Monday, 9 May 2011

A week is a long time in .............

After a week waiting for a bed, Janine went back into hospital this afternoon and will start her 5th cycle early tomorrow morning.  I expect that is dependant on the blood and kidney function tests she had this afternoon but I am sure they will be OK.  Put it like this, I wouldn’t want to be the one assigned to tell her they are not and that she needs to come home and wait until either her blood levels or kidneys have recovered.  If she were told, as before, that her kidneys have suffered and that she can’t have the last two cycles at all, well that would be a different story.

Whilst Janine underwent some tests, she also undertook one.  I’m afraid I don’t know the detail or the background but she seems to have got involved with a lemon drizzle cake tasting competition amongst the nursing staff.  I’ll post a photo below and try to establish the outcome for a future blog.  I wonder, however, if this is all part of the Lib Dems’ newly discovered plans for the NHS …….. ?  Lemon Drizzle  …………. no I won’t go there. 

The armchair psychologists amongst us will all, I expect, subscribe to the commonly held theory that what emotionally turbulent periods like this need is a distraction.  I hinted last time I wrote that there had been such a distraction for me over the last few months and, as it reached its conclusion last week, I feel I can now openly confess what I have been up to.  No, I wasn’t involved in any of the planning for the wedding (best I keep off that subject frankly).  Instead, and this is very mundane and you can stop reading now if you like, I was a candidate in the local elections.  I know, I know, I know ………. what was I thinking and, as some of you said to me, don’t you already have enough to do ?!  In truth, I had committed to this just as Janine was diagnosed and we agreed I should pursue it as best I could given that the next elections are 4 years away.

I stood for the ward where we live and, in my more realistic moments, knew we required a major swing away from the incumbent Tories and the Lib Dems if we were to stand a chance of winning.  In the end, we put a major dent in the Tory majority and saw the Lib Dems off but it was not enough.  As I said on Facebook on the night, for the time being, the wonderful people of Wildridings and Central have released me to spend more time with my family and pursue other options.

The campaign was a great experience and even though the timing was lousy, I would do it again.  I met new people and made new friends.  I found areas of the ward and houses which I did not know existed.  I met some very angry and distressed people, some disillusioned people, some committed people and some apathetic people – all in the same street.  I found strong, established Tory voters living in very close proximity to self declared socialists.  I found out that I can travel a long way out of my comfort zone for an extended period of time and still survive.  I saw a dark competitive spirit within me that, whilst it may not have a killer instinct (ask my dad about the Surrey County 800m final in 1982) could, if unchecked, lead me into bitterness and resentment and to despising people I may not like but cannot afford to despise. 

I was blamed personally for bankrupting the country and ‘letting in all those immigrants’, discovered that the modern letterbox is an instrument of torture, established that one man’s carefully written expression of social democracy is another man’s junk mail (and he really really doesn’t want it put through his door), and went through a pair of shoes.  I was canvassed by our Tory MP who clearly hadn’t read his canvassing sheets, and was told I was a disgrace for delivering leaflets on the day of the wedding when it was already all over (even the kiss), the person who spoke to me wasn’t watching the coverage either and no one had told me we had created a new Sabbath.  I became sick of seeing my face on the leaflets we were distributing but obsessive about getting into secure blocks of flats to deliver them.  I found on the night, to misquote the advert from one of the internet gambling companies, that where a cross appears on a ballot paper really does mean more when your name is on it.  And much, much more.  I do feel ever so slightly bereft now it is all over.

As this has been more of a leaning than a musing, I’ll finish with some thoughts on fair votes.  The ‘no’ campaign for the referendum made great play of first past the post being about one person/one vote and therefore ‘undeniably’ fair.  Whilst I appreciate that AV may not have been the complete answer to this, what that argument fails to recognise is that, when it comes to the composition of a Council or a Government, we may all have one vote but under constituency based first past the post, those votes do not all carry the same weight.

In the Bracknell local elections, for example, 63% voted Conservative, 29% Labour, 4% Lib Dem and 2% Green (plus some others).  With a Council of 42 Councillors you would think that would mean 27 Conservatives, 12 Labour, 2 Lib Dems and 1 Green.  Instead what we have is 40 Conservatives and 2 Labour.  Is that a fair ?  I’ll leave it with you – though it seems you won’t now really need to think about it for a very long time.