If a cancer-stricken elderly lady knocked on your door and invited you to a party, could you say no? Me neither. Though I did at first.
Let me explain: I had just come in from church a couple of weeks ago (five minutes later and I’d have missed her) and there was a knock on my door and this old lady asked me, ‘Are you interested in politics?’ When I said ‘Yes’ she wept on my shoulder with relief; when I told her in reply to her next question that I was voting Conservative, she asked if she could have my baby. We live in a strong Labour ward; there are blood and custard Labour posters all over the place. Well, I say ‘all over the place’ but I really mean ‘in one window in a house three streets away’ because these days ‘deprived area’ doesn’t mean ‘Russian revolutionary-style activism’ but, ‘if I could be bothered to vote at all, it would be Labour because I work in a low-paid job and don’t have much money and they are the party that will look after me by taxing me to death, from birth to death and everywhere in between; besides, that’s how my parents voted and furthermore, blue doesn’t suit me.’ My old lady wanted me in the audience for tonight’s ITV Leader’s Debate; a variety of types is needed and there aren’t many working class, Condervative-voting women around, apparently.
I have ranted about electors not bothering to elect in earlier posts so I won’t go there again, but I read a post yesterday that irritated me because it pointed up my inadequacies as a concerned voter: check out http://cubiksrube.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/democracy-in-the-uk/ and he will show you how the work of engaging voters should be done – by appealing to their inclination to do it all from home if they are going to do it at all. It is a really useful guide to this election.
Perhaps that is why the big media networks are so excited about the debates; it’s a way to interest a largely apathetic electorate. If we had X Factor-type shows where the duckhouse builders were voted out in the early rounds, it might be more interesting; it would certainly get a bigger turnout. I think it might have to be proportional representation instead of first-past-the-post politics, however, or we could lose a leader who’s having an off-night, because some perform better than others (naming no names). That’s what politics is really all about these days: who performs well in the media; who looks good. You can pass all the anti-discriminatory legislation in the world, but these days, I don’t see any polio-stricken, wheelchair-bound candidates applying for the job of Prime Minister of the UK or President of America; do you? It’s why I nag Tory Boy to visit the dentist regularly: he’ll never get elected with manky teeth. They are lovely, actually; and they’d better stay that way or it won’t be just the media making fun of him…Britain’s not gallant.
America has had leaders’ debates for fifty years, but this is our first one (of three). I almost turned down the opportunity to be in the audience because of the logistics of getting there: three buses and a ten-minute walk. It’s not getting there so much, but travelling home late at night. I can’t rely on the Hub being well enough to taxi me around so I always have to assume he can’t, make contingency plans, and cross my fingers that his M.E. won’t be our foe that day. As it happens, he has had a rough week and he is feeling it, so I will get the buses to Granada Studios and he will rest all day so that he can collect me. It’s only 23 minutes away but that’s a round-trip of an hour with waiting; it’s too much for him to do that twice today. Who knew M.E. was the enemy of the voting classes?
I wonder how the leaders (I keep wanting to add the words ‘Our Glorious’ to that, though I am not at all Orwellian) are travelling to Manchester? Not by air, I hope. Iceland, not content with losing millions of our British money, has allowed a volcano to erupt and thus stop those Brits with any money left from going on holiday to recover. A cloud of volcanic ash is snaking across Britain six kilometers above us, forcing flights to be cancelled. Britain is not amused. Questions will be asked tonight, I’m sure; demands to know why the Government has not acted on the issue of erupting volcanoes in foreign countries spoiling British holidays.
I doubt if I’ll get a chance to ask a question: I’m not going on holiday, for a start. But I heard someone say that, as the debate is only ninety minutes long, it’s likely that there will only be time for eight questions to be asked and answered. If the audience is one hundred strong – though I think it might be bigger – that gives me an 8% chance. I’m not holding my breath.
Back to my story: the lady at the door was drooping so I invited her in while we filled out the inevitable paperwork. It was then that she told me how peeved she was that she couldn’t attend the debate as a hostess because she was having ugly stuff cut from her stomach today. It was only after she left with my personal details (including passport number) that it occurred to me that it could have been an elaborate scam to steal my money and identity. Seventeen phone calls from ITV regarding security, questions I might wish to pose, and whether I have any metal body parts later and my fears were eased. The ticket arrived on Tuesday and, barring a last-minute hiccup when my stolen identity reveals me to be an Icelandic banker and thus persona non grab me in the face and smash me with a useless airline charter, I should be taking my seat around seven tonight. If you are watching, look out for me: I’ll be the woman in black hiding the right side of her face with straightened hair. I haven’t had my glasses fixed yet; I should have gone to Specsavers.
Yesterday’s prompt was to write a ‘cleave’ poem: it’s a fusion of two vertical poems to make one horizontal one. I wrote one last year as part of my South Africa collection, though I didn’t know then there was a name for the form:
crazy in love,
they see through
a fervid haze.
razing unjust laws,
passion scars, grazes
false cultural ideals.
black and white
race to connect,
skin on skin;
ignoring political sin.
Here’s a little other poem so that I have something new to post to fulfill the terms of the napowrimo agreement (write a poem every day):
I used to read
Before I forgot to