Monday, 31 May 2010

Running / Driving / Reading updates

Rather than having to write separate lists for separate things on disparate blogposts, here is a list of things I have done in these various fields of personal endeavour. In future posts, I will only show the ten most recent runs/drives. As for the reading, I have shown the books I have read since November when I started taking records.


27/01/10 - 5km, 37 minutes (8.1km/hr)
29/01/10 - 6km, 42 minutes (8.6km/hr)
01/02/10 - 6km, 43 minutes (8.4km/hr)
04/02/10 - 7km, 48 minutes (8.8km/hr)
07/02/10 - 9km, 64 minutes (8.4km/hr)
09/02/10 - 4km, 25 minutes (9.6km/hr)
27/04/10 - 1½km, 10 minutes (9km/hr)
10/05/10 - 3km, 19 minutes (9.5km/hr)

29/05/10 - 4.5km, 30 minutes (9km/hr)

23/05/10 - 50 minutes, through Hove
26/05/10 - 40 minutes, to Poynings
27/05/10 - 25 minutes, to supermarket

Read (since November)
Stanislaw Lem - The Star Diaries (1971)
Morris Kline - Mathematics in Western Culture (1953)
Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels (1726)
Alistair Cooke - American Journey (1945)
Robin Shelton - Two hundred poems from the Greek Anthology (1971
Robert Harris - Imperium (2006)
Jo Swinnerton - The London Pocket Companion (2008)

Dan Harrington - Harrington on Cash Games Volume I (2008)
Anthony Seldon - Major: A Political Life (1997)
Robert Beckman - Crashes (1988)
Alistair Cooke - Letter from America (2004)
Matt Mattross - Making of a Poker Player (2005)

So that's this month's list. Expect a similar one on 30th June. Or maybe a few days before that, as I'm probably going to be going up to the Midlands near the end of the month and so probably won't have the opportunity to blog.

In other news, it is now exactly a year since my last ever exam at university.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Chronic Anachronism

29/05/10 - 4.5km, 30 minutes (9km/hr)

During my university course 'Radicalism in the English Revolution' (or 'RITER' for short) we learned about a veritable Babylon of fringe groups, who suddenly found themselves with a voice following the breakdown of censorship and social order during the 1640s. Some called for relatively moderate things, like the abolition of the bishopry or the extention of franchise. Some were rather more absurd. Amongst this absurd category were the Ranters, who can essentially be called 'spiritual-anarchists'. They believed that God was present in all things, and that there was no more holiness in the scriptures than there was in, for instance, a dog, or an apple. They argued that 'sin' was essentially the product of the imagination, and that no single authority had the right to define or defend against it. Furthermore, these notions of sinlessness and freedom from higher authorities extended into their personal lives - the gutter press of the period widely reported the depraved, sexual immoral behaviour of the Ranters, who were continually portrayed as a threat to the established order. Of course they were by no means the only threat to the established order, but they were perhaps the most singularly anti-establishment of any of the radical groups of the time - they didn't just question the establishment, they questioned the very idea of 'establishment' itself.

All very modern - no surprise that when asked whether they "would have been a ranter", many of my classmates put their hand up. Because hey, we're students aren't we! We're modern and hip and open minded. And we certainly would have been 360 years ago too!

Which reminded me of something I had heard four years earlier in a philosophy class. For a start I should explain the demographic. These were weekly classes held by the headmaster for sixth formers. They were essentially informal although many of the class were working towards an AS in the subject, whose modules would be spread over two years. It's fair to say that out of the fifteen or so of us (although numbers did fluctuate from week to week) there were only three or four people who actually studied and thought about philosophy away from these classes. One of these people was the Headmaster himself, and he regular engaged in argument with some of the brighter attendees. I was in another group - those who weren't particularly interested in sitting exams or the often confusing intricacies and arguments and technicalities and definitions that seemed to densely populate the world of 'philosophy'. This didn't mean to say I, or anyone else present, was anti-intellectual in any way, we were just observers to the spectacle, and were happy to let the gladiators do their business. There was a third group, perhaps the largest of the three, who did take the classes seriously, and were high academic achievers, but didn't seem to be interested in philosophy per se - to many of them it must have been just another subject under their already buldging belts.

