Polling Day: barefoot and no biscuits.

East London  Suffragettes Festival
East London
Suffragette Festival

Dawn over the rooftops of Bethnal Green. Not quite sunset over the Florida Keys but the photo on Twitter was enough to inspire me to go on my Stepney roof for a picture early this Polling Day.

It’s a flat roof; I’m not stupid. Achilles tendons screaming in protest at tiptoeing over rain-soaked moss between the stone tiles, I hear the unmistakable sound of the front door slamming shut behind me. My mobile, with perfect comedy timing, beeps and dies.

Husband has left for work; daughter sleeps in an exam-, revision- and not-much- past-dawn-induced coma. Stage whispers through the letterbox and gentle knocking are not enough so after ten minutes I am shrieking and yelling and booting the door. Ow. Barefoot.

She’s up, with a pale face and unopened eyes, clutching a cat. No words.

I’m not telling her it’s Polling Day.

When she was little, I took her with me to vote.  In 2001, I was on the Home Office’s new press desk that dealt with electoral matters. I put together a briefing document for the media. On paper, digital natives; I know.

I talked often and excitedly to her about how we were able to get rid of bad people in charge, if we didn’t think they were doing good things, and could stop worse people trying to be tell us what to do. About the long, hard struggle of workers and women and how we must always, always, ALWAYS use our special, wonderful votes.

‘That’s right: they’re a sort of magic.’ She came along to the polling station expecting a form of Narnia and scowled at the tall City of London policeman on the door. ‘They didn’t even give us a biscuit!’

She wasn’t convinced and delivery of the suffragette movement for school history certainly hasn’t given her my passion for the mandate. It’s a shame she wasn’t studying here, in the heart of the East London Suffragette movement: look what’s happening to celebrate them soon.

Next elections, she’ll be old enough to vote. She will and I will and you should: today and all the polling days.

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