The impression every Member of Parliament likes to give is that each waking moment is devoted to the tireless pursuit of his constituents’ interests. As the eyes of the Mona Lisa follow you around the gallery in the Louvre, so your MP is ever vigilant for your welfare.
It was not always thus; when I first started, one MP ignored the first letter from any constituent asking for help, on the grounds that, if it was really important, the constituent would write again. When the word got round that he was less than diligent in discharging his responsibilities, his political opponent wrote to him at the House of Commons, asserting that he was idle. The MP, whose sense of humour had developed to compensate for his lack of energy, scribbled on the envelope “Not Known at this Address” and sent it back. He subsequently lost his seat.
One can overcompensate by being too diligent; another MP, sensitive to the problems of those with a speech impediment, wrote to British Telecom, demanding a special tariff for those with this affliction, on the grounds that it took them longer to complete a conversation than those blessed with fluency. He also lost his seat.
What every MP looks for is the happy medium – conscientious, but not obsessive. Present, but not omni-present. Hovering, but not intrusive.
So what does one do about Sundays? With the cards coming in from members of USDAW, asking me to oppose any further relaxation of the laws on Sunday trading, I refreshed my memory with the instructions from On High – namely the 4th Commandment.
“Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates.”
The trouble comes when one has, sadly, not done all one’s work within the six days for which one has been labouring; and asking the maidservant to answer the emails on a Sunday is not an option in the Young household – were it not expressly forbidden by the Almighty.
Looking at my diary this Sunday, I see I am invited to Harrow Way Community School to watch the Andover Thrashers play American Football. Risking a further slap on the wrist on Judgement Day, I propose to be on the touchline.
After all, is it not one of the paradoxes of life that the people in the pulpit who urge one to keep the Sabbath sacred are those who work every Sunday that the Almighty gives them.?