Currying electoral favour
"I know he's a good general, but is he lucky?" said Napoleon Bonaparte when asked to confirm the appointment of a new commander.
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Even Napoleon kept a wary eye on Lady Luck believing it was only a matter of time before she fluttered her eyelashes at a rival.
I'm starting to suspect the Little Corporal may have been on to something. In the past I've never been much of a believer in luck. Nothing more than silly superstitition, I thought.
I've spent my life daring fate to do its worst - I deliberately walk under ladders, I hiss at black cats and I love chips too much to miss my target with the salt.
But... But... BUT when it comes to elections something strange happens to that part of the universe I inhabit.
Once I enter a vote-counting centre I feel the chill embrace of Lady Luck, and I know that she's going to create chaos around me.
Other reporters attend elections and watch votes being counted and candidates winning or losing.
But ME...? No, I find myself at the centre of an electoral Bermuda Triangle where unseen forces go to work.
I've been there while boxes of ballots were left out in the rain, after which hairdryers were used on each vote.
I've been there when thousands of carefully counted votes were carefully stacked on tables only for those tables to collapse, scattering the will of the people like so much electoral confetti.
I've been there when results were loaded into a computer laptop only for the laptop's software to 'lock' itself - and the man with the password had gone missing.
And the recent election to the new Derry/Strabane 'super-council' took the bizarre to a new level.
Vote-counting was held under the tightest security. No public parking near the building. All candidates, staff and media body-searched. And nothing allowed inside unless it was passed through airport-style x-ray scanners - even the food for the cafeteria.
Tight security, though, is no match for the ballot box poltergeists.
A large consignment of Chicken Curry was being squeezed through the x-ray machine when the container burst. The curry sauce leaked. The scanner hummed and then fell silent.
Twenty-first century security brought to its knees by Chicken Curry.
I felt some degree of responsibility. If only I had been elsewhere my election jinx would not have blighted this hi-tech x-ray device... and Chicken Curry would still have been the freshest thing on the 2014 electoral menu.