The classes were sometimes formally structured, but often followed whatever stream the headmaster's consciousness had decided to spring forth. Sometimes he would give us physical lessons in epistemology, pointing out that all definitions are necessarily relative. Sometimes he would become the butt of the joke, one of the brighter (if rather more attention-seeking) students arguing that throwing a stool at the headmaster might be a good move from a utilitarian point of view, as although it would cause the headmaster some degree of pain, it would nevertheless bring a great deal of happiness to the spectators.

But fun episodes like that were not necessarily the norm. Being a classroom, everybody had to have their say, whether they had an opinion or not. And as you may have gathered many of us, mere sponges in the great bath of knowledge, didn't really have much of an opinion, or if we did it tended to be a defensive reflex to please the Headmaster rather than any distinctly personal, well-formed appraisal.

Sometimes the classes delved into the downright sociological. On one particularly dull class we somehow ended up talking about Hitler (cf. Godwin's Law), and the Headmaster, in conversation with one of the few girls in the class as to whether she would have housed Jews to hide them from Nazi persecution. Her response was an emotive, almost defensive "of course I would!".

She may have. But alas, she has fallen into the same trap as the Ranters in my history class, and made the strange assumption that she, as she is now, would be the same she if she was plonked into some point in the past. Trying to answer a question like this from our existing knowledge is like trying to create a World War Two 3D combat simulation game, getting somebody to play it, and then asking the gamer what their personal 'opinion' of war is. You can't simulate the fear and anxiety over the fact that the next bullet that hits you will probably kill you.

Back in August I was at Newhaven Fort, and one of the displays there was a mock-up air raid shelter. You can pack people into a bunker, make the lights flicker and sway and play siren noises and bomb sounds in the background. But you can't simulate the fear, the fact that you might live to see life outside the shelter ever again. Or that if you do survive, you might not have a house to return to.

Similarly, you can have all the fun you like going to historical recreations, either of battles or courtly life, say, in the Medieval era. But you can't simulate the rather rustic, smelly and brutal environment which dominated much of the medieval world, even within castles themselves. If someone was

Perhaps more importantly, you can't put yourself in the medieval mentality, or any other mentality for that matter. You can not truly understand the world around you in any way except the way you currently know. You can read about how they imagined it, but you will always be doing so through twenty-first century eyes and understanding. Theirs will always be the more primitive world view, the more superstitious one, the less well-informed one, pretty much by definition.

So next time you dress up in chain-mail, bear that in mind. And next time somebody asks you what you would have done if you were a German in the late 1930s, tell them that you honestly don't know, and that it is impossible to 'put yourself in their shoes' partly because even if you were you (rather than the equivalent of 'you' in a bygone age, if such a thing can exist) you would have to change your definition of 'you' based on your circumstances, as what are we now except heaps of molecules reacting to our surroundings? Would you be quite so eager in accommodating the persecuted if it meant the difference between enjoying a relatively comfortable Bavarian dream or getting shot at dawn?

A similar issue exists in modern politics. Many have criticized the Liberal Democrats for 'sacrificing their principles to get into power', and other such emotive claptrap. The whole purpose of a political party is to seek a role in government, and to claim that they are sacrificing their principles is really saying that they are sacrificing the principles that you agree with more than their other principles. So the idea that 'if you were in Cleggs shoes' you would have made no deal at all is pretty much pathetic and infantile, and you know it is.

I will probably post a tidied-up version of this post on Three Men on a Blog, perhaps with a witty ending, or certainly something slightly smoother than what appears here, for as it is a three-man blog I should make take three times the effort.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Driving me sane!

The more I drive, the stranger I find pedestrians. I mean seriously, if people drove the way they walked, there'd be very many licences revoked and very few cars left on the road! Not to mention 1,000s of casualties. People swaying from one side of the pavement to the other, people walking diagonally, people talking on their phones, people bumping into each other! Perhaps the worst of the multitude of pedestrian indignities is the fact that when two people are walking towards each other and are on course to collide, there is no law or precedent to give us any indication of who should give way to who, let alone which way they should shift. Time and time again I have seen two people shifting in the same direction, and then again in a re-shift, and so on, not being able to get past one another until someone breaks the sequence - unless of course they both break the sequence, in which case a new sequence is started. If this were to happen with cars, who knows the amount of twisted metal we would have lying on our roads!

As for 'Driving me sane!' title, it refers to the fact that I have resumed my driving recently, and have found it pretty fun. Serious business too, of course, but fun, and the combination of responsibility and excitement always stops me worrying about pointless things. What do I mean by pointless things anyway? I suppose I mean things like sleeping hours, my hair or food hygiene.

