Recess always turns out to be busier than I expect. I spend most of the preceding month postponing visit requests, telling my diary secretary I'll do them during recess, and then end up with a whole week of 'Fridays'. During the past week I've discovered how nan bread is cooked in a tandoori oven; how sunbeds work (sort of!); and that I'm not as bad at badminton as I thought. On a more serious note, I've also visited Auschwitz and been briefed by the police on the terror suspect arrest in Bristol. And I have once again failed to set up a wireless internet connection in the constituency office. (This is a mandatory feature of recess, that at least one whole day should be spent on the phone to the parliamentary IT helpdesk).
This coming week back in Westminster is going to be completely hectic. We start with Home Office questions which I'd like to attend, especially given recent events in Bristol, but will probably have to miss as we've got a DFID ministerial team meeting at the same time. Then it's the Second Reading of the Finance Bill and I want to speak on child poverty, so Monday morning will be spent trying to bash together a speech. There's also a meeting about the Local Transport Bill, as I'm on the Committee; that starts on Tuesday, with four sessions a week for the next few weeks, so I've got loads of reading to do on that - the briefings are coming in thick and fast! And we have the PLP's weekly meeting, which should be interesting. Plus there's catching up on all the correspondence I haven't seen, and letters I haven't signed while I've been in Bristol.
I also want to speak in a couple of other debates this week. On Thursday there's a debate on points-based immigration and I want to raise some of the issues brought to my attention by local Bangladeshi restaurant owners last week, if I can escape from the Local Transport Bill committee for long enough to do so. On Friday I'm staying in London for Private Members Bill debates, including Nigel Griffiths' Bill on Junk Food Marketing to Children, and Anne Snelgrove's on Energy Efficiency in Public Sector buildings. And on Saturday I'm due to speak at a rally on Zimbabwe and a conference on Palestine, both in Bristol. So at least another five speeches to prepare... Not to mention Transport questions, Treasury questions and PMQs.
By way of light relief, I'm also going to see Soulwax at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday night. I've seen them live before, and they were phenomenal, but that was a straightforward gig, whereas this will include their '2 Many DJs' stuff too. Should be really good.