1. The marked discrepancy – at least in the early stages – between the running totals of declared results on the BBC1 and ITV coverage (a.k.a. Dimbleby vs Dimbleby). Where BBC1 were showing just 4 results, ITV had 11. My first thought was that there had been some sort of catastrophic network crash at the BBC. Strike one to ITV! Or at least until ITV ‘fessed up to screening the results in advance of the official returning officers’ declarations, in a rather futile bid to be “first with all the results”. But what’s the use of bare results, when you can’t analyse the percentages and swings to buggery and beyond? Strike one to Good Old Auntie Beeb! My restless knob-twiddling dropped off sharply from that point onwards.
2. Recognising one of the Lib Dem candidates in Birmingham from a Pride event in the late 1990s, when Chig had introduced us. What, you thought I’d let an occasion of this magnitude pass by without at least one pathetic name-drop?
3. Forgetting that it was Chig’s birthday – as well as Tony Blair’s, for that matter. Full marks to Blair for never once bleating “But it’s my BIRTHDAY!” when things were looking rough. I could never have managed such self-restraint.
4. A grim-faced Blair looking as uncomfortable and upset as I’ve ever seen him, forced to stand at the back and listen while the defeated anti-war candidate Reg Keys made his excellent speech at Sedgefield, landing punch after humiliating punch. In fact, Blair looked dangerously close to crying at one point: blinking furiously and swallowing hard. No triumphalism here, thank God.
5. Stephen Twigg and his tellingly over-expressive facial expressions Part Two, as history came full circle and the Portillo-usurper became usurped himself. A little touch of Schadenfreude in the night.
6. The huge great creamy dollop of Schadenfreude which followed a couple of hours later, when that insufferable orange-skinned oaf Robert Kilroy-Silk received his long-overdue come-uppance at the hands of the good people of Erewash, polling a miserable 3,000 votes and coming fourth.
7. The black comedy that ensued when that other, rather more successful, insufferable orange-skinned oaf George Galloway steamed to a graceless victory in Bethnal and Bow – and instead of thanking the returning officer, promptly accused him of corruption. How I wish I had stayed up a little longer for Galloway’s encounter with Paxman, which would have been the icing on the black comedy cake.
8. The extraordinarily low profile kept by Michael Howard, who didn’t show his face until around 4 a.m. (My tip for the leadership succession: David Cameron. You read it here first.) That Sandra Howard really is radiantly beautiful, isn’t she? I think she might have to be a candidate for the “mature” section in my Kissing Forest.
9. And while we’re on the subject of unfortunate crushes: Alastair (sigh) Campbell. Again. You just SO would. (All that barely repressed passion, just bursting to come out. Come on, it can’t just be me, surely?)
10. Future media star in the making: Adam Afriyie, the first ever black Conservative MP, who displayed a delightfully nonchalant sang froid in the face of his first ever encounter with Paxman, even making his interviewer wait while he finished his glass of water. Now, that’s style.
11. Being able to pause Sky Plus whenever I went to the loo, kettle or fridge, then fast-forwarding through all the silly Peter Snow bits to catch up again. (Who did those animated graphics of the three party leaders walking up Downing Street, anyway? Were they on DRUGS?)
12. The delight of being proved wrong, as my cautious prediction of a Labour majority of 109 fell way above the eventual total of 66. If this doesn’t curtail some of Blair’s worst presidential excesses, then we’ll just have to get rid of him sooner rather than later.