Have done three drives so far. On Sunday morning I did a general practice drive, which included Hove and Portslade, stopping off at PC World. Yesterday I drove out to Rushfields near Fulking (including some nasty country roads) and today I drove to a nearby supermarket.

Have made a post on Three Men on a Blog.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Got up at around quarter to six. I didn't have to, I just felt like it. Set out for a morning walk. As I did so, I began to realise just how dull the world is at that time of the morning. Sure everything's fresh and bright, but it's just so desperately quiet. In fact it's not even that fresh - usually the litter from the previous night is still scattered around the pavement like a slag.

It wasn't until around quarter past eight that I rolled up Preston Street, a street which boasts around 40 dining establishments, including my favourite China China. A lot of the establishments have four and five star hygiene ratings according to the Scores on the Doors programme, so I have no excuse not to check them out. Despite being fairly observant on food hygiene, I hadn't actually heard about the Scores on the Doors programme until a friend (even more observant on food hygiene than me) pointed it out. Not only is the food less likely to be poisoned, but is likely to be better anyway, he claims, as the cleaner a place is the better organised it is, and the better organised it is the better the meal-preparation is likely to be.

The restaurants are almost exclusively international, with a high proportion of Far-Eastern and Middle-Eastern establishments. There are also a few classics, like Dig in the Ribs or the Aberdeen Steakhouse. Asides from some multicuisine takeaways near the top of the street (kebabs et al.) there is, by my counting, only one Italian restaurant. I was reminded of the cheerful title of a book I had once come across called 'Pizza, Pasta & Poker', with some smiling guy in a baseball cap at the front. "Hi, I'm living the (Italian-)American Dream!" He didn't actually say that, I made up those words myself. I haven't even looked inside the book let alone read it, so I am not sure whether the book itself echoes the sentiment I have attributed to it.

Will I read it? Probably not. There are dozens of books in this house I should like to read first, and my reading of them will probably spark an interest in further reading on some select subjects - I doubt poker will be one of these subjects.

I do like pizza though. And pasta. And poker!

Monday, 24 May 2010


I never read an awful lot as a child. I found it neither aesthetically enjoyable nor intellectually stimulating. However, while at university reading became a matter of course (literally). Though I did not always enjoy grinding my way through essays on the Early Modern era, reading did become a key part of my routine in a way it had not before.

One of the most enjoyable solitary pursuits at university was when I read something which was not course related. I didn't have a lot of time for this though, for there was only so much energy I had for reading and most of it did indeed get used up plowing through the archives.

It was only once I graduated that I began to take reading a little more seriously. I began to miss the simple pleasure of sitting down and digesting words.

When I was in Peru in October I spent quite a lot of time looking through the books on the shelves of our hosts. Though they were mainly in Spanish or French, the idea of reading began to appeal to me a little more. It just seemed like a very civilized pass time.

I had brought along some English books with me. One was a copy of Around the World in Eighty Days, a book I had actually taken out from the school library around ten years earlier and had never returned. I read it while in Peru and left it as a gift for my fifteen-year-old cousin, who had a few other Verne titles on his shelf. I also took along Robert Bartlett's The Making of Europe, a text I had supposed to have read in 2nd year at university but had never got round to. I didn't finish it in the end. Like the period itself, the book was ostensibly dull.

By the time I returned from Peru I had settled to the idea that book reading was an excellent passtime, and was often far more rewarding than staring vapidly at the computer. Not that there is anything wrong with computers, but you must remember that a computer is simply a tool. A servant. You must not let it become your master. And I could not let myself spend every night tapping away at my machine until my eyelids started to bat and my head sway with fatigue. Reading represented a nice inbetween, a bridge between the work of the day and sleep.

Anyway, here's what I've read since starting the Log
Stanislaw Lem, The Star Diaries (1971) - 275 pages
Morris Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture (1953) - 526 pages
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1726) - 316 pages
Alistair Cooke's American Journey (1945) - 310 pages
Robin Skelton, Two hundred poems from the Greek Anthology (1971) - 76 pages
Jo Swinnerton, The London Pocket Companion (2008) - 143 pages

There was a spell for about there months (mid Feb to mid May) where I hardly read at all, though I'm not quite sure why.

Currently reading a few others, namely Imperium by Robert Harris, Crashes by Robert Beckman and Major: A Political Life by Anthony Seldon, my old headmaster. I'm also half way through Harrington on Cash Volume I, but am in no hurry to read that as I've sort of grown a bit bored of poker.

