Monday, December 09, 2019

Lie in it

"Pushing through the market square,
So many mothers sighing
News had just come over,
We had five years left to cry in..."
I suspect that bookies will soon be paying out on Liverpool's first Premiership win and first top flight league win in 29 years. The Reds are currently eight points clear of their nearest contenders, Leicester, and 14 ahead of the next team, Man City.
The figures of how far the Tories are in front of Labour in election polls are less definitive - anything from a generous 6% up to a embarrassing 15% or more. For some time, there has been no talk of a Labour victory as the largest party, let alone a majority. That prize seems the Tories to lose. Having cocked up so spectacularly in 2017, it seems unlikely that they won't emerge without a majority on Friday morning.
I'd love to be proved wrong, but I'm sticking to my inkling that 2017 will prove to be the high water mark for Corbyn, if not Corbyism. The magic has been noticeably missing this time round, despite a manifesto chock full of goodies. Nobody can complain that they're not being given a meaningful choice this time round with full-fat socialism versus an anemic Tory promise of jam tomorrow if they can just finish the Brexit thingy. 
I don't know much about how things will play out over the next few years, but I will predict that this will be a Sisyphean task. We'll be stuck in a seemingly never-ending round of discussions, treaties, detail, and our two old friends dither and delay. If we ever push the boulder to the vaunted uplands they'll not be as sun-drenched as we'd imagined them, if we can actually remember what we imagined this very heaven would be like.
Of course, that's not what the Tories will say. The mop-headed lying machine will strain his 2:1 classic degree to sugarcoat this turd of a future as the best thing since sliced cake - had and eaten by him and his chums. British people will shrug and try to forget that this glorious independence day resulted in such meagre fare for them.
Brexit will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory I expect, and will still never be enough for Farage (remember him?) and his ilk. However, his guns will finally be spiked. Exhausted and confused Brits (English really) will no longer care if "they're not doing Brexit right!" Like getting to Marbella and finding the glorious brochure images of the hotel don't match the building site they encounter, they'll moan a bit and then go off to get pissed, and sing songs about the wars, World Cup, and Brexit they won. There will be a football song linking this trilogy of achievements soon enough. 
Bitter? Of course I am. I still don't see a believable upside to all of this for me and mine. There will be winners, but probably not among the 99%. It's all been so unnecessary... but, we are where we are.
And what of Labour? 
It seems inevitable that Corbyn will step down after Friday - possibly more quickly than some anticipate. He'll have presided over two electoral defeats, and while 2017 gave supporters reasons to be cheerful, this time will feel like a monstrous kick in the balls, no less so for being anticipated, unlike Cameron's surprise majority in 2015. Doesn't that seem like a lifetime ago?
It's not hard to see that Labour could spend the next two or three years being completely ineffective as a political force - insert your own joke here. There will have to be soul searching, although with the NEC and shadow cabinet stuffed full of Corbyn allies, it's hard to imagine a return to a more broad-based Labour offering. 
Maybe Corbyn was just the wrong frontman all along. His monstering has been appalling, but it goes with the territory for Labour leaders and he hasn't helped himself at times. Could someone else have done a better job? We'll never know, but someone else will have to do a better job in future. I hold no high hopes for a revival in 2024 if that's as long as we have to wait for the next election. Until then, Neil Kinnock's 'I warn you...' speech comes to mind again. 
To Johnson will fall the massive task of uniting this fractured nation. No surprise that I doubt the chilled out entertainer will be up to the task. I'm not even thinking of the precious, precious Union. He doesn't care much about that. I'm thinking of the deep, post-war France fractures that will exist in our society for a long time. 
"What side were you on daddy?"
"The right one... and don't speak to those bastards across the road!"
Five more years to think about it.
"We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got..."

