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Work on a full stomach...
Work on a full stomach

Monday: it's raining. In fact it's coming down in sheets. There's what in Yorkshire is known as a 'lazy wind' - too lazy to go round you so it goes straight through you. The only excitement is dodging the spray kicked up by passing lorries.

There's only one response to these conditions - a visit to J Stainforth's Celebrated Pork Pie Establishment in Skipton. I buy a large, hot pie and think of Jamie Oliver. The juice drains on to my blazer. It's going to be one of those days.

So there's only one thing to do - a sortie into Morrisons. I buy a large packet of kippered mackerel. I'm not allowed kippers at home. The last time I waved a packet at my wife, she fixed me with one of those looks which can freeze salt water at 100 metres. In the cottage in Yorkshire, kippers with pasta is one of my staple meals. I feel benign towards Jamie Oliver.

My neighbour invites me in for a whisky. Val has very sound intuition when assessing my need for refreshment. Pushing 70, Val is a mine of local folklore. I wave my bandaged thumb at her and tell her I mashed it up getting into the House of Commons' car park. I ended up in accident & emergency at St Thomas' Hospital. Coincidentally, my 87-year-old dad

had a fall and was carted to A&E a few days later.

Val looks horror-struck and goes to the kitchen for a match. 'Break this,' she insists. 'It'll break the run of bad luck.'

I make no further attempt to mangle myself but the match does nothing for the weather. It snows over the tops. Tuesday is made worse by the arrival of the Conservative campaign guide - all 718 pages. It is dedicated to illustrating how the election of Labour will mean the end of civilisation as we know it; how the Liberals are in favour of pestilence and destruction; and, hence, how the survival of freedom and democracy depends on the election of a Tory government.

Repair to a local sandwich shop which makes a serious meal in a panini - think of Jamie Oliver and order a bag of crisps as well.

Wednesday. Settle for a panini mardi gras. Omit the crisps but buy a bottle of cranberry juice. The drink is especially good for something or other relevant to gentlemen who have qualified for their bus pass. Since I have a pass, a senior citizens' railcard, a Freedom Pass and the winter fuel allowance, I am in the cranberry juice zone. Actually it's pretty boring: wonder if a shot of vodka might improve it?

If it's Thursday, it's Ripon market. It's raining, of course. The Greeks selling olives, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes look like they've ended up on the dark side of the moon. Repair to Appleton's. They make a lattice pie worth killing for. My French mother-in-law once waxed lyrical about the pâté de porc en croute I brought back from Ripon. I'm sure if Mr Appleton suspected he was making pâté en croute, he would be most upset. Eat a lattice pie with a cup of tea in the old Methodist chapel which serves as Tory base in Ripon. Think of Jamie Oliver and have one of Connie's homemade biscuits.

Friday: it's tipping down. We have the election literature pretty well fettled, though my agent has vetoed the picture of me sporting a red nose in the middle of a gang of students. I say it makes me look human. He says it makes me look daft. Celebrate by repairing to Busy Lizzie's and having two large fish and mushy peas. Think of Jamie Oliver and order chips.

Saturday: take day off.

Sunday: it's not raining. Grassington Farmers' Market. The Yorkshire Dales washed and sparkling in the sun. There's a stall selling very appetising pecan pies. I love pecan pies. I think about Jamie Oliver: hell, he hasn't got an election to fight. It will see me through until lunch . . .

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