One of the setbacks of living in the distant suburbs of London is that you tend to have less of a social life than you might otherwise have. A long day at work, with a wearying commute at the end of it, tends to make you feel that doing anything other than going home is too much like hard work.
However, living in inner London means that you gain that extra valuable time to do things that are fun. Alternatively, you can organise events to see other people. Ailsa Newby, wife of our Treasury spokesman in the Lords, had decided that spirits needed lifting, and so threw a Party for the Parliamentary Party in the Lords. Frankly, it's been pretty depressing with all the talk of enquiries into expenses, never knowing when your name will come into the frame, especially when sections of the media are happy to stitch you up by wilfully misrepresenting the facts, as Jo Swinson and Alan Reid have discovered.
So an opportunity to relax was eagerly anticipated although, given the way Lords business is managed, the ability to escape the Palace of Westminster is sometimes compromised. And, indeed, that was the story of the evening, with key votes on the Political Parties and Elections Bill taking place. Regardless of the likelihood of success, our team made sure that they were there to at least make a point, so it was particularly pleasing that votes were won to bar tax exiles from contributing to political parties, and to cap donations at £50,000 per annum.
At least a phalanx of Peers were able to join us before sunset, in time to follow England's defeat down the road at the Oval. Ah well, life can't be perfect... Thanks, Ailsa, for a lovely evening...