A bad night

I didn’t get must sleep last night because at about 3am I woke up with acid in my mouth. I have acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid ends up in my throat. It’s worse at night because when your oesophagus is horizontal, it’s easier for acids to get back out then when you’re upright. It wakes me up about once a month, but last night was worse than it’s been for a while. It’s strange waking up suddenly. Whilst I was staggering around the house looking for the appropriate medication, I felt I still had to save the post office from being taken over by the ants. All those of you involved in elections will know why I’m dreaming about the post office right now…

Last night, the usual Gaviscon / Rennie cocktail wasn’t quite as effective and I was actually in pain for quite a while. So I spent an hour or so whilst the pain subsided googling on the condition to see what I should to do stop it happening again. I was hoping for a chemical solution, a way of preventing the symptons. It looks like a systemic, lifestyle solution is more the answer. The main article I read suggested three main lines of attack: lose weight, raise the head of your bed on bricks, and don’t eat or drink anything for two hours before retiring. All of those are difficult. The raise your bed thing I should have done years ago: it was recommended as soon as I got my diagnosis five years ago. But at the time, I had a divan not a bed frame, and it didn’t really work. Then I was on a landlord’s bed. Now I have no excuses. Losing weight–well. Tried that. It didn’t work. And the eating and drinking thing would be a lot easier if I had regular meals and a regular bedtime, but life is somewhat more chaotic than that.

Black Rod’s Garden Entrance


Did you come here from Google trying to find out which bit of the Houses of Parliament you need for Black Rod’s Garden Gate? It’s the opposite end of the building to St Stephen’s Tower, where Big Ben is. Ask any police officer and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction

One of the disadvantages of blogging is that sometimes when interesting things happen to you, you’re concentrating less on the moment, and more on how you’re going to write it up later on. So today as I was walking from St Pancras to the House of Lords, my mind was partly taken up with an inner narrative describing what what I was doing.

It’s been a lovely day, and really I was too hot in a suit and woolen overcoat, and I should have left the laptop and books at home since I didn’t actually need them apart from keeping myself busy on the train, when a newspaper would have done just as well.

I took a slightly different route from last time I walked from the railway station to the Palace of Westminster, avoiding the Tottenham Court Road and Whitehall to walk through Bloomsbury (how different Russell Square looks in the daylight) and St James Park. As always, I arrived in London with plenty of time to spare so spent a few minutes hanging around under St Stephen’s Tower, and got nobbled by a market researcher who wanted to ask me what I’d seen of the Metropolitan Police’s advertising campaign about terrorism and the Crimestoppers service. Practically nothing, it would seem. In the brief time I’d been in London I hadn’t noticed any of their ads; I don’t listen to commercial radio or watch much TV that isn’t taped American serials, so all their ad-buy telling Londoners that terrorists are everywhere had completely passed me by.

Eventually time came round to presenting my invite to a reception from that nice Lord Rennard at Black Rod’s Garden Entrance, and I was ushered into the House of Lords. Or at least a very small part of it called the Atlee Room. The event was there to promote top level Lib Dem PPCs (the ones the electorate will probably be sending to Westminster in a few weeks’ time) to lobby journalists on regional newspapers and regional TV channels. My job was basically to support a talented candidate from Leicestershire, but fundamentally, she’s such a good candidate (sorry, I mean ‘local campaigner’) that she really doesn’t need much support from the likes of me.

I felt a bit of a spare wheel in the first few minutes of the reception, drinking rather nice apple juice and helping myself to canapes as they passed, not really talking to anyone. Then I got a chance to check in with my candidate and see how she felt she’d done with a TV interview earlier in the day, and admire the TV makeup she was still wearing, and whilst I was engaged in that, a London colleague brought over two dishy young men representing newspapers and TV stations in the East Midlands. After that, I started drinking the wine instead of the juice, and the conversation flowed a little more freely. Lord Rennard intervened eventually for a brief speech, I got gently handed around the room to speak to some more PPCs and journos as stewards brought round more canapes and wine. One of the older staff told me he liked my hair. Which was nice.

Black Rod's Garden Entrance


Did you come here from Google trying to find out which bit of the Houses of Parliament you need for Black Rod’s Garden Gate? It’s the opposite end of the building to St Stephen’s Tower, where Big Ben is. Ask any police officer and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction

One of the disadvantages of blogging is that sometimes when interesting things happen to you, you’re concentrating less on the moment, and more on how you’re going to write it up later on. So today as I was walking from St Pancras to the House of Lords, my mind was partly taken up with an inner narrative describing what what I was doing.

It’s been a lovely day, and really I was too hot in a suit and woolen overcoat, and I should have left the laptop and books at home since I didn’t actually need them apart from keeping myself busy on the train, when a newspaper would have done just as well.

I took a slightly different route from last time I walked from the railway station to the Palace of Westminster, avoiding the Tottenham Court Road and Whitehall to walk through Bloomsbury (how different Russell Square looks in the daylight) and St James Park. As always, I arrived in London with plenty of time to spare so spent a few minutes hanging around under St Stephen’s Tower, and got nobbled by a market researcher who wanted to ask me what I’d seen of the Metropolitan Police’s advertising campaign about terrorism and the Crimestoppers service. Practically nothing, it would seem. In the brief time I’d been in London I hadn’t noticed any of their ads; I don’t listen to commercial radio or watch much TV that isn’t taped American serials, so all their ad-buy telling Londoners that terrorists are everywhere had completely passed me by.

