A night to remember……
The big night came. Thursday the fifth of May. Me and the Missus get all togged up in our best election winning gear, slap on the old red and white rosettes, do a double clench fist pose in front of the mirror whilst shouting "Come and get my seat if you think you’re hard enough"….. and we’re off. We have a date with destiny.
And then we’re not.
Because I thought this might be a night to remember – I reckon I’ll need my camera to record the great event, the very moment I’m declared a Member of Parliament.
Fantasy over. I’ll be made up to get 50 votes.
We arrive at the Civic Hall in Ormskirk. The main players are already in. The Labour crew look like mafia hoods and molls – all grey hair, badly fitting dark suits and chin stubble. The men looked pretty rough as well.
The Tory cadre are typically posh. Tweed, tatty hair-cuts, lots of comb-overs, ruddy cheeks, red fleshy ears and the most enormous blue velour rosettes abound. Amongst the old fogies and blue rinses are a couple of well fit posh totties. I fantasise, riding crops, rounded vowels and shapely, well filled blouses, tiffin, Ferraris’……
Suddenly, a big neon, yellow-coated plod ushers us towards the interior of the hall, proper. The Lib Dems flounce around in their Hush Puppies, aged slacks and round, penny-collar lemon shirts. They’ve all got clip-boards and LibDem-yellow pens – and are trying to outdo each other in officious speed-walking around the hall. They all appear to be called Jeremy, Barry and Isabel….
We stroll in. It’s just like the Ringo kid and Mrs Ringo Kid gallooting their way into Dodge City’s most notorious Saloon…
We ain’t looking for trouble, we’ve just come in off the trail. We mosie on in.
The entire Hall goes quiet.
The Hum stops. The Drum is silenced. Two hundred pairs of politically biased eyes look us over. Think, think think!!!
What would Blair or Howard do in a situation like this?
I check my flies and give a weak as water wavette.
We seek sanctuary in the form of the nearest pair of seats. The spell is broken and counters, tellers, Mafia bosses, Barry, Jeremy and posh totty get back to the business of checking votes.
We survey the activity – and it’s frantic. Voting slips are being dumped onto desks and sorted into bundles - It’s 11 o’clock at night. It’s pretty clear that we are the Electoral Virgins here because we’ve rather over judged the dress code - and appear to be the only ones to have bothered to get togged up at all. It looks like tat-central in that place – almost as if a jumble sale is about to start, and the customers are wearing the stuff on sale.
In the middle of the Hall, rising like a big, black risey thing with white lettering on the sides, are the ballot boxes. They are stacked higher than a stack of corrupt politicians – and that’s high. Now and again, a student is sent over to get another box and tips the contents all over the desks. The counters count. After an absolute age, I check with Alfreda. "What’s the time then?"
"5 past 11".
It’s going to be a very, very long night.
The UKIP Candidate saunters over to us. "What a bloody crap night we’re having" he says. "D’you know what, I should have voted for you lot, our only policy is to get out of Europe….. we’re bloody crap".
His agent nodded in agreement "Yeah, UKIP’s finished - I reckon you’ll be pushing us pretty close tonight, mate. It’s a bit of a bummer – we’ve had a full time crew out canvassing, full time in this constituency for a month now".
I inwardly smirk, smug in the knowledge that these guys are actually worried about little old me and not admitting that since the great ego that is RKS left them, they’ve been withering away.
The Labour Don, the boss of bosses cruises past with his little flotilla of fags. They are handing out real red roses to their team. Righteous indignation takes hold of me. I wanted to say – "Hey Don-Bollocks, what the bloody hell are you guys hijacking my country’s emblem for – got a bloody cheek haven’t you?"
Instead, I seethe and decide to twiddle with my rosette flanges. It helps to calm me down.
I think it’s about time I strolled around the tables to check that fair play and democracy is being served. I stroll like a Statesman, stiff-legged and hands behind my back I really do look the bizz – Lord of all I survey.
In spite of my very best efforts I can’t find one, not one voting slip that has a cross next to my name. It’s very depressing. And then – I see it. Result, hat trick, loss of virginity and passing driving test all in one gloriously orgasmic moment. And I know it’s not the one that I filled in, this one’s got a ‘tick’ next to my name. A tick for God’s sake – will they say it’s legal? Of course they do! My pile is off and growing! I am a Statesman after all. I glide over to Alfreda.
"Why are you walking like a twat?"
"Sorry, I thought I was walking like Prince Charles"
It’s now 2 am in the bloody morning. With 200 people in one airless room it’s getting hot and stale and manky. Still the counting goes on. I compare piles of votes. The Labour woman has millions, an entire forest worth of paper has been shovelled into the corner called ‘winner’. Next is the Tory – he’s a decent guy really – and almost local to boot. The Lib Dem is clearly disappointed – he was pretty arrogant throughout this keenly fought contest and this looks like the final straw. His pile wouldn’t even start a boy scout’s fire. Suddenly, the entire Lib Dem contingent flounce out. Suddenly, there’s a lot less yellow around the room. Suddenly, Hush Puppies are silent….. Ladies and Gentlemen - Barry, Jeremy and Isabel have left the building.
I catch the eye of the Returning Officer. "When do you reckon then – the declaration?"
"Oh we should have everything ready for 4ish"…..
Well they weren’t ready for 4 ‘ish’ - more like gone 5’ish’ actually. We are called over – the Labour manikin wins by miles. Tory second, Lib Dem third, UKIP fourth just – bugger!…
And me with 525 voteroonies. I didn’t even come last – some indy brought up the rear a good 300 votes behind me.
By the time the Labour manikin finishes her speech of thanks, the audience have obviously had enough – it’s light outside and the birds are tweeting. I nervously finger my well-crafted, 4 page speech in my pocket. Everyone else is giving short ‘n’ sharp speechettes. The UKIP guy can’t be bothered to say anything he’s so pissed off, so it’s my turn. I pull out the wad of A4, the crowd sigh.
What would Mel Gibson say at a time like this? Easy, He’d chuck the speech away, thank the Returning Officer, Jane and Anne Marie, his assistants, the counters and his agent. Then he’d shout "Freedom" at the top of his voice….. Ohhh, and "We demand an English Parliament Tony - or else"…
Everyone claps. I don’t know whether it was the message in my speech or the relief at its brevity. I punch the air, hoping against hope that just at that moment, Tony Blair had somehow fallen through the ceiling above to meet my well clenched fist.
The winning Labour candidate, or ‘cardboard box’ as she is known in this area looked at the floor. Bloody hell, I’m no Reg Keys but she looked just a little embarrassed there I think. I walk over to her to shake her hand….
"Hi Rosie, congratulations….. Oh, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me in the future"…
She looked worried. She obviously didn’t know that I am a fully paid up member of the awkward squad….. But she does now!
Triumphant. I link arms with my agent, my soul mate, my wife Alfreda. We deftly avoid all the no-mark local hacks trying to interview anyone wearing a rosette and saunter past the guard of plod at the door. We stroll out into the weak, watery wet morning light and go home.
The deposit was lost – but it just didn’t matter. By standing I had given people in the constituency an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction at the current political system – all 525 of them.
What was it Bill Shankly once said? "First is first and second is nowhere"…..
Well you were wrong Billy boy. Great footy manager you might have been, but you knew bugger all about elections.
First is first is a cardboard box, but 525 is a bloody miracle mate…..