Every now and again a simple idea comes up, which takes you slightly unawares before your realise how good it is. 500 words is one of those.

It is too late for any youngster you know to enter the 2017 Chris Evans show ‘500 words’ competition on BBC Radio 2, but it is not too late for you to listen in the mornings to some of the remarkable entries. Over the next few weeks, building up to the announcement of the winners at the Tower of London, listeners to his show will be hearing from children aged 5-13 with their stories, written to a disciplined 500 words a time.

Read more: Bulletin Magazine March 2017 500 Words

One of the really good things about an MPs job, particularly those of us who look after England’s countryside constituencies, is the opportunity to meet with those who give up their time as volunteers to sit as our parish and town councillors, and their clerks who work so faithfully for them. Since being elected in 2001, I have met with those who do this on a regular basis, both to report back on what I am doing in Westminster, but more importantly to listen to what is going on locally, and what I may be able to do to assist in those matters where people are looking for help.

Read more: BedsLife March 2017 Grass roots meetings

The news that our police force in Bedfordshire had been rated 'inadequate', the only such mark in the country, will have come as a hammer blow to all those officers who put heart and soul into keeping us safe.

The modern determination to measure everything, which is largely good, then to condense to simplicity, which is largely bad, is thrown into sharp relief with this report. The fine print demonstrates Her Majesty's Inspector's praise for individual activities, from victim support to ensuring we are safe from very dangerous crime, interspersed with harsh criticism suggesting that the force 'fails to understand its community', which must be particularly wounding for officers living and working with those they protect. Then it all gets lumped together with 'inadequate'.

Read more: Burt on the Benches March 2017 Police report- harsh overall judgement from mixed bag of results.

Remember the short spell of freezing weather last month? There was a forecast which suggested snow across the midlands and south, travel difficulties – or ‘Blizzard Death Blows in from EU’ if you read the Daily Express?

However there was an evening of train holdups and some cold icy weather- not much snow. I was on a busy Thameslink, all stations to Bedford from Blackfriars, making up for an earlier cancellation, and checking Twitter when I came across this from ITV News “Know your rights if your journey is disrupted by winter storms”. Attached was a portfolio picture of London traffic in a blizzard, and a comprehensive guide as to who to claim compensation from, and how much, for the outrage of being inconvenienced by the weather.

Read more: Bulletin Magazine Feb 2017 Simple thank you

As President of Carers in Bedfordshire, and a former Minister for Community and Social Care, I have had long engagement with the phenomenon of our times - older age.

One of the startling facts of life in the United Kingdom post war has been increased longevity. Almost without exception, anyone reading this article has a longer expectation of life than when they were born. For many, these extra years will be fruitful and enjoyable. But for some they will be difficult, and for almost all there will be a greater need of medical care of some sort.

Read more: BedsLife Feb 2017 Social Care – an age old issue