Thursday, November 08, 2018


A strange thought popped into my head a few days ago - I wish I had started cycling 10 years earlier.
It's not that I think that extra ten years would have helped me to become a better/faster/stronger cyclist, although it probably would. It's just that when you find something you enjoy at my age, there's a mental date at which you can already see when you won't be able to do it any more. I'm mourning something that hopefully is a long way off yet - that's a bit mad isn't it?
This pessimism has been exacerbated no doubt by a recurrence of a knee problem that seems to flair up every now and then. It's a swelling that prevents my leg from having its full range of flexibility, strength or stability.
Particularly galling this time is the fact that it has just popped up with no apparent reason. In the past, it has been traced to overdoing exercise, or doing exercise badly, or a twist of some sort. This time, I could feel a slight swelling and knew it was coming on, but couldn't think what the cause was.
For the past week this has resulted in me hobbling about in various states of discomfort and pain just wishing it would go away. It has trashed my bike riding plans, including one off road event last Sunday that I was really looking forward to.
At roughly the same time, I've developed an ache in my right arm which makes it feel weaker when called on to lift something. At this age, we tend to joke all the time about 'falling to bits', but it's starting to feel like that to me.
But should it?
At the weekend, I bumped into an old neighbour who I haven't seen for a couple of years since he moved from our street. During the usual exchange of pleasantries, I mentioned my leg and he spoke about problems he had before going on to reveal that he was in remission from cancer. He actually looked very well, and was incredibly positive about things, telling me he was planning a walk across Scotland as a fundraiser and celebration of his health.
Another friend has been beset with health problems recently, yet seems to take things in his stride. He is remarkably upbeat about his various ailments and impending procedures. Why can't I be more like that, rather that being so catastrophic about things?
When I was younger and dafter, I used to make declarative statements about how I would give a year of my life to be able to play guitar like folk-rock guitar hero Richard Thompson. (Obviously, if I was that bothered, I could have practised harder, got some lessons, or applied myself a bit more. However, that wouldn't have had the same grandstanding effect for my attention-seeking younger self.)
That seems fairly asinine now (In my 20s, I also used to claim that by the time I was 30 I'd have stopped drinking. I'll let you guess how well that's going.) If I was prepared to give up any portion of my life now - and I'd rather not thanks - then it would be for a slightly nobler, although in some ways, equally selfish end, such as for my family, especially my children.
Of course, even in these troubled times we live in a reasonably safe and stable society where we're not required to make heroic sacrifices. We're better placed to help those we love by doing the dull and predictable - bringing home the bacon, helping children with their homework, teaching them to be decent human beings.
That's the more important stuff, and something that my growing array of minor inconveniences hopefully won't stop me from achieving. I hope to be around for a while yet, even if it's in a less functional capacity. I'm off to the physio this afternoon.
A better bike would definitely help though.

