Ealing, it would appear, is at war. The streets around the Broadway are thronged with coves in variously coloured rosettes handing out leaflets and levitating small children with bundles of balloons. I for one have become particularly adept at spotting the various affiliations without even needing to spy the rosette. A flash of strained brass blazer button indicates the Tories are at hand. An Ancient Mariner-style Glittering Eye indicates that it is UKIP wishing to stoppeth thee. A person sporting the dusty patina of an unearthed radish is a Green giveaway. Anyone displaying the missionary zeal of an over-caffeinated insomniac warns that Labour are careening through in their Chariot of Fire. Of the SNP and Plaid Cymru we see very little which is a puzzle; they are surely in with a decent shout in these parts.
As a result my progress around the hallowed Borough lacks its usual ‘Hullo Clouds, Hullo Birds’ bonhomie and I find myself skulking rather than striding from restaurant to cafe, lest I be buttonholed and forced to accept the shilling of one lot or the other. For reasons I explained last week I am siding with Mr Russell Brand in deploring the entire democratic process. I plan to despoil my Ballot Paper with some Bad Poetry, which I shall laboriously copy out by hand. I’m considering ‘Sensitive Plant’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley which, running to a lengthy 311 lines will allow me to occupy one of those little booths for an absolute age. I have prepared a brace of quills and a small bottle to facilitate this single (inky) handed act of anarchy and strike a blow for freedom.
This evening’s Workshop was a blow for freedom if ever there was one. Nick Barth commenced discussion with a rumination on a time-traveller dreaming of trams. Daphne Gloag then took up the cudgels with a perfect poem imagining the possibility of smashing time. Alan Chambers countered with a new poem concerning a traveller reflecting on braver days. Owen Gallagher lifted the pace with a series of snapshots of the Rosary. Olwyn Grimshaw is saving the planet by dispensing with housework and gardening. John Hurley asked us to imagine a time and place where we can all shed our preconceptions. Marilyn Keenan remembered, none too fondly, her neighbour Jean. Martin Choules offered some words with which to stick up for the weasel. Finally Gillian Spragg delivered a phonetic discussion of the uses of beds from A to Zed.
My earlier democratic avoidance stratagems had me wondering about the involvement of the Pitshanger Poets in Elections Past. Sir John Soane, long associated with the Pitt family and having just begun work on the remodelled Pitshanger Manor could well be expected to use the new venue to involve himself in the General Election of 1802. Accordingly, Soane organised a hustings in front of the Manor gates and asked the Pitshanger Poets to speak on behalf of the candidates. William Wordsworth, just returned from revolutionary France and visiting Soane on his long journey to the Lakes, spoke fervently and passionately for the liberal cause. He was countered by the firebrand and satirist William Gifford who delivered a scathing attack on the Whigs. Unfortunately Wordsworth lost the day; Gifford drove the crowd to a baying frenzy and the poll a few days later was a whitewash. All four of the registered electors in the Ealing Constituency voted Tory. If you have been, thank you for reading.