To Sheffield for the joint LGA/ALDC Conference. Yes, I know, I'm not a councillor and never have been, but I do enjoy a good conference.
However, there was a difference - the venue. The rather puritan sense that we shouldn't enjoy ourselves too much has been replaced by an understanding that our councillors now actually run things and are a professional corps of people delivering real services and spending real money. That means running professional conferences at proper venues, and the Mercure St Paul Hotel in the middle of Sheffield certainly met the requirement.
Spending time in the blogosphere as I do, it is easy to forget that, amidst the spleen-venting and posturing of some of my colleagues, that many of my friends and acquaintances across the Party are now councillors. It was nice to see so many of them in one place, although all I was doing was greeting old friends and smiling. They, on the other hand, were working, and their professionalism is amazingly reassuring.
I'm old enough to remember a time when we had far fewer councillors, and the prospect of many of my friends getting elected, let alone be in power, was unlikely, to put it kindly. And yet, so many of them are Executive Members, or Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, without having sold their souls to reach that august level. In turn, they are doing the things we always talked about, making a real difference in the lives of real people.
We all occasionally have moments when we wonder why we bother, when defeat or hostility or plain stupidity makes giving it all up seem attractive. And then you turn up in a place like Sheffield, see your friends, and you realise that it really is worth going to that meeting, delivering those leaflets and going that extra mile...