I’m not a gambler, I think in all my life I have only ever put one bet on and even then I never entered a betting shop. However I am currently kicking myself for not placing a bet on the outcome of the UK General Election. As on the day Mrs May announced to the UK there would be a general election, I told a few people that I believed the outcome would be a hung parliament. Everyone I told looked at me as if I had finally lost it, Theresa May was flying high in the polls, the UK electorate had been force-fed the notion over the last two years that the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was unelectable and here was me saying no one would have an overall majority. These are very strange times we are living in.
I am still recovering from election night, I didn’t mean to stay up all night. Jay was working late night on Thursday 8th June, I had gone to bed at 5pm as I was already stressed and tired not knowing how things were going to pan out. I did manage to drop off a little after 8pm (obviously I managed to listen to The Archers at 7pm the only soap opera I follow). I almost came too when Jay walked through the door but persevered with sleep. My plan was to get up between 3-4am when Jay took the mutts out, as I knew the majority of constituency results would start to come through then. Things changed when I caught the news after returning from the toilet and the exit poll conducted by Sky, BBC and ITV was stating that it would be a hung parliament not the 100 seat majority we’d been told it would be.
A little shocked that the prediction I had made around 6-7 weeks ago was about to come true, I stumbled down the stairs. I planned on only staying up for an hour but ended up returning to bed at 05:30am. Twitter was just too entertaining to leave and so was the election coverage, littered with mistakes my favourite being Laura Kuenssbergs “rec*nt” instead of “re-count” or when David Dimblebys microphone was left on as a result came in, which he greeted with a very British “bloody hell”. I had to keep my sniggering quiet as Jay was fast asleep, luckily he had Friday off but he didn’t share my enthusiasm of wanting to watch the election results come in. Whenever we have had a party I have found I have been utterly exhausted for about a week afterwards. I had always put that state of exhaustion down to the alcohol consumed and being a social butterfly. It seems however it’s more to do with lack of sleep than anything else.
Friday was going to be an odd day anyway without the lack of sleep thrown in. Jay is rarely off on a Friday (unless I have a medical appointment), I had a friend coming over for a few hours and then bizarrely I met the new church outreach workers in the afternoon. The last bit was totally unplanned as neither Jay or I are religious, in 20 years of living here we have never met anyone from the numerous churches here. Due to Jay being off on Friday it threw us out all day, with both of us believing it was either Monday or Tuesday his normal day off.
I did manage to get about an hours sleep on Friday morning but as sleep was only coming in 10 minute bursts I decided that I better just get up or spend the day feeling absolutely horrific. It's weird how sometimes even when you need sleep that having some can leave you feeling even worse. The tiredness hit me in waves all day, unfortunately for Immie, just as she arrived I hit a wall and spent the first hour desperately trying to keep myself awake. It was a good visit with lots of laughs. I was concerned when I had to explain to both my husband and Immie, why it wasn’t just the leaders of the parties on their voting slip. I can understand that from a youngster who has never been taught a thing at school about our parliamentary process but a 43-year-old? I think Jay was just having a blonde moment. I don’t profess to be a political expert and have never set myself up to be one however I was having to field numerous questions from both of them regarding hung parliaments, coalitions and minority governments. Even I ended up using google more than once, especially when I could feel my energy levels draining away.
I did toy with the idea of having a nap after she left but decided that it was too dangerous. I worried that if I went up to bed at 3pm I may sleep until midnight and then be awake for the rest of the night. So I busied myself on my Chromebook, checking out social media. Jay had gone to the doctors as he needed his blood tests as the medication he takes for his psoriasis can affect his liver function. He also needed his asthma yearly review. So I had a quiet hour to myself or so I thought.
On Thursday I had a card put through the letterbox introducing the new outreach worker at the local church. I had left it on the lounge coffee table for Jay to see when he got home from work. I’ll be honest Jay and I had a good laugh about it for around 5 minutes and then forgot about it. When the doorbell went on Friday afternoon I briefly wondered what Amazon delivery it was that I had forgotten about. Unfortunately that isn’t something that doesn’t happen on a regular basis and is more evidence that I should be supervised at all times. Having shut the dogs in the kitchen, I made my way to the front door and to my surprise there wasn’t a delivery driver there holding a box in his hand.
I was greeted by a man with a huge smile, with a smaller slightly timid man behind him. He put his hand out for me to shake and said “Hi there I’m Mark and this is Gurjeet” in a lovely American accent. I recognised his photo from the card that had been put through the door the day before. I replied “Hi, yes you're the man from the church. I have to be honest we don’t do religion here”. I didn’t want him wasting his time but I also didn’t want to be rude as I imagine he had possibly had many doors slammed in his face whilst introducing himself to the community. As he was a visitor to our shores I didn’t want him getting the impression that our small Devon town was an unfriendly and hostile place. However what he said next made me want to die with embarrassment.
“ Your necklace is so pretty, what does it say?”
I immediately put my hand up to my neck and said “oh god”, not a great thing to do, blaspheme in front of a Christian outreach worker but pretty bloody mild compared to my necklace.
“Oh don’t cover it up, what does it say? Truck the…”
“Erm no” I said not removing my hand. You see when the election was called I bought a new necklace. It was a bit of a laugh at the time but it didn’t arrive until 3 days before the vote. I had been wearing it solidly since it arrived and had completely forgotten that I was still wearing it when I answered the door.
|Fuck the Tories|
You see it didn’t say truck but something that rhymed with it and not something I was at all comfortable with sharing with a man of the cloth. These things always seem like a good idea at the time but I was now rueing the day that I decided to wear it non stop. I racked my brains trying to come up with a polite way of describing what it said. So I replied
“ It rhymes with truck but begins with F”
and then held my breath, waiting to be condemned or lightening to strike me down. To my surprise he laughed his head off and said “That’s brilliant”. That threw me for a loop as I wasn’t expecting that. I have met a few vicars in my time, some have been stuffy old farts and others have been trendy Rev’s. Where I live it's quite an old demographic so I was expecting a slightly if not excessively conservative response.
I needn’t have worried as for the next 20 minutes we chatted about Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, if I had voted tactically and what had happened so far during the day. He wanted to catch up on all things to do with the election as he had been out on the doorstep all day meeting the local residents. I think I may have provided a bit of light relief as I imagine most of his conversations that day would have been about getting people into the local church and what issues were affecting the community.
I also used the opportunity to educate him about EDS, chronic pain and PoTs. So for me it wasn’t a wasted visit. In fact it was such an engaging conversation that I finished by telling him that although I was a lost cause as far as getting me to church, he was always welcome to pop in and have a cup of tea if he wanted a good debate. And I meant it, he was a total breath of fresh air and if I was at all religious he probably would have got me more involved in the church. He was sincere, interested and informed. We both decried how sad it was that no one seemed to be able to debate things anymore without resorting to personal slurs or even attempting to see things from another person's point of view. We both linked this to the rise of social media, where if you disagree with someone you mute or block them, which means you surround yourself with only individuals that think like you.
After speaking with Mark and Gurjeet I felt more awake than I had done all day. Two Christian outreach workers that in the normal run of things I probably would never have met and would have avoided talking to due to my own preconceptions. These are indeed strange days.