What's that, bored of poker?

It's not chronic boredom. I haven't grown out of it. I just don't want to spend too much of my spare time playing it, particularly not online tournaments. (Indeed, I have not played at all this month). However, I still relish the prospect of playing some UKIPT/GUKPT side events, which will be coming to Brighton in July and September respectively.

My financial situation is fairly vague at the moment (long story), but I would like to go to the 1/1 tables at the Vic some time this year with at least five full-buy ins (200BB) once I have a sufficient bank roll.

Am wondering whether to post this on Three Men on a Blog. Probably not. It doesn't really go with the blog dyanmic at the moment. Of course, as I represent 33% of the authorship, I have a role in setting what that dyanmic is. But as a general rule, the more a blog post is about me (rather than about a thing) the more likely I would be to post it here.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Grand Coalition

And so it came to pass, that the combined forces of S. Evans, D. Mumby and T. Wales should unite in their blog-writing efforts to produce a blog of all the talents.

Three Men on a Blog

This doesn't mean night night for Royal Fish Tilt Blog, however. In fact, the charecter of this blog will remain exactly the same as it is currently. The frequency of my posts on Three Men on a Blog will depend on a number of factors, though I shall leave all that to instinct right now as things are only just getting started. When I do post something on Three Men on a Blog then I shall link to it from here so that you will not miss out. Of course the chances ar that a lot of the things I publish there will be published here too.

That's about if from me for now. My next blog post here is likely to a continuation of my poker saga, Hand History. Keep your eyes peeled and your cards close to your chest.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

"Great Minds Think Alike..."

was originally intended as an ironic jibe, so I have heard! It refers to the supposed self-congratulatory conformity amongst academic circles, a criticism of the fat, vapid and uncreative minds to whom the prospect of sitting around a table nodding their heads like so many bloated dogs was a satisfying station in life. In other words, the supposedly 'great minds' weren't really great at all - they just sit around agreeing with eachother, asserting platitudes and scratching their egos.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

"There aren't enough hours in the day"

Actually, if there were 'enough' hours in the day, then we would eventually change what our expectation of what can be done in one day actually is. As a result, we'd still end up with a situation where there "aren't enough hours" to do what is expected of us in the allocated time.

Thus the only way to truly rid us of this hackneyed phrase is to get rid of the word 'hours' altogether. Sure people would still use another word like minutes, but at least it would be more interesting.

Perhaps if everyone had rational expectations of what they could achieve and ensure that they do not shy from their responsibilities, then we wouldn't have to use the phrase at all, for the sentiment it represents would no longer exist.

Of course in 40 years time (cause 2050 is a great arbitrary benchmark for 'some point in the future') our life will be governed solely by mechanical and electronic impulse. Everyone will be so physically adept and mentally agile and perfectly nourished that there will no longer be any need for 'sentiment' of whatever shape or form. For surely feelings and opinions, and other such social anxieties, only emerge when our mind has been taken of the ball. The ball of life. Some might call this 'the grind', but that in itself is a pretty emotive, yea, sentimental descriptor. For once we are in the flow of things, our 'grind' becomes us. We no longer perceive it to be a grind, it is not a chore or a task to be got out of the way. What is worse, hard work or the anticipation of it?

Birthday tomorrow! I've heard a few dull iconoclasts complain about the fact birthdays are 'arbitrary' - aside from the fact that the earth is at the same point in the orbit cycle as it was the day you were born, there is nothing special about birthdays, and so there is no need to celebrate anything.
However, in a sense years and days are one of the very few real things that exist. They're not human constructs in anyway - the number of days in a year, for instance, is not a matter of choice, it's a matter of physics, as we can not change the definition of a day or a year as we could a week or a month. Or for that matter a minute, a second, a metre... et cetera.

The arbitrariness which the hyper-rationalists criticize is, of course, not the measurements of days or years themselves, but the tendency to celebrate them. Well, this raises the question - "why celebrate anything?". Which in turn raises the question "why do anything whatsoever about anything at all... ever?" Why do things that will improve my emotional state when I know, at the end of the day, that mood is essentially an illusion brought about by chemical imbalances in my body.

I've got more to say about the hypocrisies of atheists, but that can wait for another blog post.