Eventually time came round to presenting my invite to a reception from that nice Lord Rennard at Black Rod’s Garden Entrance, and I was ushered into the House of Lords. Or at least a very small part of it called the Atlee Room. The event was there to promote top level Lib Dem PPCs (the ones the electorate will probably be sending to Westminster in a few weeks’ time) to lobby journalists on regional newspapers and regional TV channels. My job was basically to support a talented candidate from Leicestershire, but fundamentally, she’s such a good candidate (sorry, I mean ‘local campaigner’) that she really doesn’t need much support from the likes of me.

I felt a bit of a spare wheel in the first few minutes of the reception, drinking rather nice apple juice and helping myself to canapes as they passed, not really talking to anyone. Then I got a chance to check in with my candidate and see how she felt she’d done with a TV interview earlier in the day, and admire the TV makeup she was still wearing, and whilst I was engaged in that, a London colleague brought over two dishy young men representing newspapers and TV stations in the East Midlands. After that, I started drinking the wine instead of the juice, and the conversation flowed a little more freely. Lord Rennard intervened eventually for a brief speech, I got gently handed around the room to speak to some more PPCs and journos as stewards brought round more canapes and wine. One of the older staff told me he liked my hair. Which was nice.

Gay men and rubber gloves

So, what do gay men use rubber gloves for? P uses them for bleaching the bathroom, I’ve been known to use them for dying my hair… but yesterday we went down to London to see Julie Walters wearing gold lamé rubber gloves in the short run of Acorn Antiques… The Musical. Which was an entertaining night, but obscenely expensive. Drove down, parked outside a friend’s flat in Zone 2, cabbed into the west end, watched show, tubed out, drove home. Got in at 3am and went straight to bed.

Woke up to an answerphone message from Channel 4 news. There’s been a new shooting in Nottingham, can I find a Lib Dem who will comment? Yes, I can find a Lib Dem. I missed the news of the shooting when it happened on Thursday, so I spend 10 minutes reading up on it to help brief a colleague. A man who’d spent the day at a funeral was killed outside a pub, apparently after a fight. A newspaper story points out that it’s been 5 months since Danielle Beccan was killed, and that’s the longest this city has been without a shooting for years. A senior policeman has asked for help from other police forces because we don’t have the person power to continue investigating all the open murder cases in the city. Our police are short of officers, they say because of the ‘funding formula’ that allocates funds to constabularies. The formula differentiates between urban and rural police forces, and ours counts as rural because it covers all of Nottinghamshire. Rural police forces get less money than urban ones.

New Labour Code

Knackered last night, so took to my bed at 9.30pm or so and read the Da Vinci Code cover to cover. So this morning, which this link came to my attention, I knew what it was talking about: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/flash/0,10291,1425101,00.html

I was tired not because I’d been up all night watching the legislative ping pong in Parliament, but becase I had to sleep on a mate’s floor Thursday night. My car got locked in a car park, and I was unable to get home once I’d finished printing at nearly midnight. Friday morning, I had a committee in Nottingham, which meant a train home before my car was released followed by a train back again in the afternoon.

Monday was Full Council in Nottingham, and council set the budget, and with it, council tax rates for the next year. Practically every one of the 35 Labour members made a speech, and over half of the opposition groups did too. Consequently, it took over 7 hours of debate, and, suprise suprise, pushed some of the other agenda items beyond our guillotine rule, which means that if the meeting is still happening at 9.30pm, we only vote on items without talking about them or amending them. One of the items we didn’t have time to talk about just so happened to be a criticism from the District Auditor that Labour should not have used the in-house newspaper to promote individual Labour councillors…

Many of the speeches on Monday seemed to be people standing up and making their boilerplate stump speeches prepared for General Election consumption rather than anything particularly Nottingham-budget-specific. Well, after spending a weekend at Lib Dem conference in Harrogate, I was quite well briefed on the contents of boilerplate stump speeches from our side of the political divide, so I was able to get on my feet and let myself get angry. Which always leads to a good speech, and when I sat down, our glorious leader said, “You can do that again if you want.” Our researcher in the gallery later told me off for using the word ‘mendaciousness’ (I of course meant mendacity) but otherwise lots of positive comments post speech. Which was nice.

Harrogate

Harrogate is lovely. I’m greatly impressed by free wireless connection to the internet — I’m sitting in the foyer watching the quite extraordinary array of totty walk past on the way into the conference hall. Given that it’s free, there aren’t many people using it. Just me and one of the more IT literate MPs. I’m trying not to earwig on the great and the good having extremely confidential conversations all around me. A quick chat on Messenger/Trillan to my brother who’s in Nepal at the moment getting ready to climb Everest. E-mailing the content of a training session I’ve just delivered to some of the attendees, since I forgot to produce a handout. A nice conversation with a former co-worker who I’ve not seen for ages. A chance, finally, to meet a very good-looking young man I’ve been chatting to online on and off since last summer–whose photos really don’t do him justice. Quite disappointing going round the exhibition: not much in the way of freebies this time, although there’s a very comprehensive pack from the Paper Co, which I availed myself of to give to our print buyer. Park, a printing firm, managed to help us out of a hole by finding us a firm to do some printing over the weekend–saving us from having to go home early and do it ourselves through the night on Sunday. I had a chat with the EARS people (EARS is our voter ID database) but didn’t quite manage to fix the problem I have just yet. There’s a reception tonight, and then the GLEE club, a quite extraordinary event where hundreds of mad Lib Dems sing songs with funny words at each other basically until the bar runs dry and we all stagger back to our hotels with the tune to ‘The Land’ stuck in our brains for another year.

Four years ago in Bournemouth in 2001 I went to my first Lib Dem conference, knowing practically no-one there. It only took one year to get to the position where the following year in Brighton, there was someone I wanted to avoid in every room. :)