I have added a new string to my bow. Yes, for this weekend, I became a political pundit. Two of us spent nearly 6 hours on local radio reporting on the count for the Lucan Ward in the Local Authority Elections in South Dublin County and it was a terrific experience. We had two reporters and a technical man actually attending the count in the Basketball arena in Tallaght who kept us up to date on the figures and got interviews with a lot of the candidates, and there we were in a steamy studio (the day was roasting and the ‘air-conditioning’ very basic) number- crunching (in a manner of speaking) and trying to predict the order in which the final listings would be made. I can tell you here and now that my experience in creative writing was a great help, because I have no party affiliations (although, naturally, some preferences) and no ‘insider information’ that could add to the knowledge that I had gleaned from the papers and listening to other radio shows.
We were promised that the first count would be complete at 4 o’clock. In the event, it was after 8pm before the announcement was made, so we had plenty of time to fill with comment and memories of past counts etc. and thank goodness I was not the one pressing the buttons to put us on and off air. Maria, my co-presenter played a blinder in that department. And Fran, our technician worked the thingamajigs so that we could hear the reporters phoning in. When our stint was almost over food arrived and cups of tea – my vocal chords had almost dried up by then, and I was totally exhausted by the time it was over. (Not a G & T in sight until I got home to my own nest and treated myself somewhat generously). But the ‘buzz’ was terrific and I was really interested because I know most of the candidates for years.
One of the things that struck me was how nice most of them when they were interviewed. Campaigning over, there was hardly any of the bombast and repetition of ‘party lines’ we had been hearing for the past few weeks either on the doorstep or on radio and television debates. Instead they were generous, magnanimous men (we didn’t get an interview with the only woman on the list) who praised one another in victory and commiserated in defeat. I don’t know how those who do badly coped with the rejection when they find out how far short of the target they fell. The hours of slogging around estates day after day trying to convince bored or angry residents to put a 1 or 2 opposite their name must have left them totally drained. The ones who did well will be bolstered by the flush of success, but for the others it must be some come down.
Today we did an hour covering the European Election count which wasn’t at all as demanding, particularly as our ‘roving reporter’ came up with some good interviews and they were nowhere near being able to guess where the final seats would go. Those results are still not in as I write this.
The turn-out of voters in this area was almost 50% – that means that half of the people didn’t bother to vote. If they had all turned out I wonder would the results have provided us with a completely different set of victors, or would things have just balanced out?
Anyway, it’s all over for another five years or whatever the duration of a Co. Council is, so its back to the hum-drum for me. Maybe I’ll start writing again.