Friday, June 15, 2018

'78 and all that

With World Cup 2018 underway, thoughts of Scots turn to other years ending in 8. France 1998 was the last time we qualified for a major tournament, and 1978 was the year of the Argentina tournament.
Champions: it could have happened!
BBC has just broadcast a documentary, Scotland 78: A Love Story, looking back at the year Scotland was the sole team to qualify from the British Isles, and when the whole country became convinced that we were all set to win the tournament. The past is indeed a different country.
As a nostalgic, you'd expect me to be delighted to return to that interesting time in our history. However, like many Scots, I still bear the scars, and I was only 11 at the time. I've been putting off watching it, until the first day of the World Cup when I cracked.
The story goes that the Scottish team came under the spell of a charismatic manager Ally MacLeod, who led the team to qualification, and then seemed to preside over a period of national hysteria where expectation built to such an extent that many were convinced that Scotland simply had to turn up in Buenos Aires on 25 June 1978 to collect the trophy.
King Kenny: celebrates scoring in 1977
Maybe I'm trying to exculpate myself from that delusion, but I can't remember being so convinced that it would be so simple. My first memory of Scotland playing was the 5-1 drubbing by England in the Home Nations championships in 1975. The elders in my village thought that would be 'Easy!' too. These were the same guys who would save their money to make the bi-annual pilgrimage to Wembley for the match against England, to routinely swamp the stadium with Lions Rampant, Saltires and tartan to the extent that we used to call it Spot the Englishman.
Practically every village in Western Scotland used to send a bus down, terrifying the locals with their numbers, their incomprehensible language and drunken antics. They'd return a few days after the game finished, skint and ruddy faced, already planning the next trip.
These jolly boys outings were obviously only partly about the football. They were largely about getting away from the everyday with your mates and getting pished... in England.
Fan-tastic: even Rod got in on the Wembley mischief
So maybe the idea of going to Argentina didn't seem as daft as it was presented in the documentary. Yes, it was over the other side of the world, but Scottish fans were used to travelling overseas - Lisbon in 1967, and the rioting Rangers fans in Barcelona in 1972 to name just two examples of Scottish cultural exchange.
One idea that wasn't really explored in the documentary was how the Scots led themselves to be hypnotised by MacLeod, because that's the narrative. I suspect that his cardinal sin was to tell people what they wanted to hear. Scots bought into that storyline wholeheartedly, as did the whole of Britain actually. There didn't seem to be a lot of critical thinking.
Of course, money was a big part of it. Although the endorsement ads look cheesy now, it was early days for that sort of thing, and both the FA and the players were probably filling their boots to an unexpected degree. Who would want to rain on the parade and say "Of course, we might not win."
I had a piece of merchandise that my dad got for me. It was a pint jug - the perfect gift for a Scottish 11 year old - which had the team badge and the signatures of all of the players on it. I was so naive that for ages I thought they had actually signed it, not realising the wonders of promotional printing.
And what a team that was. In some ways Ally MacLeod did have reason to have a level of confidence - Buchan, McQueen, Rioch. Dalglish, Jordan, Souness, Macari, Rough, Hartford, Gemmill... That wasn't a bad selection.
I watched the first match against Peru at a Scout camp in Hamilton. The leaders had set up a telly in a marquee. It must have be tiny - there were no projection screens in those days. Truth be told I can't remember much about the game apart from the overwhelming level of disappointment at the 3-1 result. Did I watch the Iran game? I doubt it.
Ditto the Holland match, although we all remember Gemmill's wonder goal, which, in convincing the most one-eyed fans that we could have won the tournament, is up there with the 1967 'real world champions' myth of Scottish football.
Super Gemmill: lest we forget (chance!)
One particularly unedifying aspect of the tournament was the treatment of Willie Johnston, who was sent home for failing a drugs test. In these days of TUEs and the number of top athletes who seem to be asthmatic, his expulsion for an over the counter hay fever remedy seems harsh, but not as harsh as the way the blazers of the FA threw him under the bus. It seems crazy that the team doctors didn't know what players were taking or have processes in place, but was in line with the general amateur nature of the overall affair - not so much different from my village's bus trips to Wembley in truth.
Scotland '78 makes the point that the whole affair, with its echoes of the Darien expedition, dented the national psyche to such an extent that the country didn't vote in sufficient numbers for independence in 1979. The fact is that there was a majority who voted yes, but the government of the day dictated that it was such an important vote that there should be a threshold - something that sticks in the craw of nationalists to this day.
Would but there have been such a threshold for Brexit - an equally important vote.
As it is Argentina in 1978 probably gave Scots a sharp lesson in the dangers of national exceptionalism - something that England has still to learn given Brexit. Scotland was changing fast, as the pictures of dreary, graffitied tenements indicate. Twelve years later, Glasgow was the Smiles Better European City of Culture. I remember visiting it around that time, years after I'd last been as a child, on one of the occasional trips to the Barras, when the tenements were being pulled down and the sight of poor people selling their belongings on the pavement made it seem like another world to an impressionable child. At this later date, the cleaned up sandstone buildings seemed magnificent, the museums were engaging and exciting, and people had a swagger.
By the Nineties Scottish pride and confidence was based on things other than our football team: history, art, architecture, the landscape, the education system, and the people. And it wasn't an unquestioning pride, as the most recent independence referendum result shows. I'd venture that people realise that as a small nation, Scotland's place in the world will be tied to other larger entities. They just can't decide which they will be.
Beside the online sledging, the level of debate about the country's future was genuinely soul searching because of that. People realised that there are no easy solutions and choices have consequences, something that again seems lost on the Brexiteers.
Maybe that's something we should thank Ally McLeod for.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Snow days

