I’m excited about seeing David Hare’s play The Absence of War being brought to the Citizens Theatre next week by Headlong. Set in 1992 on the lead up to the general election, I remember that period of my life like it was yesterday.
|The Absence of War, 31 Mar - 4 Apr|
The election was called on March 11 and I turned 18 less than a month before the big day and it was, until the referendum last year, the most engaged with politics I’ve ever been. I was in sixth year at school in the midst of preparing for a big university interview, swotting for my French oral exam, and taking driving lessons during free periods off school. I was working in Littlewoods in Argyle Street at the weekends. Shakespears Sister’s ‘Stay’ (video below) dominated the charts and I was waiting for Channel 4’s first season of Drop the Dead Donkey to come out on video. Scotland was gearing up for the UEFA European Championship for the first time. But most importantly I was enjoying having my first ‘legal’ drink or two in a pub.
My interest in voting in my first ever election was spurred by the fact that I’d taken a crash Higher in Modern Studies. My teacher was new to the school and she was the first person I’d ever met to call herself a Ms. I’d only read about people with that title in American novels by Judy Blume and Paula Danziger. I thought she was so cool especially as she told us stories about rebelling against the poll tax and having her wages arrested. She encouraged me to take part in debates with other schools about the hot topics of the day including the state of the NHS and the economy. Déjà vu as we lead up to this year’s general election.
|Scotland's 1992 Squad who bowed out at the group stages|
|The cast of Drop the Dead Donkey|
As this was long before social media and multiple 24 hours news channels, the press played a huge role in influencing people on who to vote and I bought newspapers daily to keep up to speed with Paddy Ashdown, Neil Kinnock, John Major, and others. I was tuning in to Question Time on a Thursday night.
|Paddy Ashdown, Neil Kinnock, John Major and Ian Paisley's Spitting Image alter egos.|
I wrote to all the prospective candidates in my Southside constituency of Glasgow with specific questions and attended local hustings. I remember repeatedly writing and complaining to one prospective candidate about the tone and message of their literature. They reminded me of this a number of years later when I was a journalist at their local newspaper. I must have made an impression!
|The Sun's infamous 1992 election - day front page|
They day of the election came around quickly. People always talk about the weather on an election day but to be honest that’s the only thing I can’t remember about this historic day for me. What I can remember is the excitement I felt heading into St. Fillan’s Primary School with my parents and standing in a polling booth for the very first time and making the most informed voting decision of my life to date. I also remembered staying up late to watch my first election coverage on the TV.
By exercising my democratic right, I was one of 33,614,074 million people to cast a vote in the general election of 1992. I wonder what memories this play will remind the other 40 somethings as they watch this play.
The Absence of War is at the Citizens Theatre from 31 Mar – 4 Apr.
*** Views of this blog do not reflect the views of the Citizens Theatre***