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We set off in the Gemini for home at 9pm. Twenty-four hours before, at the Mayoral Ball, we had witnessed the establishment paying homage to Meers. Now it was our moment of glory. Or was it?

Somehow, I was reluctant to face my own supporters. We had been through a lot together, and now I was wondering whether it was really worthwhile. All these people had volunteered to help keep me in Parliament, in a role that I was starting to have doubts about. They would expect me to arrive at the party as the conquering local hero; David having overcome Goliath. Instead, I felt like fleeing.

I had been forced into a tight mould, designed to fit me for the task of being all things to all men. But perhaps I was not the right material, perhaps I was not meant to be a politician.

In our absence, the kids were acting as hosts. The front door was open and the din of a large crowd was flowing out into the street as we approached.

The first person I met was Barry Fox, standing in the hall with two bottles of champagne under his arm. As I stepped into the light, he saw my mood and quickly put the bottles down.

"I think I've won", I said, "but only just."

"He threw everything at you," