I've been away for the half-term break. Sorry not to have blogged, but I needed a break from all the constructive criticism of my regular commenters.
i always get soppy about this first half term of the school year. It takes me right back to my west country primary school in the 1970s, kicking through the autumn leaves as the nights drew in. The excitement of the new term has gone and the long winter lies ahead. (You can already feel this small-scale sense of dread on Westminster).
This first half-term always reminds of one of my classmates. He was not the brightest lad: let's call him Craig or Andrew or Michael or Mark or Simon (popular names at the time, but now long abandoned). OK Simon. Simon left school at 16 and went to work at the Gordano Services on the M5. We all did our stint there and I heard this story when I had a holiday job there during one long university summer.
A few years earlier, I was told, my old primary school classmate had started work at the filling station in the services: not a bad job in the hierarchy of the services. He was a keen worker and seemed to enjoy his job. But then autumn came and Simon disappeared. His workmate were baffled, but even more so when he turned up again a week later. "Where have you been, Simon?" they said. "What do you mean?" he said. "It was half term."
I have always thought that, in its way, this is one of the saddest stories I have ever heard.
Now back to the politics.