Today, I attended the first non-religious meeting that I have been to for many months.
The venue was the beautiful Bedwelty House in Tredegar (where Marlene, my wife, and I were married last year); the speaker was the former Home Secretary – and now successful author – Alan Johnson, MP.
Chairman was our own local MP, Nick Smith.
The former Home Secretary’s autobiography has been received very enthusiastically and with many positive reviews by the media.
During his talk, Mr Johnson shared with us his personal background of how his mother had struggled to raise her family in the slums of the 1950s Notting hill Gate (London)
His family life in the 1950s in Notting Hill Gate was very different to the Notting Hill portrayed in the film starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
His life has been played out against the background of a vanishing community in condemned housing, through the race riots, Chelsea in the swinging 60s to making a record and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.
Although his talk was not especially political, it would not have been complete without mention of his time as Home Secretary and to the tensions caused by the negative energies created between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
I had a brief chat with Mr Johnson after the meeting in which I mentioned that one of my favourite television programmes is ‘This Week’ in which Mr Johnson regularly appears with Michael Portillo and Andrew Neil.
He told me that ‘This Week’ has an audience of around 1.6 million.