Clever Clegg

Legislation towards a fully-elected House of Lords

Elections to be based on a proportional system

House of Lords suddenly more representative than Commons

Pressure for Commons to switch to a more proportional system too

Lib Dems get what they've always wanted

Monday, 10 May 2010

Election 2010 - A Night to Remember

10/05/10 - 3km, 19 minutes (9.5km/hr)

A few weeks ago I watched the BBC coverage of Election 2005, which had been helpfully uploaded by a fellow anorak. What struck me the most was how little of it I remembered. This is party due to the fact that election nights, by their very nature, seldom follow an easily memorable narrative. Also, I believe I often switched between the BBC and other networks. Moreover, I had gone to sleep at around 2.30am, shortly after the Hove result, and so did not witness many of the more dramatic results, which generally occured between 3am and 6am. I did, of course, have school the next morning, and given that I usually got up at 6am on school days, I would have been able either to watch the whole election or sleep. Not both.

This time there were no such constraints, and I followed the election from the exit poll all the way to the last result, give or take an hour or two to sleep and another hour or two to go out on the Friday afternoon.

For me the excitement began years ago. Ever since the American Presidential election in 2004 I have kept a keen eye on electoral politics. It wasn't so much the issues and manifestos that caught my eye, but rather the numbers and colourful displays, and the element of raw competition. After all, it's not very often someone gets the chance to decide who governs them.

As for this election, it was in February that I really got fired up. I discovered the UK Polling Report website and simultaneously got hold of the implied 2005 results on Electoral Calculus. I started following the polls and making my own predictions.

The tensest point of the campaign was at the end of February. On a train back from London I read a leading article in the Times which discussed the possibility that Gordon Brown was still on track to win the election. This was on the basis of a poll which showed the Conservatives on 37% and Labour on 35% - the electoral bias giving Labour a substantial lead in seats based on this poll.

The strangest point of the campaign was the Lib Dem surge following the first debate, and the for the next week the three parties were all polling within an uncomfortable narrow range.

The most anticipated point actually followed the campaign - the BBC/ITN/SKY exit poll announced at 10pm once the polling stations had closed.


I was in my parents room at the time. We were fairly cheerful about the result. I took especial cheer in the fact that the Libdems were forecasted to lose seats, although at the time I did not really believe it. After all, they had been polling around 26/27% all the way to polling day - we might rightfully have expected a Lib Dem squeeze but losing seats? I assumed the Lib Dem figure would end up around ten or fifteen seats higher, and Labour down by the same amount. Though I acknowledged that the 307 for the Tories was a good result (compared to what it might have been) I was still quietly confident that by the end of the night the figure would be enough for the Conservatives to either govern as a minority or just skim a majority.

The first result came at around ten to eleven. Good old Sunderland South. Or I should day Houghton & Sunderland South, as it is now known after boundary changes.
 8.4% SWING from LAB to CON

Then came Washington & Sunderland West.
11.6% SWING from LAB to CON

Then came Sunderland Central.
4.8% SWING from LAB to CON

A mixed set of results but on balance they showed a huge swing to the Conservatives.

Then came the first Conservative gain.
9.4% SWING from LAB to CON

At this point I was laughing. I got a text from Mike saying "Yeh reckon you've won. Congrats."

Then came Battersea - GAIN.
6.5% SWING from LAB to CON

But over the next few hours there were far fewer of these massive swings.
Telford - LABOUR HOLD.
6.3% SWING from LAB to CON.

Tooting - LABOUR HOLD.
3.6% SWING from LAB to CON.

It was suddenly all becoming a bit uncertain, and the results were coming in very slowly. Birmingham Edgbaston, a symbolic marginal taken by Labour in 1997, had yet to declare. I was impatient for this result, as it was meant to have been the very first marginal to declare.

The Liberal/Conservative marginals proved a fun fight, and the ousting of Lembit Opik in Montgomeryshire on a 13.2% swing to the Tories came as a big surprise.

Even after 150 results there was no clear picture of what was going on, so divergent were the results around the country. But the swing towards the Conservative seemed patchy rather than decisive, and I began to concede that a Conservative majority was no longer a realistic possibility.

This was confirmed when Birmingham Edgbaston finally declared in the early hours. It was a hold for Labour's Gisela Stuart. Her vote had decreased by 2.5%, but the Tories vote had also decreased by 1.5%. So in one of the key marginals, the swing was only half a percent.

It seemed Labour were doing better in areas with high ethnic minority populations. Much of the Muslim vote had been lost to the Liberal Democrats during the 2005 election over the Iraq War was now coming back to Labour, has the hard feelings over the war had more or less faded away.

