Well, nlj21 said he hoped I'd write about the hustings, so I may as well take ten minutes off work to humour him :-)
Brief round-up of life first - I had a lovely Tuesday evening curled up with M watching Buffy and drinking Greek wine*. As a restaurant is the last place I'd want to be on St Cyrils day I cooked, spicy thai salmon with mashed butternut squash, baby corn, carrots and mangetout. I'd like to claim credit for the lamb goulash and the raspberry sorbet too, but they were homemade out of a packet cortesy of Mr Tesc and Mr Coes.
Wednesday evening I went swimming for the first time in aaaaages. I must confess to being unexpectedly overcome with fear when I got there - would I be able to navigate the complicated interactions involved in buying a ticket? Did I have a leasurecard A? Would I have change for the locker? Had I remembered to shave my bikini line? Would I flash the entire changing room by not realising the lock on the in door unlocks whenever you unlock the lock on the out door? Would the entire pool take one look at my swimming costume clad body and collapse into hysterics? Anyway, three yeses and three nos later I was actually in the pool, and it was good. I'm not very good at swimming, but I like messing around in warm water. And Parkside, unlike my memories of the place, had warm changing rooms, warm showers, a warm pool and was in general Of Joy. Now all I need is some motivation to go on my own instead of only when other people are going anyway. (But given that's not likely to happen any time soon do invite me if you're going swimming!) :-)
Hustings... I'd never been to a political Thing before - I hadn't made it to the Great Guildhall Rally in the end - so this was all very new and exciting. The relief and pride that my name was on the list and I had a little yellow sticker were really rather embarressing. But even more so was my suddenly being star-struck when the candidates got on stage. Strange, that I still have this little hang-up about "famous" people. It was all very well choreographed, the chosen questions went far too neatly through the candidates abilities to talk about education, healthcare, the environment, the evilness of the opposition, and cute soundbites.
rmc28 was right, they would all do a more than adequate job, and there isn't much to choose between them. The fact that they didn't seem to disagree on anything made it quite hard to come to a decision. I don't think I could say hand on heart that there was nothing said that I disagreed with**, but I must admit I haven't been to an event that was so stirring and heartening for a long time. There are people in power who want to fight the terrorism bills. There are people who will fight against ID cards. There are people who would overturn not only top up fees, but tuition fees altogether. There are people who want to re-engage the country with politics, give us back our power, make us more involved. There are people who have a party with a position, rather than the position of "what will make us electable at this election". And I'm one of them. It was a very good evening for warm fuzzy smugness***.
But I suppose that the point of hustings is that you have to make a decision. So, about the candidates...
Chris Huhne didn't do anything wrong. He spoke well. He had a full head of hair. I suppose my main complaint against him is that he looks a bit funny****. Now I don't like thinking of myself as someone who judges on appearences, but I can get round this by saying that obviously the great unwashed masses will judge on appearences, and it's not that I'm prejudiced against funny looking people it's just that they will be. That might even be true. He also made me bristle by saying that if he was appointed he'd have one woman and one man as deputy leaders, for Equality*****[ETA : No, I'm completely wrong, this was Simon Hughes see comments. So I really can't remember a single thing I liked or disliked about this chap]. I'd much rather he had the two best people with the most experience, TBH. Generally uninspired, in as much as he did nothing that made me think "It must not be him under any circumstances" and nothing that made me think "He must lead us!"
Simon Hughes I really wanted to like. Bisexual, Christian, and from Cambridge, just the type I always go for. Not as old as Ming, not as unknown as Chris. IMO the best looking of the candidates (although that's rather damning with faint praise). Had managed to produce far more leaflets and bumpf than anyone else, although how that fits in with his environmental stance I'm not sure. Sadly, he completely failed to inspire me in the flesh. He spoke too quickly, he wandered from the point, he didn't crack jokes, just let them roll past in the stream of prose... It did cross my mind that this might be a deliberate ploy, to make him look more human, more vunerable, different from the others, more conversational... and indeed, it worked, up to a point. If I had to choose one of them to live with, it'd probably be Simon Hughes.
Which leaves Ming Campbell. Now, my first impression of Ming was OMG! He's so Old! He looks old enough to be my grandfather. He looks old enough to be my grandfathers grandfather. He looks old enough to be God. He is spry, tending to frail, what little there is of his hair is a shining white, and all this would never be more apparent than standing next to the plastic youth of Tony Blair and David Cameron. I mean, he looked old sitting next to Simon Hughes! But then... he opened his mouth and I fell in love. He could make me laugh. He could make me cry. He could move me with a personal anacdote, or inspire me with a broad vision. He filled me full of hope, hope that had been squeezed out of me over the last lean years. Hope that people could make a difference in politics. Hope that the changes that labour have made that grieve me to the core could still be overthrown with the right government. Hope that he would do what was unpopular for the sake of doing what was right. Hope that there were people who still believed in what was Good, and that the Liberal Democrat party was a place to find them... Unfortunately, he does still look older even than arnhem. Why can't we be fighting a radio campaign? But then the more I muse on it, the more I think that it might not necessarilly be a bad thing. The Liberal Democrats are trying to fight an election with principles, not with a plastic Barbie figurehead. Yes, there will be a strong contrast between him and the leaders of the other two parties, but might that not work in his favour? We are the real choice, something different. Who will offer you something we believe in rather than what we think looks good.
Anyway, they all believe in exactly the same things and are pretty interchangable really, so I'm not going to angst about it much more :-) It was nice to see aldabra, ghoti and nlj21 though!
*When M and I were in Athens we had an incredable meal at a rather expensive restaurant, with the most marvelous greek wine. We managed to find a shop that sold it and bought a bottle back, to save for a special occassion. As this year has had rather more commiserations than celebrations St Cyril's day seemed as good a day to drink it as any. I probably could not find that wine again in the world if I wanted to, and although that is not important, it is heartbreakingly sad.
**I wouldn't want to completely rule out nuclear power, I bristle whenever people start talking about making sure they have more women and ethnic minorities, I'm selfishly fond of grammer schools because I think they do benifit the clever kids the most, (although as I get older I am coming round to the idea that that might not be what's best for Society; there are more kids down the middle of the bell curve than there are at my end) and I'm still scared of the euro and like Nice English Money, probably also for daft sentimental reasons. One of them actually said he was dubious about the euro despite thinking europe was a good thing in lots of ways, but I can't remember who, so can't base my vote on that :-)
*** although I'm sure people go away from tory and labour things with exactly the same sort of warm fuzzyness. At the end of the day, it's dead easy to go on about making the world a better place, and quite difficult to do it...
**** Other liberal democrats look a bit funny too, so he'd fit right in. Odd. Maybe we're evolving into some higher breed of humanity that's going to look like this.
***** Please correct me if I've got the wrong person here, they were all starting to merge after a while. People agreeing with each other so much gets tiring.