The House of Commons has completed its first fortnight of the Summer Recess, and comments from constituents about MP’s 82 day holiday are met with a pained smile. Indeed, responding to the letters and emails about the length of the Summer Recess and the brevity of MP’s commitment to their job has kept me very busy. I shall only be away for two weeks and September is already punctuated by Select Committee meetings at Westminster.
One of the first two weeks has been spent entertaining grandchildren and, as any grandparent will tell you, this can be arduous. One is learning the trombone and the other the trumpet. I applaud this commitment. However, they rehearse contemporaneously, but with different scores and in different keys – and I apologise to our long-suffering neighbours for the cacophony. Next year, we hope for a civilised recital; and in later years, possibly the Haydn Trumpet Concerto. Their backgammon skills are coming on apace and soon they will learn the mysteries of the doubling dice and how to play for money.
Cultural activities have blended with the athletic. The new BMX track at the Depot has proved a hit with all three grandchildren. The grandparents have been challenged to race them round the track on our tandem but we have declined.
On their first evening, they believed the propaganda about a barbecue summer and wanted to sleep in the garden. A gazebo was found in the attic and erected with difficulty. It is one of those tasks which is completed more quickly the fewer the people involved. The grandparents took bets on how long they would stay in after nightfall. Not long. They told us they hadn’t realised the garden was so close to the graveyard and after a short time came in saying thery were spooked.
The arrival of the grandchildren to stay meant that we needed to stock up with beer. Not for them, as they are still under age. But for the adults to relax with once they had been packed off to bed and had the story read. (Chapters seem to be getting longer)
We went to a local supermarket and picked up two crates on special offer. My wife was at the check out, putting the purchases on the conveyor, and I was putting them in the trolley. When the check-out lady came to the beer, she looked at my wife and asked her to produce proof of her age. (I betray no confidences, but she is at last three times the minimum age for alcohol purchase). She has been boasting about this request to her friends ever since.