9:30 On the bus to my first polling place, and it's a little startling to look at my slack-jawed, vacant eyed fellow passengers and realise all these people vote.
10:00 St John's Church, Cooks Hill Cooks Hill is a fairly trendy and expensive inner Newcastle suburb, full of gorgeous terrace houses and people riding vintage frame bikes, so I was confident this would be a pretty good booth for us. As I arrive, there are Jaimie Abbott posters everywhere. Even allowing for the overkill of the Liberal candidate's campaign, this is startling - A-frames placed every two metres along 100 metres of foothpath, banners covering the entire fence, perhaps twenty blue shirted campaign workers. There are only two or three red-shirted Labor volunteers and a single Green when I arrive. I grab my pile of leaflets and set up camp under a large tree. Compared to the bitter winds outside Marrickville town hall in 2010, this mild day is a pretty good one to be campaigning. I do suffer from social anxiety/phobia/whatever you want to call it, but I find handing out how to votes quite easy. I just get into a little groove. It's a fairly good response. A few people seek me out (including two young men I overhear referring to J Abbott as a "lying bitch"), some refuse any how to votes. I'm always amazed by how many people take how to votes from everybody - they can't all be undecided. Why? Do they think they need to collect the whole set or something? No hecklers, denying me the fun of responding.
11:15 Pampered princess - hair, nails, make up and fake tan immaculate, expensive shoes and frock - pulls up outside polling booth in Audi, parks in disabled spot without permit, marches in to vote with her nose in the air, stopping only to collect a Liberal how to vote. I've been chatting with the Socialist Alliance volunteer; she suggests we confront the woman. I say I'm too chicken shit, but I've got her back if she does so.
When the princess returns to her car, the Socialist Alliance volunteer says "don't you realise you parked in a disabled spot?" Her: "So? What are you a parking inspector?" and drove off. No, not a parking inspector but I have sent this to council. I've obscured the number plate for this post because unlike her, I'm not a thoughtless cow.
Meanwhile a Liberal worker is packing up some of the Jaimie Abbott A-frames, saying "there are just too many". It's about three months late for that, I'd say.
13:00 And done, for now. Little pottering and revivifying lunch on Darby Street.
15:30 New Lambton Primary School Did I say it was a mild day? It's 30 degrees, it's the first week of spring, and we're about to elect a Prime Minister who thinks climate change is crap. So that's reassuring. Jaimie Abbott is here - has been all day, apparently - along with Labor's Sharon Claydon. (the Greens' Michael Osborne has been doing the rounds of the booths for the day, and I miss him). New Lambton is also a fairly well heeled sort of place, older and more conservative, so I don't expect us to do as well here as we might have in Cooks Hill. Still no hecklers. It's kind of fascinating to see Jaimie Abbott interact with public - she's the punter's new best friend, but gives everyone else the evil eye and doesn't talk to anyone outside her team. Sharon Claydon warm, friendly, expresses sympathy for my bad back. Abbott tells a voter in a Subway staff shirt "I'm Subway's biggest customer!" and I nearly break my finger biting it in the effort not to laugh. The other Greens volunteer (Mike? I'm lousy with names) stands a few feet away from Ms Abbott; she barrels over and butts in whenever he tries to talk to someone.
17:00 Day drags on. Back really hurting by now. Tim Owen, the Liberal member for the state seat of Newcastle, rolls up to spruik for Abbott; telling a punter who recognises Abbott from her posters "She looks better in the flesh, doesn't she?" Err... I continue to be amazed at some of the punters who pick out Liberal cards; a guy with dreadlocks, a woman with pink and yellow hair, several hipster-looking Portlandia types with organic hemp shopping bags. The Christian Democrats candidate is here, and deliberately avoided by many. In possibly the most bizarre thing I've ever seen working an election booth, a young girl who has been handing out for Get Up all day declares she has switched sides, dons a Jaimie Abbott shirt and cap, and starts handing out for the Liberals. I have NFI what went on there.
18:00 And we're done. Sharon Claydon says goodbye to all the campaign workers, Labor or not, individually. Jaimie Abbott leaves without saying goodbye at all. You know the saying that someone who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person? Well, someone who is nice to potential voters but rude to campaign workers isn't really a nice person either. Obviously I want Michael Osborne to win for Newcastle, that's why I've been doing this all day, but I'm realistic about the chances of a Green being elected in Newcastle. I always did, but now I really, really want Sharon Claydon to beat Jaimie Abbott. Anyway, help pack up the booth and home at last to a cool shower and a glass of very cold white wine.
20:00 ABC election coverage already calling it for the Coalition. This is a disaster, but not quite as bad as feared; the predicted wipe out in Western Sydney and Queensland has failed to materialise. Tony Abbott will still be Prime Minister, though. Pouring myself another pint glass of wine, I note with delight that Ms Claydon has indeed won and will be the new Member for Newcastle (and dear god I would love to be a fly on the wall for Ms Abbott's tantrum when she realises all that effort has been in vain - she needed a 12% swing and got less than 3%).
22:00 Tony Abbott is making his victory speech. I'm drunk. The sun will still rise tomorrow.
Sunday, 8:00 The sun has not risen on the east coast of NSW today...
Edit: Not only did she not win the seat, after spending all day at the New Lambton public school polling place, Jaimie Abbott failed to win the booth. Very sad. Tragical.