Monday, 20 September 2010

Wobbling Back to Reality, Despite Some Somewhat Surreal Horticulture.

This morning, I'm making a cup of tea when I notice that the leaves of the basil plant in the kitchen appear to have grown faces. I think I'm going completely round the bend, until Max spots them and starts laughing. It turns out that Josh has had an artistic moment with the leaves and a biro. Is he on drugs? I must find that "Talk to Frank" leaflet and see if I can spot any giveaway signs.

At least the house was still standing when we got home late last night, which was a big relief. I was pretty apprehensive when we opened the door, but there didn't seem to be much mess when we got inside. Well, that's not strictly true - everything looked incredibly messy, but as that's the norm, I couldn't blame Josh. He'd even put the rubbish out, or rather he claimed he had - until Robbie informed me that Josh had bribed him to do it by offering a glimpse of Annoying Ellen's naked bin day routine as payment.

I'm really not looking forward to returning to work, especially after my "holiday" proved such a wash-out. I'm expecting there to be loads of bad news waiting for me - but Greg appears insanely cheerful when I arrive at the office. He's wearing a ridiculous hat, to which he has attached a big label announcing, "Guess who's off to conference!"

Talk about a mark of inexperience. If Greg had ever been to conference before, he'd know it's nothing to get excited about - and is certainly not the way that anyone with half a brain would choose to spend hard-earned leave* days. Not to mention that his hotel room will be the cheapest and nastiest possible, as the Boss has to pay the cost out of his own pocket. Last time I went, I'm sure I was housed in the broom cupboard. I don't say any of this to Greg, though, as I am still endeavouring to let the constitutionally naive learn from their own experiences. It's just a shame that I seem incapable of learning from mine.

God knows what made me think a week in David and Susie's holiday cottage would be a good way to spend most of my remaining holiday. (Going to conference probably wouldn't have been any worse, now I come to think of it.) The whole thing sounded okay in theory, but that was when I didn't know that I was going to be riddled with guilt after my evening with Johnny, and incapable of enjoying myself as a result.

I also didn't expect the weather to be so bloody awful. I spent the entire time wearing every item of clothing I'd brought, all at once, in an effort not to freeze to death. I looked like a Weeble, and Max insisted on repeatedly testing the claim that Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Every time I walked past, he gave me a shove. It got very boring very quickly, at least from my perspective. After he accidentally pushed me right over, I refused to play any longer. Then we couldn't seem to think of anything else to do.

So, by the end of the first afternoon, we were stir crazy and desperate to go for a drink, but we couldn't even afford a bottle of cheap plonk from the local shop, let alone a trip to the one and only local pub. It turned out that we'd managed to overlook the fact that we were already at the limit of our overdraft before the holiday even started. I was so embarrassed. I do wish shop assistants wouldn't shout when they announce that your card has been declined.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Max's depression at the alcohol shortage was exacerbated by the fact that the TV picture turned out to be virtually non-existent, so he spent most of his time fiddling with the portable aerial. (This is not an euphemism for anything more exciting.) I decided to stay out of his way until he'd got a snow-free picture, and resorted to prowling around the house like a caged and oddly bulbous animal instead. I even tried to do some sit-ups, until I realised that I couldn't bend in the middle, due to the Weebleness.

I got so bored that being parted from my laptop proved much more challenging than I'd expected. I couldn't stalk Josh and Connie on Facebook to make sure they were okay, I had no idea whether Johnny was emailing me, and I couldn't keep abreast of what was happening in the world of politics. I was quite surprised to discover how much I minded the latter. I wanted to see how things were going at the LibDem conference, and whether the grassroots were going to rise up and revolt against all the manifesto pledges that have had to be abandoned in the pursuit of power.

To add to my boredom, I'd forgotten to pack any books, or rather Max had - seeing as he'd insisted on doing the packing himself. That's the trouble with dyslexics: no appreciation for the escapism afforded by losing oneself in a book. All I could find to read was a copy of Sharon Osbourne's autobiography that someone had abandoned in the cottage.

Ozzy sounds as if he was even more of a nightmare in his younger days than The Boss is now. God knows why Sharon didn't walk out on him, if the stories she tells are true. I can only assume that he must be very, very good in bed, though that's pretty hard to imagine. Mind you, I guess any sex is better than none, which was what was achieved during our holiday.

Max didn't seem terribly interested until our last night, and then I got terrible hiccups halfway through - probably due to guilt. I always get hiccups when I feel guilty. This time, they were so bad that I had to get up and go and try Dad's favourite remedy, which involves drinking a large glass of water, upside down. Well, not exactly upside down, but it feels like it when you get it wrong and all the water goes up your nose. Or down your front.

It took ages before the bloody hiccups stopped, by which time I was soaking wet, and Max was fast asleep. So now it seems as if I am the kiss of death to anyone I might possibly have sex with. Or the kiss of hiccups or chicken pox, anyway. Gah. I bet none of the delegates at conference are going to have any trouble having rampant sex every night. Even Greg might get laid - which probably explains both the cheerfulness and the party hat.

*leave days - MPs' staff cannot attend Party conference during their normal working time, because this would mean that the taxpayer would effectively be funding party political activity. Therefore, whichever one of us is lucky enough to be "chosen" to accompany The Boss has to take holiday in order to do so. Waiting on him hand and foot is even more intolerable when you could be doing something so much nicer with your time. (Unless you are me, and your holidays are even more boring than your working life.)


  1. So glad you're back - I've missed you and your musings. At least you'll have a nice quiet time with Greg and The Boss away at conference.

  2. Aw, thanks so much! Though I doubt it'll be quiet - not unless they take all the usual suspects (and my family) with them to conference ;-)

  3. Yes, its good to have you back.

    Re the leave issue - I really can't understand how attending a party conference is any different to the casework you do - surely that is just as political. MPs do casework in part at least because they think it will reflect well on them and win votes. Do you never make a party political point in your letters to constituents? This is a genuine question, I simply don't understand the system.

  4. Thanks, Horshamite. It's (almost) nice to be back!

    It IS confusing isn't it - but actually true. No, we don't ever make party political points in response to constituents' letters, but rather act as their advocates with whatever agency etc they're having a problem with.

    The Boss might occasionally write a personal (and thus political) response to someone lobbying him on a specifically political issue, but otherwise, casework is entirely non-party political. Which I believe is as it should be, as we are funded by the taxpayer and an MP's duty is to represent all his constituents, not just those that share his or her political views.

    The story is the same during the run-up to general elections. Once the election is called, and Parliament dissolved, MPs' staff can't help their MP boss campaign for re-election unless they use their annual leave to do so.

  5. Thanks for the info, very helpful - as are your occasional footnotes.

  6. Oh good. Though you were, of course, right in your assumption that if an MP's casework is done well and with commitment, it does enhance his or her reputation amongst constituents, and improve the chances of re-election! But the casework role is non-political. (Probably a good thing, as casework really does make you question political ideology!)