Green shoots

Another Lib Dem AGM last night – this time the Brentford and Isleworth branch. They'd tempted Ed Davey MP down from the House of Commons to be the guest speaker. Brave man – he took the train, which to Isleworth is the sort of adventure that often ends in tears. You expect to find Marlon Brando at the end of your journey, muttering “the horror, the horror”. During the 2000 GLA elections we surveyed passengers there on what they thought of the service – one replied saying the station was “like a scene from psycho”.

Ed's a good speaker, and he performed well. The message was “optimism! ambition!”, and he overran the time he'd planned to be with us. This presented a problem as he had to be back at the House for the Iraq debate. We gave him a lift back to Isleworth station – but since the driver never returned, I suspect he may have driven him all the way to Westminster. Hope he made it.

The logic behind Ed's optimism was that, although there have been good periods for the Lib Dems / Liberals in the past, never before have we have had so much credibility as a serious party. And the Iraq debate looks to have been a good example of that. The government tries to side-step the question of whether Parliament should have a say over military action. Backbench Labour MPs rebel. What does the opposition crystallise around? A Lib Dem motion. The Tories – the 'official' opposition – support the government. But someone's got to stand up to Blair and remind him he's democratically accountable.

This last month has been a bit frantic politically, and it will get worse before it gets better, but there has been other stuff going on too. Went out to the allotment both mornings at the weekend, trimming back brambles and a small oak tree that was being choked by them. There were nettles that had literally grown ten feet tall in an attempt to get some leaves into the open air above the bramble thicket. I bought a rather nifty hand saw, with a blade that retracts into its handle and a clip to attach it to your belt. I'm a sucker for belt-mounted gimmicks. I also bought a huge back-support belt – it looked like something a weightlifter would wear but it did the job. I'm still getting twinges of back pain but nothing like what I feared I was in for. Lisa gathered up some windfall apples that had fallen onto our patch from a neighbouring semi-derelict one – me, being Mr Picky, was very dubious about them but ate them last night in pancakes without remembering where they'd come from… and thought them very fine indeed. Much to my surprise, I'm really into this allotment idea. Never would have thought it.