'Days Like These: The polls, the polls... Matthew is begging us to make it all go away'

Share
Related Topics

Matthew, who is always gifting us with his entirely unsolicited, wholly inaccurate impersonation of James Mason, has unwittingly come up with a new, far more entertaining party trick. And, in all the ways that he gets Mason wrong, he gets this one absolutely right; it is Charles Laughton as the hunchback of Notre Dame. The tone is spot on, the hunched, drag-footed walk is uncanny and it is only the actual words that are ever so slightly changed – instead of "The bells, the bells", what Matthew wails is "The polls, the polls".

The polls are of course taking place in America and Barack Obama is Matthew's Esmeralda, his object of unrequited love, (although I am sure that if they were ever to meet Barack could, in time, grow fond of his number one, weirdo fan.)

It is four years since the fixation began, since Matthew first heard his idol speak. For some time now he has woken each morning, reached for his laptop, danced his fingers lightly over the keyboard and called up the overnight news from the US. The only time the computer then leaves his lap is during his morning and evening baths (Matthew has always been a regular bather), and while he did ask a computer expert about a waterproof model, apparently the cost was prohibitive.

Many an evening, as Louis and I happily watch re-runs of Frasier, Matthew sits alongside, the computer on his lap. Every so often his head snaps forward into his hands and a low whine is emitted. "What now, Dad?" Louis asks. "Gallup again?" "No, not Gallup. Zogby. Bloody Zogby the pollster. Zogby has it tightening to a four-point race. Oh please I'm begging you, in all seriousness, find some way to put me out of my misery until this election is over."

"How many sleeping pills would it actually take," I ask hopefully, "to induce a controlled coma?" "Don't joke," wails Matthew. "It is not a joking matter. I honestly don't think I can take any more of this." "I wasn't joking," I say, and then I go and make him a nice, sweet cup of tea and tell him not to worry because a new poll will be along soon, and the chances are it will bring relief and reassurance.

But before the kettle has even boiled the mood has lifted. "Splendid! Splendid! Marvellous. Bless Virginia's heart!" he bellows at such volume that Steptoe, our profoundly deaf, aged Westie, scurries off to seek sanctuary behind the sofa. Another poll has superseded Zogby; someone called Rasmussen has managed to reverse Matthew's mood. He has now opened a bottle of champagne and is urging us to charge our glasses, or in Louis's case charge the eggcup in which he is allowed a few drops of Moët. "Raise 'em, please, lady and gentleboy. Now I give you the good people of the great commonwealth of Virginia." Louis and I repeat the toast and sip and Matthew takes Louis on his knee like Grandpa Walton and says: "Who'd have believed it, son? Who'd have thought a black man could be on the verge of entering the White House."

He wipes his eyes, blows his nose and embarks on a lecture, not too pompous or didactic by his standards, on how once there were more slaves in Virginia than any other state (or commonwealth). He talks of demographics and floating voters. Finally he picks up the computer, the fingers dance and the head smacks forward into his hands in despair. "That's it," he barks, "no more champagne. Bad news from Florida, except, hang on, hang on a minute..."

He leaps up and does a jerky little dance, muttering "Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, chuck in Iowa's seven electoral college votes... no, we're OK. He doesn't necessarily need Florida. In fact, if he can hold on in Pennsylvania, he doesn't even need Colorado." And then he slumps back into the chair and looks at me with pleading eyes. "Make it stop," he whimpers. "If you love me even an iota, will you not find a way to make it stop?"

"What can I possibly do?" I ask. "You just have to find a coping mechanism." "Yes, you are right," he says, "that is the only solution. A coping mechanism. Chanting perhaps, meditation. I could be cryogenically frozen. Or, or I could get totally plastered and spend from now until it is over in a drunken stupor. Fetch me the whisky. But not the Famous Grouse. I can't explain it, but I feel that the only thing that will do is The Bells. Get me The Bells. The bells, the bells."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas