Saturday, 1 October 2011

The party train to party conference

I am now on the 18.04 from Camborne to Paddington which will get me in to Paddington by midnight so that I can then drive to Manchester tomorrow morning for the start of our party conference.

The 6.04 is the very last train to London on a Saturday night and I am a frequent traveller on it. I call it the "party train" because through the course of the journey, you see a fascinating profile of a saturday night out. There are always pretty girls dressed for a night out waiting on the platform at Camborne, probably on their way to the L2 nightclub in Truro (it was called The Loft back in my day). At Par, all those who have had a day out in Newquay get in board, surf boards and all. By Liskeard, there are people heading for a night out in Plymouth. By the time you get to Bristol, people who have had a few too many drinks but are on their way home start to get aboard and it gets progressively more rowdy until people start falling asleep towards the end. I suspect that it is not the favourite shift for the wonderfully patient First Great Western staff but probably beats the sometimes overcrowded Sunday trains.

Tomorrow morning I will be driving up to Manchester for our Party conference. In my former role managing the press, conference was one of the most demanding and stressful weeks of the year but, as a backbench MP, you actually get the chance to enjoy the fringe events and various debates in a way that was never previously possible. I am speaking at two - one on education for Policy Exchange and another on the future of the EU for the Centre for European Reform.

And, lest I sound pious talking about people drinking too much on a Saturday night out, I suspect I will also have a drink or two in Manchester.