There are many pleasurable duties in the life of the local MP – one of which is the opening of new enterprises in the town. In my time I have opened, amongst other establishments, a convenience store, a wallpaper shop, a chocolate shop and two village shops and post offices. To exemplify further the range of my interests across the generations, I have opened a birthing centre and a funeral parlour.
Last week, the photographer of the Andover Advertiser - who has attended an equal number of such events - and I were invited to Unit 305 at the Commercial Centre in Picket Piece to the opening of Love Yarn. Subject to the demands on space in the paper, a photograph of this moving ceremony might appear on another page. (Love Yarn is not a location where romantic stories are narrated, but where high quality wool is sold.)
Speeches were made, a ribbon was cut – should it have been a skein of wool? - bulbs flashed and corks popped. A satisfactory volume of trade was conducted by those present and the distant clicking of knitting needles in the town indicates that activity is under way, as fleece is converted into clothing. I wish the very best of luck to the proprietors of this new enterprise.
At the end of the ceremony, there was a surprise for the opener. I was presented with a pair of hand-knitted socks. Discrete enquiries had been made to ensure they were of the right size, and they may have a small walk-on part in our parliamentary proceedings. Which brings me to the point.
As a result of the well-publicised difficulties that MP’s got into last year, our rules for the registration of interests have been tightened. Interests have been widely defined, so the hosiery may therefore need to be entered under “earnings”.
No details are being spared from the details which might go in the register. I have made inquiries about the identity of the sheep that supplied the wool. It is a Blue-faced Leicester, a breed known for their broad muzzles, tendency towards a Roman nose, bright alert eyes, and long erect ears. The socks have been hand-dyed yellow and are size 12. The hours that Fiona took to knit them are available if required in the interests of accountability. They will join my only other entry in the register - a bottle of 2008 Beaujolais Villages, registered on 26 February 2010, presented to me by Bishop Wordsworth's Church of England Grammar School for Boys after a talk entitled Politics Today.