It was a messy, slow few hours. Nevertheless, I was still sufficiently enthused to stay awake. In any case, there would no way I would have been able to sleep while the three Brighton seats were still in the balance.

Hove declared at some time around dawn. The BBC didn't go into the nitty gritty of the result as it was by this stage one of a string of many fairly normal, marginal gains. The Conservatives took Hove but on a disappointing swing of 2.4%. The Tory vote only went up by 0.3%, the Labour vote going down by 4.5%. The Libdem vote increased by a surprising 4.6%. Hove had finally returned blue, but only with a majority of 1868, meaning that next time Hove will be a marginal for the foruth election in a row. (I do not count 1997 - though Hove was gained by Labour then it was nowhere near marginal nominally - there just happened to be a massive swing.)

Brighton Kemptown came next. A Tory gain, more decisive at 4%. It was a fairly equal swing too: Labour down 4.1%, Conservatives up 3.8%. However, like Hove, the new majority is a wafer thin 1328. The Trade Union and Socialist Party Candidate Dave Hill, whom I wrote about on an earlier post, only got 194 votes, roughly 0.5% of the total cast.

Brighton Pavilion, having been identified by many as a place where the Greens had a chance of winning, was shown on television. My mother came in as the result was announced (just before 6AM) so she saw it too.

Green - 16,238
Labour - 14,986
Tory - 12,275
Libdems - 7,159
UKIP - 948

And a few independents.

I was pretty pleased at the result. I didn't really think the Conservatives had a strong chance in this seat, and was glad that a Green victory helped wipe Labour clean off the South Coast. But I was also glad for the Greens, and for Brighton. The result sort of confirmed the fact that Brighton isn't like other places, and that only in a city as 'bohemian' as Brighton could a result like this come to pass.

Warwick and Leamington was one of the later declarations, turning Conservative on an 8.8% swing. It had originally been claimed that the turnout in this constituency was around 84%, but for some reason the current figure on display on the BBC is only 71%. Neighbouring Kenilworth reported a record turnout of 81.2%, but again I am doubtful as to the figure.

From around 7-11am I was half asleep in bed, watching some of the remaining results trickling in. Westmorland and Lonsdale declared at some point during this slumber, and aside from the 11.1% swing from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats, there was also a 5.6% drop in Labour's vote, collapsing to a measly 2.2%, the lowest Labour share of the vote in the country.

But Labour's vote across the country had not collapsed. Though 29% was the lowest figure since the days of Michael Foot, it was still enough for them to hold onto well over 250 seats. The exit poll had proved correct, even more accurate than the one in 2005.

As for my own prediction, I was right about the Conservative and Labour share of the vote. However, like most pollsters I overestimated the Libdem share by around 3%, and underestimated the Others share by around 3% too.

My seat number predictions were correct for the Tories ('300+') but I expected the Libdems to make gains of Labour, which on balance they did not, so my prediction for those two parties are out by around fifteen or twenty. I was right about Con/Lib marginals being bitter, and right about their being no clear leader between the two. But the volatility surprised me a little.

My assumption that turnout would go up by around 8% or so (based on a 20% increase from last times figures - I hope you understand the difference between a percent of 61% compared to a percent of 100) proved incorrect - turnout only went up by about 4%. Perhaps this had a lot to do with unsure voters not making a decision in the end, or with Libdem supporters failing to show up.

For Hove, my prediction of a Conservative gain was correct, but little else was. I was right about Kemptown (though expected a bigger swing) and was right about the Greens winning Pavilion. I was also right about the Libdem vote going down in Pavilion.

But I am completely unable to predict what will happen in Westminster over the next few days.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Some dreams, dreamt somewhere between 1.30 and 10.30AM on Sunday 9th of May

As always tends to happen, activities from the preceding day seem to find their way into my dreams. As I have been following the election and subsequent power struggle for most of the day, it's no surprised that I actually dreamt about it. Specifically, I dreamt that there had been another election in which the Conservative number of seats went down from 267 to 265, and I was frustrated that out of the spectacularly small change the constituency in which my bed was was one of the seats had gone back to Labour. I was lying in my bed at the time, both in the dream and in real life. I didn't catch where the other seat was, by believe it was up in Coventry. Odd, 'cause in real life all three of the Coventry seats are already Labour.

