Ever eager to learn I was intrigued when a constituent offered me advice on how to do my job as a MP.
For the next edition of my book HOW TO BE AN MP I am trawling for unique authentic anecdotes to enliven the text. My constituent is clearly qualified to advise me on politics because he is both a disc jockey and a beer salesman.
In two tweets he demanded to know how much time I spend writing. Those who genuinely seek information ask on e-mail not on tweets. I suspect an element of grandstanding here. He is scandalised by the shocking fact that I have written 22 blogs this year. (I'm a bit embarrassed as I no longer write one a day). I explained that when I write books, always in August recesses, I stick to 2,000 words a day. A 500 word article takes about an hour. A tweet about three minutes. Problem?
Mysteriously he advises me to write less and blog my diary. This is all a tad hurtful because I am proud of my writing. I strive to make it more interesting than a diary list. Last Summer the Telegraph reported that one of my books was top holiday reading for MPs followed up by one by Boris Johnson and one by Lord Archer. That's not bad. The books and articles have also provided more than £30,000 to charities in serial rights and royalties. As I already have a full-time salary, all excess income is sent to charities. I await my constituent's advice on the volumes of questions I ask, speeches I make and meetings I attend, plus E-mails, phone messages and letters I swiftly answer. All are way above average for MPs. What should I be doing instead?
This is the life of an MP. What woud to-day's diary look like.
Today: Prepared for next week's Commons business. Tories self-flagellation on Select Committee on independence of Civil Service. Revived complaint on 29 year old murder of Gwent detective. Answered letters and e-mail. Watched Scotland and Italy match. Evening went to Newport St David's Day dinner wearing artificial daffodil because real ones wilt. Masterly use f Welsh and English in speech by Gwr Gwadd.
Not exactly James Boswell or Anne Frank. I won't reveal the constituent's name because that is what he probably wants me to do. But he is a 'Newport Lib-Dems activist'. Some of them have problems with writing. Tough on books and the authors of books. One of them lied about my books on television a year ago. A splendid local charity had a cheque for £500 in damages that he paid me. I was hopeful that they had learned their lesson.
Not that I have got anything against Lib-Dems. In the Commons and in Newport I work with many Lib-Dems. Norman Lamb and I were a two man team a month ago to oppose a foolish Tory Bill. Julien Huppert and I were close friends in the last parliament. I am sorry he has gone. David Hando is a longtime greatly respected friend.
But young Newport Lib-Dems are a puzzle. Diaries are not an alternative to creative writing.
I'll stick to the blogs.