Saturday, 8 May 2010

Oli's Bus Trip Election Special

I was travelling from Cirencester to Derby on Polling day. At the start of my journey, stopping in small towns in the Cotswolds, all tree-lined avenues and cafes, voters are offered a cream tea in their booths while they cross the box with Parker fountain pens attached to a bit of string. In Stratford-Upon-Avon their polling stations have signs outside saying Much Ado About Voting, and you use a quill.

That night in Derby I watched as much of the BBC election special as I could while my host, a stranger to me, busied himself around me in an inappropriately tactile manner. (Excuse my prim Englishness. I didn't vote Conservative. I don't want change). The BBC coverage astounded me. The whole thing was more of a parody of news than anything done by Chris Morris or Armando Ianucci. Emily Maitlis, with her crap iPhone wall, looked awkward bending down slightly further than her skirt comfortably allowed. The Swingometer! What is this, Wacaday? And that guy who look like a big gerbil, I've forgotten his name, schmoozing badly round a cocktail party of intellects and glamorous celebrities - the most embarrassing part of which was Joan Collins saying David Cameron should win 'because he just looks good.' But the worst thing was Jeremy Vine. He should be hosting a new version of The Games Master, not prancing about in the BBC's holo-deck like a tit. His absurd graphics and statistics were not welcome here.

The best bits are the bits which are crap in a good old English TV way: the shots of old beardy weirdies darting around like tadpoles in stuffy wooden counting houses; the results announcements by stammering old frumps, as detached from TV glitz as sawdust; and David Dimbleby's impatience in the face of all this unbearable hype. "And I do wish they'd just get on with it," he said after a 2 second wait for a result to be read. Brilliant.

We can't pull off pimped campaign coverage like the Americans, firstly, because our campaigns are so short, and secondly, because we don't believe it. We're too sceptical. Apart from Jeremy Vine. Whose name, incidentally, is an anagram of Enemy Jiver and My Vine Jeer.

Nipping about the country on buses, I expected to hear more about the election. But no one really talked about it. I tried to start conversations with people about it but it normally resulted in them making gurgling noises and shrugging their shoulders. However, I struck gold as I stood in a bus stop in Tamworth, just outside Birmingham. If you ever have a reason to go there, find another to stop you. After practically nothing all the way along, I now heard two conversations about voting at the same time. The first was between a middle aged woman and man. 'Have you voted then?' he said. She said, 'No. They're all as bad as each other. There's no point. Anyway, I sent off for a postal vote this year so I didn't have to go into town. But I lost it.' He said, 'Oh.' 'Did you vote?' she said. 'Yes,' he said. She said, 'My husband he'd go spare if he wasn't allowed to vote.' 'Did he vote, then?' he said. She said, 'Probably.'

Then I caught a couple of young women talking who said,
'Who did you vote for?'
'UKIP. My dad told me I had to vote Conservative, but I hate David Cameron, so I voted UKIP.'
'Yeah, me too.'

I then went back to the first conversation. This is practically verbatim! I wrote it down.
F - 'Anyway, they're all useless. They won't actually do anything. I'd vote for any of them if they agreed to just get all the foreigners out of the country.'
M - 'Yeah, well that's right.'
F - 'And get everyone on the dole working again.'
M - 'Yep.'
F - 'I know exactly what I'd do if I got in.'

A vote for Tamworth is a vote for change.

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