'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 Another poll has superseded Zogby; someone called Rasmussen has managed to reverse Matthew's mood.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

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz