Usually the most exciting thing that happens on my road is a sunset like the one above, or perhaps when there are two buses trying to go up and down the road at the same time. Oh and there was also that time when the bus driver got off the bus and banged on everyone's doors until he found the owner of the white van blocking the road. Real gripping stuff.
However, today I was pretty excited by a couple of conversations I had with people who knocked on my door.
Let me set the scene: I was dressed in a onesie, wrapped up in blankets and a hot water bottle, making my way through a box of tissues whilst slurping soup and grappling with income tax and trading profit calculations, when there was a knock at the door.
The lady was from the Liberal Democrats and wanted a signature against the closing down of the A&E department of my local hospital. She was in luck because I think I have already signed this petition at least twice, given that I have used that A&E department numerous times over the last 18 months. I would probably go as far as saying it probably saved my life. (Love the NHS). Anyway, as it is something I am interested in for selfish and wider reasons, I had a little conversation with her about it and the current plans and what the pros/cons are of the plans surrounding its proposed closure.
Then, I was asked about my political leanings which made me feel slightly uncomfortable for a moment because I think the Lib Dems annoyed a lot of people my age following the last general election. Having said that, they have been in charge of my constituency for the last twenty years, so that's nearly my entire life-time, and I actually quite like our local MP and the way my area has been run since I have been living here. But I took the opportunity anyway to ask the lady what the Lib Dems are doing for women and by way of promoting gender equality. More specifically, I asked about their stance on the No More Page 3 campaign and was pleased to hear that they are supporting it. As luck would have it, as the lady was telling me she would pop some more information for me in the post about women's rights, the local MP himself walked up to my house so I had the opportunity to put my questions to the man himself! I would like to remind you once again at this point that I was wearing a onesie...
So I explained that I wasn't going to shake his hand purely because I didn't want to pass on my cold lurgy and was actually very interested to hear what he had been doing to support gender equality. I was thrilled to hear that he has already signed the No More Page 3 petition and has been contacting newsagents to see if they are willing to work alongside him to restrict access to The Sun newspaper, as well as lads mags. I asked him whether he thought political pressure was enough or if it is something that could ever be legislated for. He responded with a message of hope that the social movement would be enough to change opinion and that it was a question of finding the right regulatory instruments to help. He also hinted that eventually convincing The Sun's readership that No More Page 3 is the way forward so that The Sun would have to reflect what its readers like. He asked if I was involved in the campaign and I told him about how I had been following it on Twitter and had been inspired by the talk I attended run by UK Feminista at Glastonbury Festival this year, which included Lucy Anne Holmes (founder of the NMP3 campaign) as part of the panel. He agreed with me that giving women a sense of empowerment was really important. It gave me a real buzz to hear that my local MP was in tune with issues that I am passionate about and I'm really pleased I had the opportunity to chat to him about what he thinks can be done to further the campaign's success.
I think this basically highlighted to me the importance of interaction to everyday politics. Of course politics is about engagement, but how engaged are people of our age? I'm not convinced that all of my peers exercise their right to vote. If MPs made a conscious effort to get around to every single door, school and university, to have a proper chat with people about what they really care about, it would do a lot for their reputation as well as boost turnout rates, I'm sure. Oh and it turns out he was brave enough to challenge his immune system with a handshake from me in the end. Lovely stuff.