The immediate aftermath of two General Elections and the Brexit Referendum have rather dominated the last three summers. So it is good to have a campaigning-free Summer Recess. Philippa and I have a week off in Spain (if the runways in Barcelona have not melted), and I am leading a trip to Greenland (more about which thereafter.) But for the most part we are right here in Wiltshire. People pay a lot of money to come here on holiday, so we who are lucky enough to live here should jolly well enjoy it.
I am hoping to do a bit of reading and writing. My new book, ‘Full English Brexit’ is due out in late September, and next Spring I am planning a compendium of these Columns, ‘Wiltshire to Westminster’. (From a bookshop near you.) I have just completed an article about the Inuit which will be coming out in Geography Magazine in October, and a 4000 word essay for the Royal United Services Institute on the use of the Royal Prerogative to go to war. My weekly Column gets a gratifying number of readers and commentators, so I shall keep up my ramblings over the Summer.
It’s time for a fair bit of reading too (which one never gets a moment to do during the Parliamentary session.) I am half way through Gordon Brown’s very well written Autobiography. I like the personal bits, but get a bit weary of his wanderings into ‘Neo-endogenous Growth Theories’. I was glad to read my son John’s two brilliant books- on the history of stationery and of silk screen printing, would you believe? And I have a ‘Must Read Table’ piled high in my study.
One aspect of an MP’s job is to take complex and obscure subjects and try to summarise their real impacts for their constituents. The main one at the moment, of course is Brexit; but there are constant others. That can only be done if the brain is given a little down-time from the daily hurly-burly; and with a bit of reading and writing to soothe the troubled breast.
Gladstone had a library of 20,000 books; Winston Churchill of course was a prodigious reader and writer, and Clement Attlee was famous for his love of the classics (and for catching the bus into Parliament); Macmillan loved poetry; and William Hague is a brilliant biographer - Pitt the Younger is one of the best political biographies ever.
So I will be keeping up my constituency engagements over the summer, but perhaps at a less hectic pace than normal. I hope to spend a fair bit of time in my ‘man-cave,’ reading and writing, resisting Philippa’s demands that I should ‘get out and about and do something useful,’ and generally preparing the old brain for what will, without doubt, be a tumultuous Autumn.