Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

May 11, 2010

Notes on the UK Election

Only the British can transform an electoral circus into a dignified waltz. Witness this BBC headline: "Talks between Labour and the Liberal Democrats appear to have reached no conclusion." I had to read it a few times (and watch the attendant coverage) to suss out the translation: talks broke off.

Equally enjoyable is the manner in which election results are announced. Nothing is revealed until every vote is counted, at which time a well-respected returning officer strides to the podium. He/she is flanked by the candidates, all of whom wear gaudy ribbons to identify their party affiliation, looking for all the world as if they were contestants in a dog show. At last—and with much gravitas—the well-respected returning officer makes a sober announcement:

"I, Whatever Whatever, Returning Officer for the Constituency of Lambeth, hereby declare the results of the 2010 General Election as follows: Hutchison, Christopher James Charles, commonly known as 'Thing,' Monster Raving Loony Party, 78 votes." At which point the frizzy-haired bloke on the officer's left—he of the candy-cane suit, fluorescent green tie and oversize bowler hat—clasps his hands, raises them above his head and breaks into a big grin.

This delightful mix of restraint, decorum and out-and-out lunacy tells me that Britain is where I belong.

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