The Hangover

Friday was a tough day. I had not slept much after a night of excitement and thrill. Once noon had passed, I eventually made it out of bed to meet up with friends in a pub and I stunned them by ordering a large cappuccino rather than a pint when I arrived. The diagnosis was quick and simple: Rebecca is hungover!

Now, that is surprising for two reasons. Firstly, I do not get hungover. I simply do not. That’s a fact which annoys and amazes my friends to equal degrees. The second reason, however, is even more curious: I did not have a drop of alcohol on Thursday night. So, what happened? Those of you who read my first blog post may have guessed it: I was emerged in following the general election results in the UK.

At ten sharp I claimed the telly for me (and apparently, my facial expression did not even allow for any opposition to that demand as my family immediately obliged). The exit poll results came in and I was delighted – Theresa May’s spiteful election campaign had failed.  At the same time, I was sceptical, as only one forecast leading up to the election predicted a hung parliament while most polls suggested a solid or even large majority for the Conservatives.

In 2015, the exit polls predicted a hung parliament. I went to bed and woke up to a Tory victory. In June 2016, the EU referendum polls seemed to close to call but I was confident that Remain would win. There were no exit polls, so I went to bed and woke up in Brexit land. Then came the US presidential elections in November 2016, again there was confidence that the worst case would not happen (even though one of my professors was not ruling it out completely…). I went to bed and woke up in a world where Donald Trump is president of the USA. Clearly, going to bed this time was not an option because I did not want to wake up in May’s Hard Brexit Britain! Yes, I am hoping to be an academic but this time superstition got me.

I decided to stay up and my partner noticed my great excitement. I was all smiles. My deep emotional engagement with the elections had already shown in the night before the elections – apparently, I was ranting about the election campaign in my sleep. On election day, my social media feed was filled with folks who took selfies in front of polling stations (possibly to encourage others to vote but much more likely to claim a free pint at the BrewDog later…). I do not have a vote in national elections and very soon probably not in any elections in the UK, anyway, so I could only watch in envy (primarily for the fact that they could vote but also because they got free pints and I did not…). Life is hard sometimes.

My partner asked me how on earth one could get this excited about a political process to which I responded that I feel the same about his excitement for certain sports events. He conceded, shook hands with me, and went to bed. There I was, by now all by myself in front of the TV in a sleepy home. I had some admiration for the presenters’ ability to fill the void between 10pm (exit poll announced) and 2am (results started coming in), but to be honest the only time I paid proper attention was when Professor John Curtice was on screen.

Curtice is Britain’s leading psephologists (i.e. he explains politics and particularly elections by using numbers) and he heads the team who conducts the exit polls. You will notice in due course that he is one of my favourite academics. I simply admire his way of presenting and his ability to explain complex issues in an accessible manner and very often with a winking eye, too. Despite commenting on UK elections since 1979, he only recently (unwillingly) has become a media phenomenon beyond his appearances on the BBC, with sites like BuZZFeed writing about him and twitter accounts being dedicated to him. Lucky for me, he is based in Glasgow so I regularly get a chance attend his lectures.

 

During his first appearance of the night, Curtice looked tense. By the time enough election results had come in to adjust the exit polls to a forecast, Curtice looked more at ease. His prediction of a hung parliament seemed to hold. By 4.30ish am he looked outright happy as his predictions matched the outcomes almost perfectly.

I started struggling and was close to dosing off. I had seen Alex Salmond, Nick Clegg, and Angus Robertson lose their seats and I had seen a very shaken but nevertheless robotic as usual Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand seemed to have the night of a lifetime. Meanwhile, Amber Rudd was pacing at the count of her constituency with a re-count on the way. I tried to stay up to see her result coming in but – you guessed it – I went to bed and woke up to Amber Rudd holding her seat.

What I also woke up to was said hangover. I was not just tired, I was physically shattered. When I arrived at the pub, one friend suggested a coffee for the right hand and a pint for the left to cure it. I kindly declined. We theorised that excitement and subsequent outpouring of all sorts of hormones may have a similar effect as alcohol on the brain so that it would not be surprising to be ‘hungover’ after. I have not verified that theory, but I will ask my friend who is obsessed with brains to find out.

In any case, I got drunk from politics and I liked it!

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