Later I dreamt I was back at school. This is a ridiculously common dream theme, but this instance was generally stranger than most other school-based dreams. For a start, I was completly concious of the fact that I had already graduated from University. On looking around me I percieved the other students to be in Year 10 (or Lower Fifth as we called them) and that I had left this class seven years ago. My teacher in the dream was Mr. Brown, who had actually been my form teacher all the way back in Year 7 and Year 5. He complained that he had a headache, and was hoping that he might get ill for a week so he could spend some time off work.

I wasn't entirely sure what sort of work I was meant to be doing - all I did know is that I wasn't really progressing very quickly. I laughed at this, for it seemed fairly strange that I, already having a degree, should be struggling to focus on this comparitavely straightforwward sylabus material. I wasn't the only one not working though - two of the kids behind me were watching videos on their laptop. I too had my laptop on me. Eventually I realised the absurdity of the situation of a graduate sitting through GCSE material and got up, explaining myself to the class from my seat. No one seemed to notice though.

I left the classroom feeling pretty self-concious and resigned, fumbling my assorted notes and posessions and loose papers as I walked into town. The town in question was clearly not Brighton - I had the odd feeling that I was in Coventry or something. I passed one building which appeared to be full of slot machines and other arcade-like paraphanelia. I was wondering whether to walk through it or walk around it, as I percieved my destination to be on the other side of the said building.

As I walked towards it I was mocked a little by a bunch of students. They weren't mocking anything in particular, but seemed to me amused at how messy I was, particularly with regards to my notes flapping about all over the place.

In the end I got on a bus. On the inside it looked a bit like a London Underground carriage - seats on both sides facing eachother. I communicated with a girl sat on my left, who I seemed to have known in the past, as there was an immediate air of familiarity. I say 'communicated' as at first it wasn't talking - it was sort of a mixture of sign language and grunts. The conversation felt rehearsed as if it was from a film, and I always knew what she was going to say next. I wondered how she would be able to portray her next point without actually articulating it in words. To my amusement, she did say it in words, albiet in a very quiet voice as if she wasn't actually saying it to me but rather saying it to herself as it to provide a thread upon which she could wind her sign language, reminding herself as to the point she wished to convey. About 20 seconds later she started speaking normally, embraced me, and forgave me, though for what I do not know.

After waking up briefly and returning to sleep, I had yet another dream. In this one, I was somehow in Australia. I remember walking around and thinking how much it seemed like Essex. Everyone seemed just a little bit energetic and rough and enthusiastic. I was on guard. For some reason I believed myself to in the northern part of Australia and ended up finding myself at a beach. It reminded me a little of Alicante, and was very busy.

Later I found myself in some sort of kebab van. Every so often the vehicle would move backwards or forwads quite dramatically. I wasn't scared, but I wasn't sure what was really going on either. After finally buying something I was ready to leave the van. However, before I got the chance to make my exit the van started going backwards again. We reveresed into the bushes and I was hoping that the vegetation would hold us and stop us from going backwards any further. It didn't. We went through the bushes and our velocity increased dramatically. From this point on I saw the events from above. There was an unspoken acknowledgement that we were going to die. The van went onto a main road which had three lanes - two dedicated for traffic going either direction and a middle one which seemed to have no specific function. We figured our best bet would be to stay on this lane for a while and steer away from oncoming traffic, of which there was quite a lot. Eventually some impulse caused us to suddenly go very quickly in the other direction - we were now going forward and everything seemed fine. Unforunately we drove into the back of a bus. This wouldn't have been fatal had not the bus subsequently slowed down and allowed a car from behind us to ram into us. We were crushed.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election - My Final Prediction

Aside from the usual caveats (there are still a load of undecided voters, polls can be wrong... etc etc) it's time for me to make a final prediction.

Conservatives: 36%
Labour: 29%
Liberal Democrats: 26%
(Others: 9%)

How this will plan out into seats in The Commons?

Well, I reckon Tories will get 300+, but won't guess any further than that. The swing in the marginals really will make a signifiicant difference. I suspect the Liberal Democrat vote will get squeezed a little and that the Labour Party still has enough core supporters to avoid electoral wipeout. That said, as I project the swing from Labour to the Tories to be over 5% (and a similar Labour to Liberal swing) there will be a large number of seats changing hands, and I expect Labour to have somewhere around 230 seats. As for the Liberal Democrats, I speculate that the bulk of their gains (which may number a dozen or two dozen) will be off Labour, as they were in 2005. The Conservative/Liberal marginals are a very different ball game. The way I see it, the Liberal Democrats are fighting two seperate elections - one against Labour and one against the Conservatives. I expect the Yellow/Red battlefront to be a lot more bloody than the Yellow/Blue battlefront. That does not mean to say the Lib/Con marginals aren't bitterly fought - they are, very. However, I don't see a significant swing occuring one way or the other.

