I spent the whole of yesterday in Norwich. It made me realise how much I miss the place. For those who don't know, I spent four very happy years at the University of East Anglia studying German in the early 1980s, then spent two years working for the then Norwich North MP, Patrick Thompson. I then went back to Norfolk in 2003 to stand for the Conservatives in North Norfolk and I write a fortnightly column for the Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press. Norfolk is a county which it is impossible to escape from. Even though I am from Essex, I still regard Norfolk as a second home.
Yesterday I went to see my old lecturer from UEA, Gordon Turner, who I hadn't seen for many years. He was one of those people in my life who went the extra mile to help me. One of those special people who enhance every life they touch. I wondered if he had changed, but I needn'thave worried. It was as if there hadn't been two intervening decades since I graduated.
I then went to the University campus to speak to 120 politics students, alongside Steve Richards from The Independent about how blogs are affecting the mainstream media. The session only lasted an hour but I really got the feeling that the students got a lot from it. There were some excellent questions. Afterwards I went for a drink with with a couple of the students. Wandering around the campus and student union building was very odd. it was as if the 24 years hadn't happened. Do other people feel like this when they visit their old school or university? I felt like a ghost, invisible to everyone else, yet somehow back where I spent four extremely happy years.
Later in the afternoon I went down to The Forum, in the City Centre, to do an interview with Radio Norfolk. I then wandered round to Tombland, which is where much of my socialising was done during my university years. It was very different. Pizza One, Pancakes Too has disappeared, the Louis Marchesi pub has become something called Take 5. But the Maid's Head hotel was still there, so I met up with my friend Deborah Slattery for a drink before driving back to London to do the BBC paper review.
Leaving Norwich I kept thinking how much I missed the place. I wonder if I will return one day, and this time for good.