“RUNNING around Parliament keeps you fit,” MP Neil Carmichael said as I tried to keep up with him from the House of Commons Chamber to Portcullis House.
He rarely paused for breath during his hectic schedule, but he did boast of his ability to do clapping press-ups, something which he says has become a bit of a party trick.
“The last time I did it was at the Conservative Party Conference and everyone was quite impressed because I had had a bit to drink."
Few can explain what it is that MPs actually do all day and Neil has often come under fire from his opposers for not doing all too much. So what better time then to follow Neil around for a day in London.
It’s 2.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon and Neil and I are practically running to make the Environmental Audit Committee for the first evidence session on the committee’s inquiry into marine protected areas.
We had spent the previous two hours answering a range of questions put forward by SNJ readers over lunch after sitting in on PMQs.
Unfortunately due to the tube strike I had missed Neil’s morning meeting with the Education Select Committee which focussed on academies and free schools, a contentious issue in Stroud.
Many criticise MPs but Neil is no slacker. Fourteen-hour days are not abnormal and neither are seven-day weeks.
He told me his work consumes so much of his life, it is little wonder how he fits in family time with his wife and three teenage children.
Daily business includes commitments to his party, reports to read and of course the popularity contest in his constituency never ends.
I asked Neil whether he is Stroud’s representative in Westminster or Westminster’s representative in Stroud .
He said: “That argument frustrates me so much.
“My opposers have to attack me it is their job but I have done lots for Stroud, such as taking local planning issues right to the top and asking questions about securing funding for railway investment, schools and firms."
Later in the day Neil voted on a motion put forward by the opposition to reform zero-hour contracts and we visited his office where there was a stack of casework and I waited while he replied to dozens of letters.
He was also confronted by a constant stream of emails throughout the day.
Neil said: “It is a lot of work but I enjoy it. I became a politician because I wanted to help people and make a change.”
There is no doubting Neil’s passion for the Stroud district and his desire to help it grow into a prosperous place to live and work.
From what I saw he is working hard to perform what is, after all, a challenging job, with long, unpredictable and unsocial hours where he is guaranteed to attract criticism from one quarter or another.
There was a vote due at 7pm so I left Neil confined to the precincts of the House until he finished for the day.