Iain Dale is in Washington. Before he left he asked me to step in, and speak at a dinner for him, which he had already committed to doing before he decided to go..
It was on Tuesday night, and at the other end of the day from the morning talk I had given at the school.
It had been a shockingly heavy day, it was the last thing I felt like doing.
When Iain asked me to step in at short notice, I was happy to oblige. My reasoning was that the vote would be at 10pm and therefore I could dash to the restaurant in Victoria, where the dinner was taking place, and back into the House for the votes.
When I realised that there were votes at 8.20, 8.30 ,and then at 10, I became visibly distressed!
"Go and see the slipping whip", said the older and wiser MPs.
"He will be very understanding, and tell you not to worry about the ten o’clock vote".
Buoyed with false optimism, I felt confident as I approached the slipping whip in the lobby during the first vote.
Within seconds, I got the feeling that this was a man to whom many MPs had attempted to sell a pup that day.
The deal was that I missed the 8.30 vote, but be back in the lobby for the 10pm.
This deal was struck at 8.25.
I headed out of the House, jumped into a cab, and arrived in the private dining room of the Gran Paradiso in Victoria, to talk to the ‘young learners’ dining club at 8.55.
I had 50 minutes to eat and talk.
The eating didn’t really happen for me; but what did was a fascinating over the table discussion with a group of very intelligent, and switched on young men and women, aged between 23 – 26. They were all passionately interested in the issues of the day and from all sides of the political spectrum.
I ran off at 9.50 and just made the first 10pm vote.
It seemed like a lifetime ago since I had been at Samuel Whitbread, not the same day!
Today, I had lunch with a very famous and influential journalist, (get me!) and had to jump into another cab to Covent Garden.
I got in at Derby Gate. By the time we reached St Stephens entrance, the cab driver had identified that I was from Liverpool; and by the time we were half way down the embankment, he had proposed to me.
He justified his shock proposal with the declaration that he had always wanted to marry a blonde, blue eyed, woman from Liverpool.
I was having a rubbish morning up until that point.
If only he had been good looking, without a wife from Staines, and had all his own teeth!