Sledging: traditional British winter activity
It's day three in the ice bound house. The snow started on Tuesday and schools across Essex, and the country, were closed the following morning. It's been like that since then. There have been the usual moans that we're a country that falls apart at the first sign of a bit of snow, and why can't we be more like Switzerland/Norway/Germany... anywhere but here.
To be fair to the school first of all, this is the first time in more than six years that bad weather has closed it. I'm sure things will be back to normal on Monday - we're expecting a bit of a thaw from tomorrow. Then this little break will be filed under cultural enrichment.
So, what have we been up to?

What we've done

Tattie soup: with sprouts
  • Went sledging, obviously. That's twice in one winter my £10 purchase has been used - more than we've managed in the past five years, and we're heading out again today I hope.
  • Made cakes and biscuits.
  • Composed a space opera. Number one son took the opportunity to work out a rather dystopian sounding piece on his keyboard. The weather made it seem even more ominous.
  • Made potato heads for World Book Day. Sadly these haven't been taken to school - don't know if Harry Potato-er and Dumbledore will make it through the weekend.
  • Fed the birds.
  • Made soup.
  • Cleared snow from my the neighbour's steps (polishing my halo as we speak).
  • Rearranged the office slightly - CDs now in the next room.
  • Read books.
  • Worried about global warming, but less about Trump.
  • Got new cyclocross wheels on my new (to me) cross bike.

Snow tree: actually from earlier in 2018
What we haven't done

  • Ridden our bikes.
  • Panic bought anything.
  • Made a snow man - it's the wrong kind of snow. Too powdery.
  • Seen many people.
  • Driven the car?
  • Thought as much about Brexit.
  • I haven't done much work, as I haven't had any, so I should probably add 'Worried about lack of work' to the first list.
  • Been proactive.

What we could have done

  • Been proactive.
  • More craft activities.
  • Played board games - not sure why we haven't done more of this. The kids have actually been very good at entertaining themselves (that's my get out clause anyway). Their games tend to be mind-bogglingly complex, especially if the eldest is in charge (i.e. all the time), and being a bear of little brain, it's probably best that I excuse myself.
  • The 1,000-piece Minion jigsaw puzzle that the younger one won in a story writing competition last year (I'll just drop that humblebrag in there as a bit of catch up on what's been happening of late).
  • Demanded that school reopens, or started up some home schooling activities :)
  • We could have been out more. I gladly cleared the neighbour's steps yesterday as I was getting cabin fever.

Winterval: Abbey Fields Colchester
What have we learned

  • Snow days pass very slowly.
  • Being freelancers, we're lucky we didn't have to go anywhere.
  • After initial mad forays into the snow, the kids are quite apathetic about it. Yesterday they didn't get out of their pyjamas.
  • Not all snow is equal. The powdery stuff won't even hold a snowball. It is very beautiful however.
  • That it doesn't really matter. This little three-day event will soon be a memory - hopefully a pleasant one.
  • Local Budgens doesn't sell logs beyond about late February. We could have done with some of late - there's nothing like a real fire when it's cold outside.
  • The house is a lot warmer than the first couple of winters we were in here, thanks to better insulation. Back then we were wearing hats in bed and waking up with cold noses.
Are we really rubbish at doing winter? Were we better at it in the past? I don't know really. Generally we have better cars, better clothing and better communications. People are by and large kind and help each other out at times like this. We sort of know what we should do, although we don't always do it - much like life generally. 
It's starting to melt.

Tracks: cat I think

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The finer point

Television: on the turntable
After the initial excitement of repatriating my record collection to my house and wiring up the turntable, there was a bit of an anticlimax. Listening to a selection of discs it became apparent that they didn't sound that great. Never mind what Neil Young says, it wasn't a patch on CD quality. It sounded fuzzy, muted and just rubbish really.
The Feelies: they've reformed
I put this down to a few things: the crap quality of the vinyl that a lot of the discs were made of (the Eighties/Nineties was the end of days for vinyl and some albums and 12 inches were practically flexidiscs); the decrepitude of my equipment (sorry dad, but the Sansui and B&W speakers are past pensionable), and the ancient stylus on the turntable.
The last one was the thing that I could do something about. The stylus had never been changed - shrugs shoulders - but who changes them anyway? I can't remember any of my mates thinking it was a big deal back in the day, despite the fact that record shops and chains like Woollies and Boots usually had a cabinet of them. Most of us had crap music systems that we assumed we'd better one day, so styluses were fairly far down our priority list. I didn't even know how to change one.
However, with my little trip into the musical past, I was prepared to give it a go, otherwise there didn't seem much point having the vinyl if it couldn't be played. Can you even still buy them?
Fugazi: turned me upside down
Well, yes you can and it wasn't very hard to track down a replacement for the Sansui FR-D25 turntable. The new stylus was £18 and turned up within two days with an anti static cloth that I added to my order.
After consulting Dr YouTube to find out how to change a stylus, I was in business, and my oh my, what a difference it makes. The old stylus must have been as blunt as a very blunt thing.
Drake: mellow classic
Suddenly I get it. I'm hearing stuff on records like Surfer Rosa, Marquee Moon and Five Leaves Left that I can't remember hearing before. Perhaps there's an element of overcompensation and I'm hearing what I want to hear, but I can't deny that it's great to listen to these discs anew on the format they were recorded for. Even the crackle and blips are endearing - I've got a fair few pre-loved albums, including the aforementioned Television and Nick Drake disc, and they still sound great.
Whether there is really a sound difference, or I'm just enjoying a trip down memory lane, I don't know, and frankly I don't care. I'm not going to repurchase a lot of this stuff on CD, and listening on streaming services like Spotify or even YouTube starts to get a bit like the musical equivalent of fast food. It is flat and invariably you're listening through less that optimum equipment.
UFO: Schenker's on fire
There's also the appreciation of the album sleeves, which I'm posting to Instagram as I work my way through the collection. That £18 could be one of the best investments I've made.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Tough of the Track

Two wheels good
My eldest has been going to a grasstrack racing group this summer, run by a great local cycling club, Colchester Rovers.
Grasstrack - I had no idea either - is exactly what it sounds like. Kids race around a grass track on fixed wheel cycles, which the club provides if you don't have one, which we don't.
It has been great fun and really plays to his competitive side, which is becoming more apparent as he gets older. In recent weeks he's been doing quite well, especially as some of the more established youngsters have been racing for longer and have a bit more track nous, as well as more gear.
There is a little league table and he's been pleased to have been near the top. On Monday night we went and I had to remind him to change out of his school kit into something more sporty. "Why? It doesn't matter," he protested, but changed anyway.
It was probably just as well, as he won two of his three races and now sits at the top of the league table. If he'd done it in school shorts, it might have looked like he was taking the Michael.
It was the nearest I've got to a real Alf Tupper moment, even if he didn't turn up eating fish and chips. He run 'em all!

Crackle and hum

No automatic alt text available.I visited my mum at the weekend and after years of promising, I finally took my vinyl record collection from her garage. It has been there for about nine years, and before that, it had been in my old bedroom since 1988 when I came home from university. Soon after that, the CD age kicked in, and although I moved house fairly regularly in my post-college days, the 12 inchers stayed put.They were played very infrequently after that, locked away in a cupboard in my minuscule room. When mum moved house, I had to box them up and she was kind enough to take them with her. Although I had my own flat in Hackney by then, it wasn't huge, and I didn't have a record deck to play them. They could easily have gone the way of my huge collection of music 'inkies' - Sounds, NME and Kerrang magazines that I would buy avidly in the teens, twenties, and thirties. These were given away after I discovered that their value - huge to me - was not appreciated by anybody else.I was obsessed with music, like many people of my age. There are so many more passions and pastimes for kids these days, or so it seems. Maybe it's just that my two are a bit young to have got the bug yet. I didn't really start to get into music until I was about 12 and moved to England. 
For me, heavy metal was my entry point. Not very cool, I know, although more so now that it ever was when I was a youth. However, it opened up a peer group for me. I was even briefly in a hard rock band with some school friends - initially as timing challenged drummer, and then as singer, the job that no one ever wanted.
After that my tastes broadened quite a bit, and so did my purchasing habits. I noticed that some of the older guys who I admired didn't feel the need to stick to just the one genre, so although I didn't ditch my love of the hard stuff, it wasn't the only thing that interested me.
Albums were relatively hard to get hold of until I got my first jobs - newspaper rounds, milk rounds, cleaning jobs, and the big break, a summer holiday working in the local bread factory. I felt like a millionaire taking home nearly £200 a week (sounds a fortune, but I doubt you'd get away with doing the hours I had to, these days).
With cash in my pocket and albums at £4-5 a pop, my collection quickly built up. I'd listen to them on my dad's old separates system or a small unit in my bedroom, making mixtapes for friends and people I wanted to impress with my catholic tastes.
Our local record shop, Buzzard Records, was a chart return shop, so there was always a stack of cheap singles and 12 inchers to be had as sales guys dropped off loads of free copies to try and hype tracks into the charts. Consequently, I've got a whole subgenre of singles by no-hit wonders who nevertheless produced great little pop moments.
I was obsessed by vinyl at that time in my life. I even took my growing record collection to university with me. It seemed inconceivable that I would leave it behind. Your music collection spoke volumes about the kind of person you were, or so I thought. I remember reading somebody saying that they'd go to parties and if the person didn't have a copy of Psychocandy in their collection, then they'd leave.
I wouldn't go that far, and I do have a copy of the Jesus and Mary Chain's first album.
Anyway, I've opened up a the first carton of albums - T-Z, of course it's alphabetised. There's quite a lot of Throwing Muses and Tom Waits, a forgotten diamond by One the Juggler (hang on, that's not T-Z - my filing system has been compromised), Tracey Thorn's lovely first solo album, and a red vinyl copy of an album by former Gillan guitarist Bernie Torme, who I was obsessed with for ages (I once sat listening to the top 40 convincing myself during the countdown to the new number one, that it must actually be him, as his latest single hadn't been played. Of course, it hadn't made the top 75, nevermind the 40).
As well as the six crates of records, I brought back my dad's old Sansui record deck, which still works, although the stylus may be a bit worn. Either that, or the records are just scratched to bits. Maybe after years of listening to pristine CD quality sound, the background crackle is more obvious than it was back in the day. I think we lived through the era of crap vinyl anyway. It was noticeable when you bought an older record. The original copy of Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left I picked up from the record shop on Camden Lock bridge (what was that called?) was move satisfyingly solid than many of the records I subsequently bought new, including the Drake compilation, Heaven in a Wild Flower, that got me into him while I was at university.
At the moment, I feel like the Howard Carter of music, going through the crate and plopping stuff on to the deck. Twenty minutes of music - the length of one side of an album kids - also seems so much more civilised than the interminable tyranny of the unedited CD. We thought it was great to get more value for your money, but really it seemed to encourage a lack of editorial quality control. A side of an album passes very quickly, forcing you to refocus every 20 minutes on what to listen to next.
After a long break from the vinyl, it seems quite hip to be listening to slabs of plastic played with a needle. The vinyl revival is now a big thing, although I can't see myself being sucked back into buying it. This is a little holiday in the past.
The last vinyl record I think I bought was Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? I got it 22 years ago at a release party at Virgin Records where the band played some numbers, and I got it signed by Noel and the drummer (sorry fella, I can't remember your name). As such, it was more of an artefact, especially as I had nothing to play it on. My then girlfriend bought the CD which was what we played.
It might be in one of those unopened boxes, although I've a feeling it may have been lost when we moved house as I think I kept that particular item close for a while.
Never mind (an album I don't have on vinyl). There are still plenty of memories to dig out.

