Election Diary 4: The Apocalypse
The Last Day, the Day of the Apocalypse. Scudding clouds, patches of dribbling rain, ignored. Absolutely no relevance. This is between me and you, God, whoever you are.
The Labour party office in the great Victorian mansion on the corner has no ghosts. They were scoured out and hung to dry by determined renovators in the seventies or eighties. Even the ghosts of the ghosts have given up and left the skeletal remains of this utterly Bourgeois edifice with its colonnaded balcony and stained glass in the stair window to become dead office space. Office after cluttered office, full of lefties. Of which apparently I am one.
Are these my people? Varied ages. The young are university students, full of Jeremy worship, determined to shake and change the world. They are Jeremy’s Angels. (It tickles me that Jeremy Corbyn’s initials match those of the alleged Saviour of Mankind. You know the one who, convinced his daddy was God, made the mistake of telling everyone so they nailed him to a tree instead of sectioning him and calling out a psychiatrist.) Then the Old Stagers, stooges, walruses, pub dwellers… the most active and evident being the Women of a Certain Age. (to see what they look like, put ‘Crucifixion’ into Google images and look at the women standing around the cross. Only these are far more cheerful.) Superbly efficient, these lovely ladies churn out tea, organise the canvassers, arrange food, leaflets, and tirelessly go walkies in pursuit of potential voters. Stalwarts.
Lefties come in
ALL shapes and sizes.
Some of them
Are nice surprises!
Taking the Gospel to the Peoples
Attached to two young Jeremy’s Angels, I was expelled into the streets of Chiswick. Our mission: visit each Labour voter on the list attached to the clipboard and remind/hassle/nag/beg them to get out and vote.
My companions: He – the usual nearly beard in typical neo-hipster scragginess gleefully accenting a face miles away. I mean, at an absurd height for little people like me. Studying his Masters in Environmental Science. ‘Almost a Green’, he said when I gave him my stock phrase of only being there on loan from the Green Party. She: a creature of sharpness, efficiently moulded into steely self-confidence shaped by conviction. Second year Medicine at King’s. Great, I thought gloomily, these will move too fast for my small and painful legs. I will be scrabbling after them like a Hobbit chasing after elves.
I was right about that. Immediately deep in each-others’ eyes, the two moved off in a flash of clipboard and chat. I chirped after them, hey I live in this area unlike you and I know the way, but there was no point. They had determined, in between door knocks, to get lost and so they did. And when finally they managed to disentangle enough to ask, right at the end of the door knocking session, we were heading at speed in quite the wrong direction.
The knocking was pretty futile. The members were mostly out at work. Of course! Middle of the day. In the week. And spread out, sprinkled across the streets of Chiswick which is really a very Tory area.
Tea, cake, Lunch. I slipped off home to make an egg. No, not lay an egg! Though that was what I wanted to do. I hate being ignored. I have suffered this with young people before. They have a task or a problem. I know how to do it or what the solution is. They completely ignore my attempts to save them time and hassle and I just give up on trying to help. It’s their stereotyping of old people of course, plus a need to develop their own skills perhaps. So it’s a case of wth rather than wtf. Forgive me for stereotyping you, dear reader but if you’re an old person not quite in the Social Media newspeak : What the Hell, rather than What the Fuck.
Another Chiswick knocking round after lunch: this time with a blessed WCA (Woman of a Certain Age) who is slightly younger than me. A Quaker who spins and weaves. Yes, really! Who runs an organisation opposing the third runway at Heathrow. Nearly a Green! With the slightest trace of an American accent. And someone thank goodness who walks at the same pace as I do.
We repeated the morning’s knocks without any more success and returned to the Mansion. From which we were sent to Hounslow and I had the WCA and two keen lads allocated to me.
What a difference! Labour voters were thick on the ground. No, not thick – they are Labour voters ffs (fa fucksake) so how can they be thick. This is Real London. A mix of people from everywhere. Asian, Somali, Polish, even a few English. Our knocking took us into deep crowded Council estates, gated posh communities, along roads full of the babble of being, becoming and belonging. We were talking, talking, talking. Laughing a lot. I so loved stopping people on the street with “Have you voted yet?” and then observing the process. First, a flicker of resentment at being addressed by a stranger in the street. Then the suspicion that money was about to be asked for. Followed by recognition of the Labour badges and rosettes. Then, usually, a meeting of eyes. And then comes the sudden lovely broad splash of a smile and connection. Either, “Just voted. Corbin all the way!” or Yes Labour or variations on that. So much love , determination and joy. A liberated people! Worship JC!
Highlights: Woman in a wheelchair outside the tube, bedecked with Save the NHS posters and Vote Labour, giving out handmade leaflets on why the Tories are a bad thing. I gave her a hug, she needed it badly. Then Sara who had left her bag on a bus, was ill, was late, was ‘about to vote but so much on my mind’. I found her polling station online, gave her lots of love and I’m sure she went off and voted. Love you, Sara. I miss you.
So I really know what being an Apostle feels like.
Shit, that’s real.
Total walked, according to my Health app:
I didn’t sleep badly, even though I left the radio on all night. I heartily recommend 4 mg Melatonin plus half a one-a-night Nytol herbal. That’s not much chemicals for a very satisfying dream-filled six hour nap on election night.
I woke to a “hung” parliament. The Tories’ majority in total has gone. The Corbyn surge has incredibly surged. The young have risen and, sick of things as they were have resolved to make things as they could be. And incredibly, they throng to the Corbyn bandwagon because he promises to change the world and make it fair. Just like the former bearer of those initials. Hallelujah! I am so happy and proud that somebody from my generation could mobilise the young, inspire and marshall their support. Our very own Bernie. So hello, companions of my first Chiswick expedition who ignored me – huh????
Theresa Maybe will still form a Government, she has just returned from Buckingham Palace. I hope the Queen told her what a Maybe she is. She won’t last of course, she has visions of staying on but the Tory Grandees will make her step down soon. Then there’ll be another wtf election. Boris Johnson is already angling for the leadership again. Nightmare. Trump in US and Johnson in UK.
Results for my two projects: Molly Scott Cato (Green Bristol West) – failed to get in. Well, I knew that would happen.
But Ruth Cadbury (Labour, Brentford and Isleworth) whose majority was 465 votes in the last election got 35,364 votes, and the Tory Mary Macleod 25,182. Nice. You do the math. Well, to help: Ruth up 13.6%, Mary down 5.3%.
I know that 5 of Ruth’s votes can be unequivocally attributed to me. (Including my own.). Oh well, I’ll do better next time. But what fun! I wanna play! I want to be a politicker!
So JC has entered Jerusalem, riding on his donkey. Perhaps it’s not the Apocalypse after all. A few more months to go. No doubt they will nail Jeremy to a tree at some point, or call for a psychiatrist. Watch his pace.