Jenny Colgan: Oh dear, do I really have to?

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The Independent Online

I'm trying my hardest. But I think I'm just too old. I simply can't get excited about elections any more. I'm having trouble getting even mildly interested.

I'm trying my hardest. But I think I'm just too old. I simply can't get excited about elections any more. I'm having trouble getting even mildly interested.

It used to be really good fun. And it was dead easy. Thatcher was horrid and we didn't like her and we didn't have any money, so we thought that rich people should be taxed at 90 per cent and the money given to poor people, so we were clearly on the side of the righteous. We'd sit up all night, drink beer and boo and get righteously annoyed. It was great.

Then we had an even better night, James Goldsmith making a fool of David Mellor and Michael Portillo getting turfed out by his shiny hair, and lots of 12-year-olds getting elected, to their evident surprise. Now that's television.

I feel I ought to care more. I'm even at that age where people I know are standing. You'd think that Iraq would make this a big election - it's a big issue, and surely we should all be looking to make a big statement to the Prime Minister - but how, apart from being rude to him at public occasions? What's the point if the Tories supported it, too? Nope, apathy rules.

Personally, I have no problem with the apathy vote. The, "hneah, whatever" factor can't get me overheated, because I always assume that just means you're reasonably happy with what's going on. Presumably, the state we're all working towards in politics is everyone being so unbelievably happy that nobody votes at all in case it takes time out of their constant state of bliss.

In an ideal world there'll be a near-empty polling station with just one grumpy red-faced man who wants to rip up foxes and a pallid chap with dreadlocks who'd rather he didn't.

Not voting is not an option, though. I have too many vivid memories from my schooldays of the snippet of footage showing Emily Wilding Davison throwing herself under the King's horse. But I will definitely miss the feeling of excitement, power, and sheer grown-upness that I've always felt while voting (along with flying alone, reverse parking and giving blood).

Ah, those happy days - shooting furious looks at the smug Tory canvasser outside the closed primary school, cunning winks to the other chap, marking your big X, watching as Peter Snow's ever more complex swingometer gets in one seat for the Lib Dems in Devon at 10.05pm and predicts a swing to Charles Kennedy of 97 per cent. Sigh. Maybe one day they'll return. But somehow, I doubt it.

Jenny Colgan's latest novel is 'Do You Remember the First Time?', published by HarperCollins at £5.99

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