Philobiblon: Democracy in action

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Democracy in action

A first for me, I spent an interesting, if very wet, afternoon canvassing for the Greens for the Camden Council election, coming up in May. I previously only had a very vague idea what canvassing meant, but, for these purposes anyway, it meant collecting names of people who would or might vote Green, for further targetting.

So it meant ringing lots of door-bells to no reaction, and occasionally a reaction, and pleasantly often a positive one. (And I didn't get yelled at once, which surprised me a little.) Since these were mostly Victorian four-storey terraces converted to flats, it also meant lots of shouted conversations up to third-floor windows - not entirely easy when the rain is falling your eyes.

And it was eye-opening just how many ranges of lives were being lived in one overtly middle-class street, from old people in extremely dilapidated conditions, one of whom would only conduct a shouted conversation through the door (I suppose a good effect of "watch out for sneak thieves" campaigns), to a South Asian family in which a ten-year-old was the only one who spoke English.

The doors were telling. From new, cheap double glazing, to battered original, to neatly and expensively restored etched glass (one of the few terraces that was still one house) - you could write a thesis on what was likely to be found behind each.


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