Electoral Fun

My train is rather uncomfortable this morning.

After having to come via a slightly different route, involving one extra change, the net result is still exactly the same. I arrive at the same time back home, and will get there at 11:37.

It’s another weekend where I’m going back home. And I’m really looking forward to this one for some reason. It’s not been any longer than normal. But perhaps it’s just because business has been so quiet this week. I have taken a grand total of approximately £100. Which is clearly insufficient.

It’s been the worst week I’ve had since January. Not sure why it’s gone like that though. Perhaps it’s because I’ve stopped running the advert in the local paper. I didn’t think it was working for me, but maybe it is after all. Well, at least it’ll be illuminating when I run it next time.

I really need to go out leafleting, but with constant trips up and down the country I end up delaying it.

And then there’s the election, of course.

Political nerds like me find elections stunningly wonderful things. And this one in particular is pretty exceptional. I have been absorbing almost all the coverage I could find. Watching interviews, seeing all the debates, reading endless articles and writing my own. Because I do have a political blog out there now, which I won’t link to. But it’s good. No one ever comments on it, but at the moment I’m getting a couple of hundred visitors a day.

It’s at times like this that I really feel like I’ve missed my “calling”. I still don’t think I’d enjoy being an MP, having witnessed it at first hand, but my mind is filled with so many ideas about political ideologies, political strategies and arguments about X, Y, and Z. I hardly ever end a real political discussion without either convincing someone that I’m right, or that I need to amend my views based on their experience. Thinking critically and analytically is so normal to me. I should be using it more.

But I know that when the inevitable happens, and the British public once more vote for the same old rubbish, I will be depressed about politics again and vow never to get involved in it. And if the British public do indeed vote for more of the same tired old politics, they will probably deserve it.

Not a good attitude for someone who might want to go into public service one day. But I’ve always been a cynical bastard.

The one good thing about life in the South? The weather. It’s been glorious now for weeks on end. It’s about to end next week, apparently, but it’s been fantastic for early spring. I can’t wait for summer. I’m hoping for a good one this year. In every respect.

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The Stroll

Today, because things were quiet, I decided to go for a stroll.

Well, it wasn’t quite all my decision. When I took a bag of rubbish from my garden to my neighbour, who had kindly offered to take it to the rubbish tip for me, they quickly worked out just how bored I was.

And I was bored. After all, it had reached 11am, and already I was thinking the day was a total write off. No work. No prospect of it. I’d read all my favourite websites from cover to cover. I’d done some cleaning, a bit of tidying up. My housemate was going to be out for the whole day. So it was all down to me to work out what to do.

Then my neighbour rang, and suggested joining them for lunch in their other house 10 miles away. And then walking back.

I wasn’t exactly enthralled at the prospect, but at the same time, what else was I going to do? I also didn’t want to refuse a very kind offer. They know I can’t drive and have no car, and have a couple of times now given me lifts whenever they’ve seen me about to start yet another long walk.

So off we all went. Lunch was nice, and I had a nice little chat with them too. It’s good to speak to someone else for a change. And maybe neighbourliness isn’t dead after all.

All that remained was for me to begin the walk home. It was now about 2:30pm, and I had to bite the bullet.

Off I went.

It wasn’t the nicest walk I’ve ever been on in terms of the scenery. It was green and pleasant, but all much of a muchness around here. Most of the walk was along roads with no pavements, and though they were very quiet, I always got that foreboding sense of embarrassment whenever a car approached, half expecting them to laugh at me out of the window for being mad enough to walk such long distances. It wasn’t particularly challenging either, but that was probably a good thing as it’s been a long time since I did any proper hiking.

But two things made the walk exceptionally good.

First, the weather. Nice weather is always… well, nice. But when you get perfectly clear skies, with a warm sunshine, and very slight, but refreshing, breeze, it made the walk a real joy.

But there was something else up in the sky that made it even more awe inspiring.

No vapour trails.

Cloudless skies quickly become ruined by the endless sweeping of planes across it. The trails look thin at first, and then expand, criss-crossing the sky. In the end, they become indistinguishable from real clouds, blocking the heat and the warmth.

But today, courtesy of a little volcanic activity in Iceland (and who couldn’t have missed the media’s breathless coverage lately) it made the sky truly beautiful. Perfect, clear blue across the whole dome. Unobstructed. Wall to wall sunshine.

It was nice to not have anything to complain or worry about for a change.

The Call From Home

Invariably one of the things I hate is the call from home. Now, I don’t hate it because I hate hearing from and about my family, but I hate it for a few reasons.

First, I hate phones generally. I have come to tolerate them for business purposes, but I don’t like their urgency, their crying whine demanding your immediate attention, when in the most part the call is never actually urgent.

Secondly, there is just something about the call from home that drains me. In person, I enjoy speaking to my mum and dad. On the phone, I feel utterly at a loss. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to react. I hate having to over-react in order that the person on the other end gets an audio sound of my emotions. I think I miss the visual cues most of all: body language is so important, and I miss it desperately over the phone.

This makes the call very difficult. I mumble and stumble over words. My mum just talks and talks, and I sit there going “Mmm”, “yeah” and laughing or tutting where appropriate (since a shake of the head doesn’t work down the phone line). I don’t get much chance to say anything. I just get an ear-bashing.

But what makes it even more awful is that it is usually a long list of bad news. I very rarely get a call to deliver something interesting and exciting. It’s usually bad things happening to my sister, to my dad, to my mum, to other family members, or in their neighbourhood. Then when my mum has ran out of things to say, she’ll ask me how I am, I’ll say I’m OK (regardless of whether I am or not) and the call will fizzle out, unless my mum thinks of something else…

I write this post fresh from the ending of one such call. It involved my mum recounting the tale of the few days they’ve been away on holiday this week. They had an OK time, and I heard a couple of slightly entertaining things, but they were far overshadowed by the horrible news at the start of the call regarding my grandad, who is now a good long way through the stages of dementia.

They had actually taken him, and my nan, on holiday with them. They thought they’d enjoy the break. They probably did, but the big problem is that my grandad is a real handful now. He depends on my nan to do almost everything for him, and now he can’t hold a conversation without losing it and getting annoyed with himself. The stress this puts on my poor nan is unbelievable, and my mum finally witnessed this at first hand.

The double whammy of the cruel, gradual demise of my grandad, because of this fucking awful condition, along with the strain this puts my nan under are turned into a triple-play, because, when it gets worse, my nan won’t be able to cope. And I know it will mostly fall to my mum to deal with it, despite her having three brothers and a sister.

There are some truly horrendous times coming for my family in the next few years. I’ve been dreading it for years, but I get the strong feeling the worst is now very close indeed.

And all relayed to me via a phone. Thus reinforcing my hatred of the device.