For me, the joy of being on holiday is catching up on all those books you wanted to read but never had the time. Some had been gathering dust for over six months so here was the perfect opportunity to put that right. Pity about their combined weight, though. Before I go on holiday again I'm going to buy an iPad and download all the books I want to read on to that!
Anyway, my holiday was dominated by one man. Yesterday's man, certainly, but in his day an incredibly powerful force in British politics. Tony Blair? Peter Mandelson? No, Gordon Brown.
Reading Mandelson's The Third Man (best described as an entertaining romp) followed by Andrew Rawnsley's rather more authoritative The End of the Party, this reader was left in no doubt that throughout the Blair years Gordon Brown was the real power behind the throne.
But not in a good way. If you believe these books, Brown was a shit with a capital 'S'. (Rawnsley goes further, much further, implying that he was a liar and a hypocrite.)
Some will argue that Blair should have sacked his scheming Chancellor quite early on and the fact that he didn't was evidence of a weak PM. Inevitably it was a lot more complicated than that.
Imagine, however, working year after year with someone who openly wants your job, employs a team of people to undermine you, ignores or refuses to engage with you whenever it suits him, and repeatedly tries to bully you to step down so he can take your place. Most people would find that intolerable.
I'm no fan of Tony Blair but when I read what he had to put up with, day after day, year after year, from the man next door (and a so-called colleague) I marvel that he stuck it out as long as he did whilst maintaining a generally cheerful public persona.
Blair may be over-rated by some, but for this reason alone I take my hat off to him.