Diary

I experienced something very memorable today and it was a huge privilege to be part of it. Bearing in mind I knew that many roads would be closed, I rose early, ate a good breakfast and headed to the tube and for Baroness Thatcher's funeral at St Paul's. Arriving on time, I soon bumped into many colleagues as we queued to pass through airport-style security. I took note of the many familiar faces: Alex Salmond, Jeremy Clarkson, Tom King, Julian Fellowes, Douglas Hurd and many, many others. What a guest list! How Mrs T would have laughed had she known all those years ago in her parents' grocer's shop that her funeral would attract so many distinguished people from around the world. The Service was stunning, with heart-rending hymns and beautifully sung anthems by the cathedral choir. The address by the Bishop of London was the best I've ever heard. He hit exactly the right tone and it was a moving eulogy to a great lady. Afterwards, we all strolled to the Guildhall, mixing with the great and the good, and just savouring the moment. At the reception, there were more familiar faces and I took the opportunity to meet Jeremy Clarkson, who was even taller than I imagined, and I'm big! The event was a very happy one and Mrs T would have liked the light touch that everyone adopted after a very emotional hour in church. Then, it was back to the Commons and back to earth. The debate on the Finance Bill continued until 10pm after which I headed back to Dorset. Sadly, I am attending another funeral tomorrow of one of our councillors, Peter Farrell, who died of cancer. These sad events serve as a reminder that we all have to face death one day so we must live life to the full before our mortality catches up with us. A memorable, incredible day. May Mrs T rest in peace, bless her.