The night of my thirtieth birthday was spent sitting in the kitchen with a bottle of cheap white wine watching the first uncontestable election victory of George W. Bush. He didn't steal it this time, they chose him. I couldn't face that again. So last night I stayed up long enough to see Obama gain - what was it, 150 seats? against McCain's 90-odd - then McCain suddenly gained another 20 and I remembered Kerry and knew exactly where this was going.
This morning was very grey, wasn't it. I turned on the telly and... well McCain's victory was still a kick in the guts even though I'd called it. Obama's wry but wounded speech in Chicago, the tears in the crowd, the quiet, broken rage, everything as I'd imagined, the predictability of the whole scene was almost a comfort. And the tension had been unbearable so at least we'd been put out of our misery, that too was sort of a comfort... And then McCain took the mike in Pheonix to give his victory speech, and I thought it odd that he wasn't smiling.
I mean it was very odd. Especially given the ecstatic noise the crowd was making. There was no pointing at the crowd either, I can understand that he wanted to come across as, well sobre, but why wasn't he smiling? He just stood there flanked by single-star-spangled banners, his lips pressed, palms out, and it looked like the crowd would never shut up. But when they let him speak I have to admit he was more gracious than I'd ever seen him: "Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening. A little while ago, I had the honor of a call from Senator Barack Obama - " at which point the crowd struck up again, like a wind, almost like they'd lost. There were real jeers. The cameras picked out face after face and none would have looked out of place in a meeting at the warehouse in a straight-to-video Steven Seagal film. McCain put his hands out once again and signaled weakly for silence. Finally he got it, and he held it. For what seemed like a minute. And then, it was extraordinary. It was sort of beautiful... "Guys. You scare me."
Silence from the crowd. And then: "My fellow prisoners... Goodbye." And he opened a door in the air behind him, turned to raise a small old hand above his head for the first time in twenty years, waved farewell, and walked through it smiling.
Ah man, the look on their faces! And then when Sarah Palin stood up to the mike and they all started cheering again but just as she's about to speak the ground suddenly LURCHES TILTS ALARMS SOUND ALL THEIR FACES PRESS UP AGAINST THE GLASS AND THEY REALIZE THEY WEREN'T ON THE PLANET EARTH AT ALL BUT ACTUALLY STUCK IN A TWO-DIMENSIONAL PRISON SPINNING THROUGH SPACE!!!
Dude. No I have to say I didn't see that bit coming. That was cool.