18 Aug 2007
Readers may be familiar with the opera plot where the hero is known to have been injured in battle, is never seen again and is assumed to be dead. He is widely mourned, only to re-appear in the last act just before the princess is about to marry the man chosen for her by her father, whom she despises.
So, less dramatically, with my hat. Readers will remember that I lost a straw hat on the A343. Tributes were paid in the local paper and a generous reader replaced it. But the hat was not lost; it was retrieved by a following motorist, who is a reader of this column. Realising whose hat it was, the reader delivered it to my office and reunited it with its owner. I thank Mrs H of Vernham Street for her valour. Apart from a tyre mark on the rim, the hat is in good shape
However it is unlikely that the hat will be much in evidence for what remains of our summer. An email from the Chairman of my Party has arrived, instructing me to prepare for a snap General Election. It seems only yesterday that I was knocking on doors and asking for the opportunity to serve North West Hampshire for a third term. (That was the election when the then Prime Minister assured us he would serve a full-term. Within two years, he was off – and it may be that the Parliament survives but a short time longer.)
One sentence from the Chairman sailed right over my head “Check that you have carried out all the data cleaning tasks in BlueChip or FilePlan that have been required by the IT team.” This act of software sanitation is being ignored. But another instruction was clearly understood “Please start building up your photograph library.”
This requires a large cast – a policeman, a nurse, a teacher, a commuter, a pensioner and a furry animal. It also requires props – a hospital whose wards might be closed, an airfield on which a megashed might be built, a rural post office that might be closed. Putting them together requires effort and travel.
It was time for lateral thinking. My leader is anxious that I should reduce the size of my carbon footprint; and I am proud to belong to a party that is cautious about change. I looked at my last election address, confident that there is not a voter in North West Hampshire who remembers a word of it. There was the requisite cast, captured next to the smiling prospective candidate with a blue rosette; there were the messages about a square deal for Hampshire, more bobbies on the beat, more front-line investment in schools and hospitals, and more decisions taken locally. Not a word needs changing.
I just have to sell the idea to the Chairman and the Agent.