Ten weeks ago, I was an inveterate townie, whose viewpoint of the countryside was that it made an excellent place to keep things that I could eat (cows, pigs, chickens and the like), the view out of the window on train journeys more interesting and generally filled the gaps between places I have to go to for meetings.
You can therefore imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting in a meeting of the delegation for the forthcoming ELDR Congress in Berlin, arguing for an amendment to a sustainable transport resolution to reflect the needs of rural communities. I admit that there were some slightly puzzled looks around the table when they realised that such comments were coming from the delegate from the achingly rural constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood (we have parks - apparently).
However, spending time with Ros, and especially our weekends in Suffolk, have brought home how dominated the political agenda is by the big urban communities, especially London. The choice agenda, for example, fails to consider the likelihood that effective choice can be offered in rural communities, when schools may be five or more miles apart, when transport links are sparse (bus services that run once a month are not uncommon in the smaller villages), and where demand is slight in numerical terms but critical to the individuals concerned.
Another aspect of my approach that has changed is that I've rediscovered a bit of passion in terms of my politics. Bureaucracy and passion, as I've remarked in the past, don't generally go hand in hand, but Ros's approach, which is very outcome driven, has caused me to re-evaluate why I do things, and how the things that I do impact on others. I am reminded that I entered politics because I wanted to make things better, not simply to run things better (although this is, in itself, not an unlaudable aim).
It is curious how being in a relationship, and being obliged to think about someone else's needs, not just your own, makes you rethink the way that you see the world.