Sitting here in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons, Saints George, Andrew, David and Patrick gazing down at me from their mosaics, and Lord Gladstone (known to the security guards as Old Baggie) on his plinth to my left.
The guard in the white shirt is Brian, who in a previous incarnation as a traffic warden once issued a parking ticket to Chris Eubank, and lived to tell the tale.
Speaking of the monocled one, he's just been confirmed as the speaker for my party on 5th October. Love him or hate him, he's bound to be entertaining.
Yesterday I was talking with Victoria Humphries (nee Riches) who in 1998 with her mother formed part of the first all-female team to walk to the North Pole. 'Apparently,' she said, 'if Scott had taken 10 extra steps a day, he would have got to the South Pole ahead of Amundsen.'
We're not sure if this is truth or myth, but the principle stands.
Sir Clive Woodward gives motivational talks based on his experience of striving for sporting excellence. He cites an example of finding that something extra - he heard of eyeball exercises, the idea being that with training the eyes can be made more responsive and more able to, for example, track a fast-moving rugby ball. So in addition to training legs, arms, back and chest, he had his players training their eye muscles. Did it make the difference between success and failure? Who knows for sure? But if it helped engender a BELIEF that they were the better prepared team, and a CONFIDENCE that they would win, it must have been a contributing factor.
Note to self to remember importance of this. Fortunately Victoria's message of support will keep reminding me.
On the news this morning I heard that IBM are teaming up with Swiss scientists map the human brain cell by cell on the Blue Gene supercomputer.
In April 2003 the completion of the Human Genome Project was announced. It was billed as 'a map of humankind... the entire print-out of DNA... the greatest scientific breakthrough for medical science... essential for the development of the bio-industry and human health.'
In June Google Earth was launched - 'a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop'. And if you fancy 'travelling' further afield, you can even go to Google Moon.
We seem to live in an age obsessed with documenting our worlds both internal and external. It's fascinating stuff, and if it helps in improving the human condition then so much the better.
But will it?
Will understanding how the brain works make us any happier? There are thousands of books about good nutrition and the importance of exercise, but there is an unprecedented epidemic of obesity.
Does understanding our DNA make us as individuals feel healthier, understand our bodies any better?
Will seeing the earth in glorious 3D (or its developed countries, anyway - 'Coming Soon - The Third World!') make us behave more respectfully towards our fragile planet? Will it stop me getting lost in the Wandsworth one way system?
I acknowledge these are the ill-informed and simplistic comments of an ignoramus. I am bracing myself to be shot down in flames.
But I stand by my fundamental question. We are better-informed. But are we any wiser?
It doesn't look like much - yet. But this is the first component of my revolutionary new heel-steering system with its designer, Richard of Dolphin Quay Boatyard. The two diamond shapes are where my feet will rest. The left footplate is fixed, the right one pivots on a bar underneath the ball of my foot.
Heel down, toes up, turn right. Heel up, toes down, turn left. Or was it the other way round? Anyway, once I've got that minor detail sorted out, it's going to be a very cool way to control the rudder, and quite unlike anything I've seen on any other ocean rowing boat.
On paper it looks great. Let's hope it looks as good on the water.