If you want to irritate a Member of Parliament, a popular national pastime, you refer to his or her 3 months summer holiday. It is true that our Summer Recess begins on July 26th, and the House returns on October 9th, (two and a half months away.) There must be a likelihood of a recall if the international situation deteriorates; but just because the House is not sitting, it does not mean we are sipping pints at the local, watching the cricket or doing Killer Sudoku.
The House of Commons, I am told by those whose obscure business it is to measure these things, sits longer than almost any other legislature; and, to judge from those of our constituents who are critical of our output, the fewer days we sit, the less damage we inflict on the nation.
But during the recess, our constituents are good enough to share with us their views and problems. Thanks to modern technology, a response to those views and a solution to those problems is but a mouse-click away. But there are opportunities to abandon the keyboard and rediscover ones family.
The Youngs plan a traditional week at the seaside in the South West with children and grandchildren. And then later in September, a week on the continent without either, in search of culture, returning refreshed in time for the Party Conference in Bournemouth.
During our absence, the House of Commons is to be spring cleaned. We are told to remove everything from the Members Cloakroom because it is to be deep-cleaned. (Some of the articles have been left there since the beginning of this Parliament. Abandoned goody-bags from receptions and outdated briefings on Government White Papers)
Sometimes the authorities go too far. I returned from one short recess to find a note on my bicycle from the Sergeant at Arms, alleging that it had been abandoned. Few bicycles earn their keep better than my twenty year old steed, made by a UK manufacturer who has long since gone bankrupt. It has never been stolen because most other cyclists need a stepladder to get on to it, and no self respecting bike thief would be seen dead on what is definitely not a mobile fashion statement
On another occasion, a Labour Whip was anxious to find out which colleagues were not using their desks regularly. This was at a time when a desk was a prized possession. He put a note on each, asking its owner to ring the Whips immediately. Those who rang in last lost their desks, on the grounds they were not using them.
And so we leave the Palace of Westminster. The Speaker has put out the milk bottles, the neighbours are looking after the cat, the builders have got the keys and the mail is being forwarded.
Heigh-ho. Have a good break.