Friday, June 09, 2017

About last night

In his braggadocious march on the White House, Donald Trump boasted that Americans would be 'winning' so often under his leadership that they'd get sick of it.
The feeling has been the opposite for many of us in the UK for the past couple of years. I'm talking about the left here obviously.
First there was the 2015 election win by David Cameron's Tories, made worse by the fact that the Lib Dems were virtually wiped out after shouldering an unfair amount of blame for the sins of the coalition - in my opinion.
Then there was last year's European referendum, which Cameron was bounced into when he landed that unexpected majority.
And, of course Trump. How the hell did that happen America?
I'll put aside various local elections and by-elections when it seemed as if Labour was incapable of pulling out of terminal tailspin.
No wonder Theresa May was licking her lips at the prospect of a snap election to lock in her good fortune to be the leader of the government at a time of such disorganised opposition with a leader who was being lampooned by the press and disliked and distrusted by the electorate. What could possibly go wrong?
There will be plenty of amateur and professional pundits picking over that one for years to come. It's still barely believable that Tess May snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Tories are the biggest party, yes, but with a reduced number of seats, no majority, and now seemingly in bed with a bunch of oddballs, the DUP.
And it is May who must carry the can, although at the minute she seems determined to carry on as if nothing has changed. Whether it was her decision or Lynton Crosby's to focus the campaign on the presidential qualities of May, barely matters now. What is incredible is how unable or unwilling they were to change tack once it started to become apparent that May was a liability.
There were so many cock ups, which could have been opportunities to reset the Maybot and try something new - the regal announcement she wouldn't debate with Jeremy Corbyn; the embarrassingly stagey stump speeches to party members; the robotic repetition of campaign slogans; the inability to think on her feet; the car crash interviews supposedly designed to show her normality (girls jobs and boys jobs, running through wheatfield...), and, of course, the U-turn on the Dementia Tax.
It's surely be an indication of how inbred Tory culture is that in 20 years as an MP nobody seemed to cotton on to how weird she is. She seemed normal to them.
As May became more strange, and the very opposite of strong and stable, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to hit his stride. I'll put my cards on the table and say that I wasn't a fan of him becoming a leader. I didn't rush to join the Labour Party to support him or any other candidate, so this is a purely personal opinion.
His appeal, to me, seemed to be to a group of people who were involved in fantasy politics, and more interested in some form of unrealistic ideological purity than the hard and dull business of winning and exercising power. Having lived through the 80s when it seemed as if Thatcher would never be usurped, my political inclinations are towards the need to compromise and devise realistic policies that won't alienate those you need in the broad church needed to win power.
Mind you, that approach didn't help Ed Miliband, whose 2015 manifesto was so uninspiring it barely stood a chance. The monstering of the right wing press didn't help either.
So while Corbynistas got more and more excited about their man, I harrumphed on the sidelines, much like most of the PLP.
But as the election campaign went on, Corbyn's appeal became more apparent against the strangeness of Theresa May. While she walked around empty factories where Tory supporters were bussed in after the real staff went home, he spoke to people wherever he found them. Both spoke to the converted, but his crowds were bigger, more enthusiastic, and made up of normal people. A lot of the content from Corbyn was old time religion for the Labour tribe, but people lapped it up, and not just party members. While she became more stilted as the campaign went on, Corbs started to find his Mojo, and although he wasn't on the cover of that particular magazine, he made it on to the front of Kerrang! and NME. He sounded normal and like the avuncular, chap that his people had spoken about, whether making self deprecating gags about his allotment, or waxing lyrical about Arsenal to a couple of fans, who obviously thought this old dude was alright.
