01 May, 2006

Mayday, mayday

Nine years ago today I woke up to the news that it was destined to be one of the warmest days of the year so far and that this meant turnout was likely to be even higher than expected.

Three weeks away from the start of my final university exams I should have spent my time compiling more sets of revision notes and re-readind old essays. Instead I pored over The Guardian's verdict of the past six weeks of campainging, finalised my own lists of target seats and marginals which I was intending to have to hand throughout the ensuing 24 hours, spent an inordinate amount of time tuned to Radio Five Live (the only place to get rolling news in these strictly analogue times) and, begrudingly, had to leave the house to go to a boring lecture in the afternoon about Renaissance love poetry.

A canvasser called round early evening who got terribly confused by the fact we were all students and had already voted, not here but in our respective home towns, and that meant no, we couldn't vote again even though we'd all received polling cards for the local constituency. At 9.30pm BBC1 showed, by way of a prelude, the hustings-tinged episode of Blackadder The Third ("A hen, in her late forties"). Then just before 10pm the drums rolled, thunderous music played, and David Dimbleby's face swum into view predicting a historic night and, on the chimes of Big Ben, a landslide majority.

Maps and papers to hand, a stack of teabags waiting in the kitchen, my housemate and his girlfriend for company, I settled down for what I sincerely and unashamedly expected to be the beginning of a brilliant, untainted and thoroughly optimistic new dawn in the history of my country.


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