It occurs to me in the cab that drinking half a bottle of red wine before I go to the Liberal HQ election night party is probably not a good idea. It is likely to be a very long night, and I should have started it at least sober. Too late now.
8pm. Arrive at the hotel and head into the ballroom, which is full of media and Libs. Two large screens are showing Sky.
I run into an old flame, who I discover has become a Liberal politician. Immediately, I head to the bar. My teenage daughter rings to say that she is at a friend’s place and could I come and pick her up? No, I say, the future of the nation is at stake.
Upstairs in the media room I discover a whole lot of very serious people working on laptops, endlessly typing “too close to call”. The upside is that the ABC is on.
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The ballroom is like a giant gold fish bowl, where we all do giant figures of eight, periodically bumping into each other. It appears my amazing ability to attract 70-year-old Middle Eastern property developers still operates. One tells me that even if Abbott doesn’t win tonight, he really has won because he’s clawed back so many seats from Labor. I start to tell him about Billy Snedden saying that he hadn’t lost but had only come second, but think better of it.
Several of my friends text me to ask, what is the feeling in the room? Confused hysteria, I reply, compounded by alcohol. Too close to call. One says she has seen me on tv, and when did I last comb my hair?
10pm. Trays of drinks are circulating freely, but almost no food, and the Young Libs are showing the worse for wear. Someone needs to take them to Newtown and get them a souvlaki. By now they are randomly chanting “Tony, Tony, Tony” at high volume; must be all those GPS war-crys.
Several of the girls are dressed for a cocktail party, complete with sky-high stilettos. They clearly did not anticipate a hung parliament — they’ll be upright for hours. Most are ogling the local talent — this must be the election-night equivalent of a dry cleaners, where you pick up a suit. As for the others, I’m not sure which shop sells skin-tight racewear for the over-50s, but it must now be empty.
My mother rings to tell me that Tony Windsor, her beloved MP, has the balance of power. Finally, her life-long dream has come true and she is now running the country.
I see several people I was at Sydney Uni law school with. Great, more people to hide from.
My daughter texts to say, could I please come and pick her up? You’ll have to wait, I say, democracy is in the balance.
I spot Clive Palmer in the crowd and have a spirited discussion with a friend as to whether he has a toupee or dyes his hair. I think it is hair dye, a topic on which I am expert. Funnily enough, in this company, he doesn’t look quite so large.
Evidently Daily Telegraph journalist Malcolm Farr has gatecrashed the VIP party by tailgating Miranda Devine. Inside, he found a lot of Liberal heavyweights and Piers Ackerman.
But is there any food?
10.30pm. Huge excitement, John Howard is here! He gives a good doorstop, looking very chuffed. The Libs have won his seat back, and his favoured son is just four heartbeats away from the throne. There is a spring in his step.
I’m up the front with the still photographers, waiting for Tony Abbott. They are so bored they are photographing each other — soon, they’ll be photographing each other naked.
10.45pm. Massive excitement, a limo is here! I run outside but its only Abo’s political godmother, Bronwyn Bishop. She is absolutely tiny, like a bee-hived Thumbelina.
11pm-ish. Julia speaks. Predictably she is booed by the Young Libs, one of whom keeps shouting, “get back on your bike!” He has clearly forgotten which leader dons the lycra.
Very very late. Abo arrives! He comes in with his wife and three daughters, all of whom are dressed in black. Is this a comment on the election result, or are they showing respect for the fallen soldiers? From where I’m standing, right in front of the stage, Tony looks like the shortest member of the family.
Daughter texts to say she would really like to come home. I ignore it.
Tony gives a good speech, in which he thanks his “darling angel wife Margie,” which brings a tear to her eye. He also thanks his daughters, who he says have been handing out how to votes in Lindsay.
He leaves and now, so can I. On the way home, I collect my daughter, who asks, “what happened?”
Voters seem to dislike the major parties in equal proportions, I say, my feet are killing me and your grandmother is running the country.
“Mum,” she says, “have you been drinking?”