I am carrying a red clipboard and wearing a Labour Party sticker on my raincoat (John Rocha, dahling). The four of us have each been canvassing in a ward which will remain anonymous for the rest of this post. We flit from door to door. We pass each other in the cluster of streets that we are working, occasionally pausing to swap notes.
My colleagues have been dealing with “I’m-not-racist-but”s. Curiously, none of my interviewees has used the phrase. Sometimes, when I ask non-Labour voters what single issue is bothering them most of all, I have to tell myself that something dark doesn’t flicker behind their eyes before they answer, “Well, there isn’t one thing really…” A large proportion of the people who offer more than “Fuck off!” or the bald answers to the questions in my script make absolutely no sense at all. I nod at them the way people nod at their grandparents. Occasionally I attempt to nudge waverers gently towards Labour; this is not an evening for thoughtful debate.
Wearily, I knock one of my last few doors of the evening. It is opened by a young woman of shocking beauty. On my side of the doorstep of her shared house, after bulging gloomily for over an hour, the clouds have begun to piss out of the sky. On her side, Zephyr and Chloris fan the burnished copper strands of her hair with their perfumed breath. My spinal cord has successfully piloted my mouth through most of the voter interview script before I realise that she is inviting me in out of the rain. I stand awkwardly in the front room where she has been sitting alone in front of the television, so help me, delicately licking roll-ups into shape. If she didn’t look like she’d been grown in a vat from one of Christy Turlington’s fingernails I’d swear I was in a cheap and corny porn movie.
Then, in between licks, she invites me to sit down. I perch nervously on the edge of an armchair while she fixes me with eyes that would have tested Shakespeare’s vocabulary. I ask her why she has decided not to vote Labour this time. She explains how important climate change is to her and how she has, up until very recently, been pleased with Blair’s position on this. Apparently, however, the UK now intends to apply for a larger national carbon emissions allowance. I don’t agree with her priorities, but her logic is flawless. Like her skin. She is only the fifth person I have questioned all evening who can get from a premiss to a conclusion without folding the fabric of space-time.
She is about to become the first person to bring up the subject of immigration in front of me. She objects to the media coverage of the election and the priorities of the party campaigns. The emphasis on immigration is top of her list of objections. I realise I must leave before she offers me a cup of tea and I am forced to ask her for her hand in marriage. Yes, I have met a goddess. Yes, I know where she lives. And yes (even if she were the kind to descend from Olympus to consort with a very mortal man like me), it would be comprehensively unethical of me to do anything about it.
I hate canvassing.