Local Elections – Canvassing Opinion

After three months, what have I got to say about being a new person as part of an election campaign?

Being entirely out of your comfort zone is nowhere near as bad as you think it is going to be

This whole campaign has been new to me, however, lots of it has been on the fringes of my job, or just drawing from my personal experience of being a human.  But I was nervous about canvassing as I had absolutely no experience of that and I’m not ordinarily the sort of person who knocks on people’s doors to introduce myself. And generally speaking, people wouldn’t have the slightest interest in knowing who I am.  Some of them may still not. And that’s after having met me.  But we’re back to the thing I said in an earlier blog – if people don’t know who I am then how can I expect them to vote for me?  

It turns out that I didn’t really need to worry.   Out of all the doors I have knocked on, only two people have been unpleasant.  One woman opened the door and without us having uttered a word, started shouting.  As she ranted, her eyes moved from Nigel over to me, and I don’t know what expression I had, but at the point at which our eyes met, she started to think better of it, her shouting petered out and she then slammed the door.  We put her down as a maybe.  

Another chap shouted quite a lot of unintelligible stuff, but essentially we surmised that he didn’t want our leaflet.  Not even as a compost bin liner.  Given that he had chased us down the road at some speed to give it back to us, we decided that he was probably not going to vote for us.  We didn’t take the time to establish whether he was going to vote for anyone else.  My guess is not.  But worth considering him if you need something taking to someone else in the village in a rush.

People are fundamentally decent

I do not have a crystal ball.  I have no idea how people are going to vote, if indeed they vote at all.  But one thing I am abundantly clear about is that people have had enough of the nonsense of the past few years.  Pick a subject, any subject that someone is likely to talk to you about on the doorstep, and they have had it up to here.  Whether it is partygate, the cost of living crisis, the NHS…..they are sick and tired of this parlous state of affairs and they want change.  They want things to be better.  Not just for themselves, but for everyone.

If you want to get fit, then stand for election

With twelve villages to cover, we would not have been able to get our message out without the army of dedicated volunteers who have been helping us. So I must take this opportunity to thank them so very much. They know who they are, even if you don’t. That is not to say that Nigel and I have been sat idle. We have wanted to walk as many of the villages we can ourselves so we can meet villagers and learn things that only local people would know. On Sunday morning I was amused to hear our volunteer utter the words “well you’re younger and fitter so you can deliver those leaflets to the houses at the top of that hill”. By Sunday afternoon in a third village, I was less amused. And as Nigel took a short break on a bench claiming to be checking everything was in order in that part of the village as our volunteer and I tackled another incline, I turned to him and said “we’ve broken Nigel”. I have walked so much that I have lost five pounds in a week. Naturally this has been ruined by me compensating for this loss with large quantities of biscuits and chocolate, but the principle remains – stand for election and there’ll be less of you by the end of it.

The Stratford Lib Dems are a feisty lot

When there was at least five pounds more of me, I met some of the Lib Dems at Stratford HQ.  For whatever reason, the Lib Dems don’t seem to evoke the same strength of feeling as the Conservatives or Labour.  What I can tell you now I have spent time with some of them, they are passionate. The Lib Dems actually care about changing people’s lives for the better  – one by one.

……..but a lovely lot

One of the reasons I agreed to stand for election was because these opportunities don’t come to everybody.  And for whatever reason, this left-field opportunity had come to me and it might not come by again.  I considered my ability to do the actual job should I be elected, I thought about the time, but I didn’t consider the people I would be working with.

So as we are down to the final stretch we have walked, posted, knocked, chatted, walked, walked, walked….twelve villages to cover… much walking. And that would be a lot harder to do if you weren’t working with a decent bunch of people.

In the throes of an election campaign tempers can get a little frayed.  Everyone is under pressure.  Everyone has stuff they want to get done.  So I have to thank the staff at Stratford HQ for coming up with the goods.  Richard Vos who peeled me off the ceiling after a particularly fraught moment.  Jenny Wilkinson for endless offers of help and support.  And of course, I have to thank Nigel, whom I have perhaps not broken, but is no doubt a little more dented than he was before this all kicked off.  As are we all.

Published and promoted by Richard Vos on behalf of Nigel Rock and Natalie Gist (Liberal Democrats) all at 55 Ely Street Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6LN


Chicken Run

eggs in tray on white surface
Photo by Daniel Reche on

For those of you who read my blog regularly you will know that my family and I keep chickens. I came quite literally face to face with my nemesis the other week. No, not my mother. A fox. As I came back from walking the Hound I encountered some feathers in the road. Not those of Speckled Jim, but feathers which looked very much like they had previously been attached to one of our speckled chickens. As I walked further up the hill I saw a bushy, black-tipped tail above the brow of a low hedge in our garden. I chased up the garden and the tail picked up speed to a light trot. I surmised that Mr Fox was still in the vicinity and his name was not Basil. I got to the top of the garden and Definitely Not Called Basil had reached the brow of the hill ahead of me. He stopped, turned, looked at me and then slowly walked away. If he could have flipped me the bird, he would have done.

At this point some of you may be wondering why I didn’t unleash the Hound. Those of you who have met the Hound will not be wondering. So for the benefit of those of you who have not been brought a shoe on arrival at my house, the Hound thinks he’s a chihuahua and is no match for a dog fox Definitely Not Called Basil.

So then began the grizzly and unpleasant job of securing the crime scene. As far as the Childerbeasts were concerned, we had six chickens in the morning and only two in the evening. That caused enough upset. The reality was rather more unpleasant. I found one headless body not far from the house, and whilst I was locating suspicious piles of feathers and trying to coax anyone hiding back out with some corn, my neighbour came round to let me know that she too had located an equally suspicious pile of feathers on her front door step. As her chickens were in, she had reached the inevitable conclusion.

Whilst I was in the garden with my neighbour, Definitely Not Called Basil, brazen bastard that he is, came back. His paw stopped mid-air as our eyes locked and in that moment we assessed eachother. He wisely concluded that he did not want to take me on and retreated.

After an hideous evening with lots of tears shed by the Childerbeasts, Man of the House spent an entire weekend trying to create a secure area for the chickens. We agreed that it would be unwise to create a buffet arrangement in that Definitely Not Called Basil could get in but the chickens could not get out. One of his suggestions was to put an electric fence around our entire garden. Tempting as that was to deter some visitors, I was not keen. Another would have looked like Colditz which might be considered a little too elaborate. So we have settled on some fencing. The enclosure is close to, and in the sight of, the house. And four new chickens have joined the two who came home on the evening of that fateful day.

However, the two who came home keep getting out. They jump onto a wall, sneak under the hedge and into the woods beyond. In order to try and limit the future carnage, I have put some canes across the top of the wall with some bunting to encourage the two escapees to stay in the enclosure near to the house. The bunting I have chosen is all twenty eight flags of the European Union. We have been having much Fun with Flags and they have been re-arranged several times to try and encourage the two chickens who insist on escaping, to remain. I am not suggesting that the other four will not be literally snapped up at any point, but the enclosure was made with their longevity in mind and one hopes it provides a certain degree of protection. However, there are only so many times I can re-arrange the flags and chase two chickens around the garden with a stick and some corn to try and save them from themselves before they get devoured. Therefore, I must prepare for the inevitable, which in spite of the efforts of the adults in the house, will affect us all.

It is almost as it there is some sort of analogy that I could draw with current events, if only I could put my finger on what it is.