rain. Such is my understanding of the needs of young people in my constituency.
All of this is relevant to my universally popular "Theme of the Week", by the way.
As I was pushing my way towards the front of the queue to exit the carriage on arrival at Paddington Station on Monday morning a constituent I didn't recognise was waiting for me on the platform. Clearly having recognised me and wanting advice, he grabbed me by the sleeve of my navy blue suit. He informed me that he had really enjoyed listening to abstracts from Black Sabbath all the way from Swindon. I have no idea what he was talking about - typical Paddington dweller I expect - but I thanked him and went to get my taxi whilst realising that he couldn't possibly be a constituent of mine so not that important.
But, thinking that perhaps I had just done my friend, the Honourable Member from Swindon, a favour I decided I would follow this up in the Members Bar at lunch.
By the way, I'd pre-ordered roast pheasant with French beans as I'd heard the pheasant was to be sourced from one of my constituents, apparently a local butcher although the name was new to me.
And this brings me to the theme of this week's report: My support for local industry and local produce.
That pheasant was delicious. That butcher needs a special mention. Served up with the French beans (which I understand were actually flown in fresh from Kenya earlier that day), a rich sauce made from in-season Spanish red currants and washed down with a bottle of Italian white wine, it provided a wonderful start to the afternoon that followed which was spent in Committee discussing the widening trade gap and the need to support our local producers.
That's it for now, friends. Next week, I'll be reporting on my views on the Euro so I'm off to Barcelona for a couple of days to see with my own eyes how the Spanish have created such a successful economy on the back of fresh fruit and vegetables and perhaps bring back a few samples to show how they do it and we can't.
In the meantime, don't forget my slogan, "Be positive."