BRUSSELS on Wednesday and back again today. Three hours in the Commons answering questions. Another radio phone-in with the public. Meetings dawn to dusk ... 
Never mind matching Theresa May’s schedule, simply reading it is exhausting.
Regardless of what you think of the Prime Minister's politics, a certain respect is due for still being on her feet and fighting after a punishing few weeks selling a Brexit deal that a majority of MPs do not want to buy. She may have a full set of luggage under her eyes as a result, but it remains full steam ahead in the direction of travel she has set herself.
Mrs May is not alone among political leaders in working round the clock. Such are the demands on modern premiers it can be difficult to take the foot off the pedal for fear of events overtaking. No matter the time, there is always a stock market open or a journalist tweeting.
Gone, for most, are the days when politics could be treated as a sideline and the Commons as a jolly nice club to have a drink in after a day at the Bar. Now it is considered a good night if a premier can squeeze in a few "zzzs" after the paper review on Sky and the start of Today.
Some leaders make it a point of pride to put in Stakhanovite hours. Aides of Margaret Thatcher boasted she could get by on a stiff whisky and a few hours’ sleep. Tony Blair pitched himself to the public as a new, fresh face, a change from the knackered, in every sense, Tories. 
Blair put in the hours even before he became PM. I recall one year, just before Christmas, when I had to head back to the Commons to retrieve a gift I had forgotten to bring home. The place was in recess and deserted; it was cold and dark outside. All sane folk were fireside with their families.
Then I saw a camera light on College Green. An interview was going on. Standing there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like some insomniac squirrel, was the young Shadow Home Secretary Tony Blair. He had on a suit and tie, with the training shoes he was wearing the only hint it had been a day off when he took the call requesting an interview. Just off to the side, bored and waiting for him to hurry up and finish, were his children. Now that is dedication to the cause, even if the cause in question is your own career advancement.
With so much pressure on them, the modern leader needs a way to switch off, one that, if possible, boosts rather than harms their image. Churchill would not get away with his cigar-smoking and Champagne-drinking today. As for relaxing in the bath while dictating letters to his secretary, forget it.
Nicola Sturgeon’s idea of a terrific Saturday night involves a novel and a sofa. Angela Merkel’s best weekends feature walking boots. Golf is a popular choice, particularly for US presidents. Both Obama and Trump, though they have precious little in common otherwise, are fond of spoiling a good walk with a round. They have their vices, too, whether it be a sly cigarette and a late night box set for Obama, or hamburgers in bed at 6.30pm for Trump.
Mrs May’s work rate is even more impressive given her diabetes. Like everything else, she just gets on with it.
A supportive partner always helps. While Mrs May is not much given to talking about her life behind a closed Downing Street door, she did tell the Daily Mail that she had got through the past week with the help of Penderyn Welsh whisky (“though I do drink Scotch as well!”), and her husband Philip’s beans on toast.
She exercises regularly and goes to church. Then there is her interest in clothes. Vogue, the magazine, not the Madonna routine, was her choice of luxury on Desert Island Discs.
Perhaps today’s leaders throw themselves into work because they sense time passing and know they will not be in power forever. Post-politics retirement can be long. Mrs May, for all her determination to battle through, might yet find this out for herself before the year is out. 


WHERE do you stand on Footiegate?
We refer of course to the after-hours keepy-uppy session by the SNP’s Hannah Bardell and four other MPs, one Tory, three Labour, in the Commons chamber.
After the member for Livingston tweeted a video of the larks to publicise a new parliamentary women’s team, the Speaker, John Bercow, made clear he was as sick as a parrot over the group’s antics.
“Our historic chamber should not be used for this type of activity,” he told the Commons. 
I am in two minds about the stunt. The Bardell video is cringey. All that nylon, for a start. Shudder.
Then again, the chamber has seen worse, from Michael Heseltine seizing the mace to the sexist gesturing women MPs used to face when they got up to speak.
It is also rather rich of Mr Bercow to lecture others about propriety when his wife was once photographed wearing just a bedsheet and standing at a window with the Commons in the background. Stones and glass houses, Mr Speaker.


PUT away the curling tongs Kirsty, cancel the personal trainer, Emily. It looks like Fiona Bruce will be the new David Dimbleby on Question Time.
Bruce, known as Fifi to pals, was thought to have had only an outside chance of landing the gig. But she knocked it out the park at her audition, coming across as both authoritative and good with the punters.
I am not surprised. Jan Ravens plays Bruce in Dead Ringers as part pussycat, part newsreader, flirtatiously purring her way through a bulletin. “Hello. I’m Fiona Bruce,” Ravens/Bruce once introduced herself. "Grasping the teat of news and milking it for all it’s worth." Dreadful way to portray a serious woman journalist, but funny.
There is just one slight problem with Bruce taking over QT: how will she fit it in with Antiques Roadshow? That’s easy. The BBC should combine the two. Audiences could be asked to bring along a question, and something from the attic they would like to cash in on. As for the panel, make it half antiques experts, half politicians. The experts would certainly talk more sense.


AFTER Black Friday get set for Cyber Monday, when online Christmas shopping hits a peak.
Given the rotten year it has been it is little wonder retailers are going all out to whip up excitement. 
Blame it on year-round discounting, but it is it is hard for shoppers to get excited about sales the way they used to. Oh, for the old days when women knocked seven shades of fitted sheets out of each other to get their hands on the last towel bale. My, the thrill when a friend was the first in line for the Next sale and got a too small top they didn’t need in a colour they hated, but it was HALF PRICE!
My worst buy was a pair of boots I could not zip up in the shop. Never mind, I thought, I’ll diet. Only it turns out that losing weight has no effect on Gavin Hastings-like calves. The boots are still in the cupboard as a reminder that a bargain is only a bargain if you would have bought it normally. 
If anyone would like to swap a towel bale for a pair of never worn boots, let me know.