All Hallows' Eve and I am trudging round Richmond with addressed letters to deliver. The clocks have gone back and the street are in the darkness. I struggle to read the addresses or to fathom what filter has led these letter to be in the order they are in. To make things more challenging the numbering is not consistent; some streets are consecutive others odds and evens, some have a number 13, others don't, some of these houses are divided into flats (although from the outside you would have thought they weren't big enough) and some doors and gates have no number. None of this is new to me , I have been doing it for over 45 years, but I have never shared the evening pavements with crowds of excited children in fancy dress who precede me to every door.
I fully understand that individually addresses letters have more impact than a mass leaflet but problems arise when you get the letters out of order. For the most part the doors are unlit, some have a guttering candle in a hollowed out pumpkin which sheds little light so an unexpected missing 13 or the presence of a flat in a house which would struggle to accommodate one man and a dog can throw you. Every so often a bright security light flashes on and allows the opportunity to sort the delivery out. Quite often in those illuminated porches there are large boxes of sweets so that the wannabe witches, warlocks and skeletons can help themselves without disturbing the residents. For the most part there is darkness and long experience has taught me to watch out for low walls purposely built for the canvassers to trip over but nothing had prepared me for a new hazard, which in my experience is unique to Richmond, namely the trailing lead of power cable charging a Tessler eclectic car overnight.
I completed the three deliveries given me at the HQ by Mortlake station (anyone thinking of going to help should be reassured that it is easy to find) and retire to a pub for a pint of Youngs Bitter. I shall go again next time I am in London. The place looks well organised as befits a campaign that has been in the offing for some time. The biggest difference from the by elections of my youth is that now the HQ is full of computers, but some things do not change the candidate, Sarah Olney, was doing a great job meeting and greeting the volunteers and spending time chatting to them and one of the first people I met was Colin Rosensteil .