14-year-old Chelsea Donovan is physically shaking in nervous anticipation. Around her neck she wears a scarf with the name of her hero emblazoned on it and in her hand she holds an autograph book and her phone in the hope that today will be the day that she’ll finally get that selfie she’s always dreamed of.
Around her stand 250 similarly amped up young girls and boys visibly bubbling with the excitement that’s about to unfold in front of them. The air is electric with a sense that something era defining is about to happen. Suddenly, a rusty Ford Transit van splutters to a halt and the rows of police that are holding the crowd back in a frenzy of excitement prepare themselves for the explosion of emotion that’s about to hit. Like a conqueror returning victorious from battle, out steps Labour Party hopeful Chris Wingleton. The crowd erupts, girls everywhere start screaming and simultaneously fainting, a policeman’s helmet gets knocked off and a passing Labrador pauses to relive itself in the gutter. Such is the thrilling rush of local council politics.
15 minutes later a dishevelled Deshanté Hobnob, age 16, is clearly overcome by the vapours as she explains the thrill of seeing her idol up close: “It’s like the Beatles, Bros, Justin Timberlake and a Wet Wet Wet tribute band all rolled into one – he’s just so dreamy and he’s policy on local housing sends shivers down my spine”.
Across Wivenhoe, similar scenes of unbridled ecstasy are breaking out as councillors Philip Boot, Sanchia Mash, Paul Shunt and Lidl Clarke meet crowds of screaming girls, fawning boys, fainting menfolk and women that should know better throwing themselves at the mercy of these Godlike figures in the hope of being touched by their greatness. The town has ground to a halt and these colossuses of British politics are out in force to meet their adoring public.
“Just getting up close to your idol like this is like being first in queue for a launch of a new iPhone, or at the newsagent just as the new issue of Top Gear magazine comes out,” explains 46-year-old Gareth Shirtsleeves, “Take your best orgasm, multiply the feeling by twenty and you’re still miles off. I can’t wait for Thursday; it’s going to be like all my birthdays have come at once”.
BBC1’s rolling coverage of the Wivenhoe election starts tomorrow at 16:00, hosted by University Paxman, Kenneth Kendall and George Alagiah. ITV will be screening a special celebrity edition of The Chase, featuring stars of classic Wivenhoe council elections of yesteryear and Channel Four will be airing a special naked councillors dating show. Channel Five, meanwhile, will be showing reruns of Neighbours and a fascinating documentary on when Nazis go bad. Election fever is finally here baby!