Sunday: Ducked morning service in favour of gardening, but made it to a special evening service to celebrate the Jubilee year and the community of our parish. In the midst of a powerful sermon on how technology has changed village life, the rector clamped his mobile to his ear, yelling, ‘I am in the pulpit. No, another 35 minutes.’ What a communicator. What a cook, too: I was all but trodden under at the post-service reception in the rush for his famous trout-and-leek tart. Despite everything, a church can still be a centre of village life, with the right incumbent.
Monday: Gardening again. Autumn marks that time when guilt over last spring’s jobs undone is set aside to plan for early action next spring. Gardens are like Marxist economies, full of five-year plans and objectives unattained but simply rolled over for another five years.
Tuesday: I slept uneasily and struggled to wake from a nightmare in which I wrote an impassioned letter to the Telegraph: ‘The selection committee at Chingford must surely see that to replace me with a white, middle-class, privately educated, Sandhurst-trained, heterosexual, married army officer with children at private schools will only add to the impression that the party is totally out of touch with modern, cool Britannia.’ It took three cups of strong coffee to settle me down for the drive to Bournemouth. One day at the party conference and one fringe meeting is enough for me these days. I struggled through security to the Tralee hotel for the Telegraph meeting, entitled ‘Is Britain a Free Country?’ Standing room only and, after some lively exchanges, it was back to the conference centre to hear David Davis and David Willetts. Good stuff. Some policies for the party to sell, at last.