High noon – time for me to take my stand at the polling station. What to wear? Black is a bit funereal but it will show up the red rosette better than my nice new red cardigan.
I am to be on duty at the boys’ old nursery school just down the road. It is a long time since I walked up the lane into the playground and I get a whiff of nostalgia (no really, it is nostalgia), picturing the old days, noticing the new tubs of herbs and young trees. Growing evidence of new spending on education, perhaps.
There are yellow and blue rosettes standing by the entrance. But they look as if they have been pinned to the wrong candidates. “You’re all mixed up”, comments a tall, handsome Australian wearing a wide brimmed leather hat. “You should be in the suit” (the Tory is in a fleece and jeans while the Lib Dem is in a smart navy blue two piece) and to me (unfairly I think) “you should be wearing jeans”.
Disconcertingly the Tory is particularly easy to talk to and the Lib Dem turns out to be married to a Labour voter. By this stage, with all that leafleting and canvassing done, there is nothing left for it but to talk to one another like real human beings.
Luckily there is a real topic of conversation. The Lib Dem candidate is being shadowed by a journalist from Palestine on a British Council funded trip. Hosan (spelling dubious) takes pictures of the steady stream of voters and joins the chat. He is intrigued at the lack of military force. ‘Where are the guns?’ he wants to know, especially when two policemen turn up for their routine check inside. He has a theory that Alan Johnston, the BBC Gaza correspondent, is being held by a family wanting nothing more than protection against a rival gang.