The Dark Ages

The internet was down all day yesterday, with ntl reporting a ‘major system failure’. This turned out to be helpful. For once, I managed to get some writing done before driving to the university at midday. Recently, I seem to spend every spare minute dealing with the Turning Point conference (see below, full programme to be announced shortly). I did some more writing in the evening, then joined Sue at our local, where we’d arranged to meet two friends at half ten. An hour later, we were back at the house, watching the US election. BBC1, CNN and Sky News had the best coverage, but we mostly stuck with BBC1.

Then there was a power cut. I went outside and the whole neighbourhood was dark. We toyed with walking to Rod’s house, but decided to sit it out. It’s been a while since we had a black out, but the power usually comes back on after 30-40 minutes. We lit a load of candles. I brought down the gigantic 1947 radio we found in the garage on our allotment and had restored (we do have a digital radio with more channels but it has no batteries in it and, anyway, the digital reception’s rubbish downstairs). We got some more beers and tuned in Five Live. Lack of telly didn’t matter much. There was nothing happening. The four of us talked about stuff. And you know what? That was the best part of the evening. After an hour, the power came back on. On TV, there was still nothing happening. Our freezer refroze. The beers in the fridge got cold again. We cooked pizza. At three, there was still no news. Four years ago the election had been conceded and reclaimed by now.

We got inklings of disaster. NBC had raw voting data as it came in, but you couldn’t trust it, not after last time. At half three, James went home and Sue went to bed. Rod and I stuck it out for another twenty five minutes, but there was still no prospect of anything happening. Less than six hours later, when I got up, the result was no clearer. As I turned on CNN, they declared another state for Kerry, making it 254-252 in Bush’s favour. At midday, I heard that the Bush camp are claiming victory. They think they’ve won Ohio, as they did four years ago. If that turns out to be the result, the dark ages are set to continue, with the world order dominated by the clash between two sets of right wing religious extremists. It’s profoundly depressing, expecially because our own Prime Minister is so closely aligned with one side of this simplistic, falsehood riddled war. ‘The party on the left is now the party on the right’ Pete Townsend wrote, in a song called ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. 51% of U.S. voters have been fooled again. And I don’t like it.

Post Script: There’s a story of mine, ‘After Magritte’, on Martin’s blog Exultations and Difficulties. Check it out.

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