So what do you do when it all gets too much? I’m going to clear off to Venice for a few days – a place that never disappoints and where ancient brickwork has proved more enduring than the grand promises of quite a few governments.
I spent last evening reliving the excitement of my youth and made it through to 3.30am before fatigue and an overdose of expert analysis got the better of me. The single malt was of course still as good and I enjoyed the feeling of immediacy that the live updates brought but the excitement waned quickly. I was disappointed for the Lib Dems, but in truth, not surprised that the fair words of Nick Clegg didn’t magic up seats at Westminster. In the end we didn’t get the change that each of the leaders confidently told us we wanted and that they would bring; we just got dull anticlimax after the possibilities raised by the sudden elevation of a Third Force. My incumbent – he of the taxpayer-funded manicured lawns and pristine driveway – was returned with an increased majority so clearly the general populace doesn’t feel as strongly as I do about how the next government will appropriate an increase in VAT.
As the talking heads were wheeled on during the interminable gaps between the declarations of the early results I felt the need for the statesmen, personalities and characters that made previous elections so compelling. I felt a little short-changed and never more so than when Sky’s pretty correspondent opened the continuity from Luton with the memorable line ‘Luton; famous for its airport.’ If nothing else that put the election into context.
I’m old enough to remember 1974 when Edward Heath failed to win an overall majority and went on to resign after negotiations with Jeremy Thorpe, who was then leader of the Lib Dems, came to nothing. It was the end of the world, politically speaking, for Heath and Gordon Brown had that look about him today when he addressed the media in Downing Street. I hope that he is philosophical in defeat – after all, he is an unelected leader and in all fairness has been on borrowed time for a while. Now we have to wait while the desperate struggle for power – poorly disguised as conscientious and serious-minded men doing ‘what’s right for the Country’ – is slugged out behind closed doors. The last time this happened, in 1974 when Harold Wilson formed a minority government after Heath resigned, we were back at the polls in eight months. Spare me, please.
So Italy, the cuisine of the Veneto and the ever-romantic Venice beckon.