It’s a Tuesday at 9pm and the local Liberal Democrat councillor has arisen from his seat for the 13th time of the night, to groans from the Tory benches.
All but one or two members of the public have dragged themselves away from Corrie to watch democracy in action – and until recently one of them was me.
As a political journalist primarily covering four councils, this scenario could be replicated an average of three to four times per week. Only one in my beat liked to discuss matters between tea and sarnies at lunch.
Hours were long, with meetings lasting anything from 15 minutes (to rightful criticism) to epics not only missing lunch but last orders at the pub. Most inconsiderate.
It’s not the best job to combine with home life at the best of times, let alone when there’s a baby in the equation with a mum ground down by eight hours of Peppa Pig DVDs on a loop or an infant who’s just discovered the secret to pulling clothes off the airer.
Read more: Reflux returns with a vengeance
So it was somewhat of a relief when, six months into life as a dad, a chance to put council life on hold for a year and take up a management role came up.
Being a content editor (see here to find out what that means in English) has its own challenges and, like any journalism job, the hours are rarely 9-5. But it’s fair to say the role is a far better bedfellow than chasing angry builders out of planning meetings and swapping bottle feeds for bottle recycling initiative debates.
I’m three months into my new role and I’m covering for a colleague who bravely decided to double her cache of small humans, a move which seems rather bold when considered from the point of view of someone barely catching up from those early sleepless nights. I’m pleased to say she appears to somehow be coping well!
It’s not meant no meetings at all, of course. Walking away after months of effectively setting up camp in town halls is kind of like leaving your baby at the supermarket.
Read more: Beating the ‘dadxiety’
Suffering from a severe case of planning committee withdrawal, so rare a disease that I am probably the world’s only recorded case, I couldn’t resist attending a big meeting a few weeks ago. When I told Hanna my plan, it’s fair to say it went down as well as the proposed blue and yellow, meatball-selling box did with locals.
But apart from that single blip, I’ve been clean of council business. It was weird at first but the valuable time it’s freed up to spend watching Albie develop has been magical – far better than returning home to a snoozing baby, especially when he has a habit of nicking my space in bed!
This week could be testing. I’m going solo in our office as the deputy editor, who lends a hand with the day-to-day tasks, is away on holiday.
Departing for the first time since I stepped up, he merrily said on Friday: “Don’t worry, the paper has never not come out before.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” I warned him – but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that!
Find out later in the week if the paper did indeed get out and if I’ve spearheaded any cock-ups when left to my own devices…