My son – the boy

This morning, Malachy brought in a card for his dad on father’s day. How great was that? During the course of today he has done no wrong. He ate dirt. He dug up the tomato plants. He pulled the wires out of the phone socket. He threw his tea on all over the kitchen floor. Like I said, he can do no wrong.

Five live

Being a government whip afforded little advantage for a relatively young MP. You couldn’t speak in the chamber. You had to be in parliament first at the start of the week and last at the end of the week. You were discouraged from any media interviews. Still, it did mean that those early morning radio interviews were a thing of the past.

So it was a bit of a shock to the system when the alarm went off at quarter to six this morning. I was due to do Radio 5 about low-flying military helicopters. There’s a rythmn to early morning radio. Black coffee to wake up. Read the brief. Engage the brain and think about leftfield final questions. Have a seond coffee. Ring the studio. Bang. You’re on air.

This morning, I spilt the coffee on the brief five seconds before Nicky Campbell opened up the interview. Panic stricken, I was torn between mopping up the coffee from Mrs W’s favourite carpet or focusing on the questions. In the end, I attempted to do both at the same time. So, Mr Campbell ended up with a lot of “erms” and “errs” and we now have a big stain in the living room. Sorry Siobhan. Sorry Five-live listeners.

Sheila’s wheelers

I’m not sure if it is the new job, where I’m getting to meet the most remarkable people who do unbelievable things in the most challenging circumstances, or just because in less than ten months I’m going to be 40. I’m wanting a new challenge though. An endeavour that doesn’t just stretch the brain but the body too. A couple of friends completed the three highest peaks of England, Scotland and Wales last month. Another just bagged Kilimanjaro. A constituent of mine, Gary Hurdman, has just emailed to say that he’s cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Gary and his family are doing the bike ride for charity, partly to honour his late mum, partly because they can and they want some fun. So why not sponsor him? The last time I did a bike ride of any length was on the People’s bike ride for jobs in 1985. It was a Labour Party event – Blackpool to London via half the marginal seats in the North West and Midlands. I couldn’t make Wednesbury to West Bromwich these days….