I normally use my column - as regular readers will have noted - to extol the virtues of Government policy and Conservative thinking. But occasionally I write about something completely different. Reflections on a week of volunteering in Rwanda teaching English; or the wonderful experience of a Saturday afternoon tea with Sutton's beekeepers in the Park.
So, encouraged by the huge number of emails and letters from Suttonians and beyond following the article in The Observer on the sad death of our beloved Molly – a Welsh Springer Spaniel - I thought I'd dedicate this column to Sutton's army of dog lovers and animal enthusiasts.
I'd always thought it a little mawkish to dwell too much on the death of any animal: tragedies take place up and down the country every day causing great pain which sometimes never goes away. But Suttonians who have lost a much loved family pet have told me of their profound sense of grievance.
Molly was a winner in more ways than one. She distinguished herself by winning the Westminster Dog of the Year 2010. For several years before that she refused to compete having been beaten to the finishing line by a Pug in 2005. But having finally recovered from this she competed successfully and became a bit of a celebrity! She presided at the annual Welsh Springer Spaniel convention in Derbyshire 2 years ago and had a huge amount of admiration in London (where she had her own pass to the Department for International Development) as well as in Sutton.
She was a regular contributor to Ed Stourton’s weekend article in the Daily Telegraph’s “Diary of a Dog Walker”. One constituent, angered at my stance on tough but fair immigration policies, informed me that Molly would make a much better MP for Sutton Coldfield than me! Indeed in 1982 a Springer Spaniel did stand for Parliament. His name was Bob and he represented the Monster Raving Loony Barking Mad Dog Party and belonged to Screaming Lord Sutch.
Molly was a regular visitor to Sutton Park, always taking a familiar route and panicking after following a scent so attentively she couldn't find us. Walking around the Park without her last Sunday after Sutton's Annual Civic Service was almost unbearably miserable seeing the places she used to stop, the water she'd always visit, and knowing she'd never walk with us again. It's the little things I particularly miss. Arriving home and hearing her bound up to meet me, her tail wagging furiously. Those gorgeous eyes staring soulfully into my inner being. The wonderful smell of damp dog after a wet walk. No more. It's agony.