In some ways, I think Corbyn benefited from having steered clear, or been avoided by, the mainstream media. Lots of people knew little about him, so when his profile began to build, it didn't tally with the increasingly foam flecked efforts of the Hate Mail and S*n to monster him. People liked him.
All of which was all very well, but having awoken enough over the past couple of years to news that your side really wasn't winning, I was cool on Labour's prospects, even as the chaotic opinion polls seemed to show that it was cutting into a Tory lead that had been more than 20% at one point. It could all still change on polling day. Predictions seemed meaningless - anything from Labour dropping to a rump of 150 seats of less, to doing... quite well. Anything seemed possible.
To be honest, I started out not caring about this election. I was angry, and still am angry, about the referendum, which to my mind is a piece of national self harm. I was angry about the people who voted for it and who continue to defend it. And I was angry at the Tories, for... well, reasons.
I was also angry at Corbyn's Labour Party for not getting its act together, and for turning into a kind of self-righteous cult that seemed to have no real interest in gaining power. Everything seemed such a foregone conclusion, what was the point?
But it started to change as the campaign progressed. I don't think that's been unusual. In my constituency, I decided that I was going to vote for the Lib Dem candidate, and four-time election winner in Colchester, Sir Bob Russell. It was a tactical vote. It seemed to be more important to try and limit the inevitable Tory landslide where I could, than vote for a party that I had always voted for.
As the weeks went on, my opinion shifted. There has been a real energy among the Labour people in the town and lots of activity. A poll claimed that Labour had overtaken the Lib Dems - no one was sure how robust it was, so I was still undecided. It didn't even seem to matter that much, as I was convinced that the local Tory candidate would be a shoo in.
In the end I decided as I got on my bike to cycle to the polling booth. My neighbour, who was displaying Labour posters in his window was in his garden and I stopped to chat to find out what he thought was the real state of play in the town. He had been unenthusiastic about Corbyn, but spoke passionately about the people in the local Labour team and how there did seem to be Labour surge in the town, and in the region (well done Ipswich). He thought that Labour had overtaken the Lib Dems, and pointed out that in a growing town like Colchester, who knew what could happen in the years ahead with young people and families making their homes here.
His enthusiasm got to me. He kind of told me what I wanted to hear, so I did vote for Labour candidate Tim Young. He didn't win, but he did come second, and he more than doubled the Labour vote so that they are now near enough to make the Tories sweat. Who knows what could happen next time?
Last night, Charlotte and I sat up doing the Guardian Weekend quiz - we are such cliches - not bothered about turning over to see the exit poll in real time. I wanted to know, but didn't expect much, so the prediction - now fact - that Labour had eaten into the Tories lead, and prevented a Tory majority was gratifying.
As we tuned in, John McDonnell was telling Dimbleby that the Tories had run a campaign based on nastiness and dragging politics into the gutter, much to Michael Fallon's surprise - he obviously thought they were still at the polite chit chat stage of proceedings. That made me laugh, and the prediction made me take a sharp intake of breath.
All day, people like me have had a spring in their step. There were conspiratorial grins from fellow 'saboteurs' on the school run. My neighbour was practically bouncing round the garden as he deadheaded his roses.
Tomorrow there will be a bit of sober reflection. Labour did come second after all. There's a lot that is unclear. Brexit still beckons and there could be another general election before the end of the year. The Tories can't run a campaign as bad as that again, can they?
For tonight though, I'm going to put that to one side, have a beer and feel a bit better. People have voted for hope and an alternative to the Tories offer of more of the same and a seventh year, and counting, of austerity. And in case I haven't made it clear, I have to say that I was obviously wrong about Jeremy Corbyn. The boy done good.