My week is normally divided into two self-contained sections. Monday to Thursday in Westminster; Friday to Sunday in Hampshire. I programme myself accordingly. Pinstripe suit in London; country tweeds in the constituency. Meetings with MP’s in the Commons; meetings with pig farmers in Whitchurch. Bachelor pad in Dolphin Square; family home in Penton Mewsey. Times, Telegraph and Guardian in the week; Basingstoke Gazette, Newbury Weekly News and Andover Advertiser at the week-end. A life that could be complicated is greatly simplified by this clear division.
But last week, my two worlds met. I was canvassing in the Chelsea by-election for Michael Portillo. I was in a pinstripe suit, free of agricultural smells, and in London mode. I knocked on a door; and there was one of my supporters from North West Hampshire. I was unable to re-programme myself into Hampshire mode, and retrieve his name from that database. Mercifully, he suffered from the same syndrome. We stared at each other, and said simultaneously “What on earth are you doing here? I thought you lived in Hampshire.”
And that was not my only surprise. Canvassing at an expensive block of flats, I pushed the entryphone button next to the label a titled lady. An extremely cultured voice answered the phone “Hulloaaa. What can we doaaa for youaaa?”
“Hello Lady X” I said “Have you had time to vote for Michael Portillo?”
“I don’t know” said the owner of the refined accent. “I’m just the maid.”