Just before I went into the Cabinet meeting last night I received a phone call from Will, my son who is serving with 45 Royal Marine Commando in Helmand Province. He sounded pretty shook up, having just witnessed his first casualty in battle.
During November, five Royal Marine Commandos were killed in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Will's sargeant, who he was out on patrol with, had a leg blown off. Will was about 100 metres away at the time. Will's patrol group got this lad airlifted out, and then went in search of the Taliban forces who had attacked the patrol. It seems they got two of them, though, as is usually the case, the rest just disappeared.
My mind really wasn't on local politics after that conversation. But then, such is the nature of modern warfare, this afternoon came another phone call from Will. It seems his gran had sent him some tinned fish (!), but as everyone knows, you can't eat tuna without mayonnaise, so I have to head off to Sainsbury's to buy some mayo in a plastic bottle to send out! He also wants tinned mackerel, some Doritos and Nobby's Nuts, whatever they are.
It's just so surreal.