James Grundy MP: Fascinating to discover what children want to know

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As November turns to December, it feels very much as though winter is finally closing in.

Autumn has been reasonably warm, and the leaves fell from the trees rather late this year.

The weather seems to be very much making up for the extra few warm weeks we were granted, with wind-driven drizzle, strength-draining cold mist and fog, and a searing cold that bites deep into uncovered flesh now present instead.

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There is as yet no snow predicted for our part of the world so far as I am aware, but I would be very reluctant to bet against a white Christmas this year.

Leigh MP James GrundyLeigh MP James Grundy
Leigh MP James Grundy

Snow is of course, a source of great joy to children, and a source of great annoyance to adults.

I suspect the tipping point comes when being inside and warm is calculated as being a greater provider of enjoyment than hurling a ball of snow into the faces of our friends and loved ones. For some, this tipping point comes later in life than for others.

It is to be hoped that if snow does come this winter, it does not come in such amounts that everyone is inconvenienced by it. Even children can grow tired of snow if there is too much of it.

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Speaking of children, I visited, both virtually and in person, a number of schools in my Leigh constituency for UK Parliament Week.

School children can often make for a very interesting audience because of their honesty, which means the questions are often the most difficult to deal with, as well as being the most illuminating as to what ordinary families are discussing at the dinner table.

I can honestly say that Larry the Downing Street cat was a very popular subject among the children, which is not surprising really, as animals are popular with the great British public, and Larry, as of yet, has not had to make any difficult policy decisions about public spending.

What did surprise me, however, was that the other subject that came up during those school visits was the presence of former Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the jungle, appearing on TV show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

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Of course, we know now that Matt Hancock eventually came a respectable third on the show, but at the time, the theory in common currency among Parliamentarians was that Matt would be eating a solid diet of nothing but kangaroo bottoms until the public could eject him from the show at the earliest opportunity.

It came as a surprise to me that the children had such an interest in Matt, and not in a cartoon villain sense, but a genuine interest in who he was and what he was like.

Whilst not approving of what Matt did, both the words of the children and the results of the TV vote perhaps showed that the public are surprisingly forgiving, certainly more than I had considered.

Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo, of course, after famously losing his seat in the 1997 election, went on to become a well-liked TV personality.

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I suspect Matt Hancock may step down at the next election. Could Matt Hancock become the next Michael Portillo? I wonder how much Matt likes talking about trains?

Only joking, of course, but only half joking, perhaps.