I won't make predictions for individual seats because I really don't have that much information on which to base my judgements. However, I will make a full prediction for Hove

n.b. I have assumed a 20% increase in turnout

CON: 21,000
LAB: 16,500
LIB: 11,000
GREEN: 4,500

Brighton Kemptown I suspect will fall almost as easily as Hove
Though it is tempting to be constantly wary of 'surprise result', I basically think that seats like Hove and Kemptown will just be sweeped by the Tory Brush no matter how much dust Labour piles there.

Brighton Pavilion is a little more interesting. A lot more interesting, really. And unlike my good pal Aidan who made a £5 bet (Even odds against a friend) that the Greens will not win Pavilion, I think the Greens will win. The way the trends are panning out it seems this is a genuine three way contest. The Labour vote will decline, but it really depends whether their ex-supporters go to Greens of the Conservatives. But I also expect, crucially, the Liberal Democrat contingent (they came fourth in 2005) to be inclined to vote tactically. However, this could mean anything - Vote Green to stop Labour from winning, Vote Green to stop the Tories from winning, vote Tory to stop Labour from winning... et cetera.

The count itself will be conducted at the Brighton Centre, so I have heard. All three seats will be counted and, presumably, announced there. The declarations are expected at around 3.30AM. Though by then we should have a good idea how the Tories are doing in the marginals (and effectively how decisive the Tory gains in Hove and Kemptown are) I don't think any result will give us much of a clue what's going on in Pavilion.

Exciting though it would be, I don't think I'll go to the count myself. It would just take up too much time and feel a little lonely once the result is announced. I'd rather be in the good company of David Dimbleby and co. It's a shame I'm no longer at university - that would be a great place to watch the election.

...or would it? I watched the first parts of the American presidential election (2008) at Warwick Student's Union, but everyone there was so loud and hysterical (particularly the Obama contingent, of whom 95% of the atendees were formed) that we couldn't really hear the punditry. I left before any results came out and watched at home instead right up until the 4AM victory.

It's 1AM now. I was thinking of getting up early and making an early visit to the polling station. However, I probably shouldn't offend my circadian rhythms any further then they will be already - I am planning to watch the entire election night coverage right up until dawn by which time 90% of the results should be in. If it really becomes a nailbiter (which well it might) I'll make the effort to stay up that much longer. Maybe I'll fall asleep with the TV on.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I expect to vote either immediately before lunch or immediately after. I expect it to be a pub lunch washed down with a bitter shandy or two. I do have some work to do in the afternoon, but that shouldn't take more than about 3 hours at most (I dare say) and so I will be left with plenty of time to walk around town to see what the voting activity is like and where the polling stations are. I'll try to pop by the Brighton Centre too, not that I really expect to see much. All I really want to know is just how shrouded in mystery the count is. It's not the sort of thing you would expect them to publicize, but it is nevertheless a logistically impressive, visable event, and for counts to be held behind lock doors would simply not be tolerated in this country.

But where is this country heading? Well, I'll guess I'll have to stick to my prediction I made a few paragraphs ago. CONSERVATIVE MARGINAL VICTORY - not necessarily a majority, but they ought to win over 300 seats and ought to poll a fairly decisive lead in the votes.

And one of those votes will be from me.

But I won't tell you how to vote. I am pretty dissappointed how basically the entire press has picked sides. I don't really care if it's my side either. A few days ago I was still buying the Independent as it was the only paper not telling me how to think. But even they have effectively called for a Libdem voting reform, and suggested anti-Conservative tactical voting. The only neutral paper I could find was the Friday Ad.

Thankfully the BBC maintain high standards of impartiality, as always.

But the press is frankly an embarrassment.

I still have faith in the British Electorate to make up their own minds about things.

And I'll let you make your own mind up to. Vote for whoever you like. Go on! Or don't vote at all! It's completly up to you! Nobody has to know who you voted for either - it's a secret ballot! I'm not going to tell you what to do...

Nor am I going to heavily imply it. In any case I'd rather convince one person than brainwash ten.

And the only person I really needed to convince was myself.