Dashing up my staircase last autumn term, mid-essay crisis, a boy and girl cornered me half way to my room. I knew her casually from college; though her friend and I weren’t acquainted, the coloured pamphlets spilling from their hands all bore his face. Elections, I realised, were on the way again at Oxford’s student union, and this was a candidate for President.
Despite his twinkish smile and lime green jumper, I excused myself after a brief, polite exchange. Deadline-bound, of course, I needed to press on with in The Taming of the Shrew – but truthfully, a part of me experienced in doorstep combat with evangelists and salespeople had been cringing inwardly. The flyer I was given, I’m afraid to say, went largely undissected once I’d scanned it fleetingly, noting all the campaign cycle’s perennial issues (funding, library times, rent etc.) to be redeployed there. That I never properly digested it was nothing personal, yet I couldn’t bring myself just to dispose of it, and weeks after polling day, it festered unexamined on the staircase pinboard – while I’d long since been uninterested in union elections, on some level, I clearly still felt bad about this. Back in my days of Blairite liberalism, I tried to tell myself I cared, but the truth is that suspicion of elected bodies ranks atop the things I’ve learned in four years as a student.