It's been a bit hectic over the past seven years. Having returned to UK party politics after a number of years on the sidelines, I threw myself into the deep end and hoped that an inability to swim wouldn't be fatal.
And now I know the result. Six years as a Regional Officer, three years as first consort to the candidate and then to the President, an election campaign of my own and all manner of stuff besides, left me seventy pounds heavier and vaguely annoyed that, despite the fact that I know that I'm making sense, people who should be paying attention aren't, this causing me grief in attempting to make up for their inadequacies. I've also begun to forget that Liberal Democrats don't have a monopoly on virtue.
Meanwhile, the rest of my life is happy, rewarding and increasingly seductive. I do things that are, whisper it softly, fun. I don't spend my weekends attending stupid meetings of English Council, or feeling guilty that I haven't carried out some task that nobody actually cares about but really ought to be done. Best of all, when someone tells me that it would be great if I did something that would help them out but does nothing for me, I simply don't do it (unless, like Auntie Helen, I like them). I don't have to do bureaucracy, but can instead think about stuff, the bigger picture, why the sky is so blue, random things that intrigue me.
This week, I'm on holiday. Now, for those of you that know me, you might expect there to be a big metal tube with wings involved, as Ros and I jet off to somewhere unexpected. Not this time. Instead, I'm having a Suffolk week - I'll tell you all about that another time. It's gentle, and we're catching up with old friends, seeing parts of the county I haven't seen before, visiting some of the places that make our little corner of rural England so special. And I'm not missing you. Not 'you' as in individuals - I'm rather fond of some of you, for different reasons - but you, as a Party. I'm still a liberal, I'm still a democrat, and I'm certainly not handing in my membership card, up for renewal in January.
But I'm a bit burnt out. I should have realised this, when faced with the task of getting my photograph submitted, I just didn't get round to it. Booking a hotel just seemed like an expensive hassle, for an event I wasn't thrilled about. So, I'm not going. I'm up for re-election as Regional Secretary in October. But actually, I don't want to do it anymore. So, I'm not standing for re-election.
Politics has been my life for seven years, and it has lost some of its appeal. But I am still a Parish councillor, something which gives me a great deal of pleasure, I have a life which has put a smile back on my face, I have my Suffolk activities, my family and my work with Unlock Democracy, a job which remains curiously fulfilling, and, most of all, I have Ros.
So, it's time to interact with the Party on my terms for a bit, to take a deep breath and slow down to a pace more of my suiting. There are some things that I'd like to do, if people will let me, and we'll see how those pan out. And, of course, I'll still be supporting Ros in what she does - and very important that's going to be too - so I'm hardly retiring into obscurity.
And then I'll be back, possibly with that slightly bemused look as I potter about, but with a twinkle in my eye, a smile and a kind word for my friends, and a proper sense of proportion for the vagaries of party politics.