Last night was Chatham & Aylesford's Executive Council. Being C&A the venue for such meetings switch from one end of the constituency to the other, to ensure both "ends" feel involved. One month we are at the Church of Christ The King in Princes Park, where I deliver my report beneath a banner proclaiming "Listen To The Lord For HE Is Speaking Truth Unto YOU". Last night we were in Aylesford, in the small room above the Working Mens' Club, sandwiched between the bingo drum and the karaoke machine. Not for us the polenta-eating glamour of Islington.
The meeting went fine; they always do. I have never known an Association so totally unaffected by personality clashes or internal politics. Everything the Association does is aimed at one goal; winning whatever election is coming up next. C&A is Kent's smallest Association in terms of membership, but they deliver more leaflets, knock on more doors and recruit more postal voters than most of the others combined.
After the meeting one of the stalwarts asked for a "private word".
"Andrew, how much will you need to fight the next election?" he asked.
I gave an honest answer. I have known this particular member for 10 years, he is far from wealthy but he thinks the world of Tracey Crouch. I wondered what was coming next.
He reached inside his pocket and pulled out his cheque book. "That's quite a sum, isn't it?" I could feel 25 pairs of eyes looking at me, desperately trying to see what was going on. I braced myself, not quite knowing what to say or how to react. I was sure he couldn't really afford such a donation, but he was in sound mind and who was I to question his generosity.
Ever so slowly he opened his cheque book and riffled through the stubs. "...worth every penny to get her back in..." He stopped riffling and smiled. "Found it" he said. I tried to look on with enigmatic benevolence, not wanting to look too keen or hopeful.
He called me closer and showed me a cheque stub. perhaps he had already sent in a cheque. The writing was in a shaky hand and I couldn't read it.
"That, sunshine, could be the answer to the next election" he said. I explained that I couldn't quite read what was written. The tension was now unbearable. "It's the quarterly pre-payment for my National Lottery ticket, I promise you now, if my numbers come up, you will get every penny you need."
"That's really kind of you", I said, managing to smile wanly.
I returned to my seat. "What was all that about?" asked another member. "That meant we will still be holding lots of coffee mornings, jumble sales and quiz nights over the next 18 months," I replied, mournfully.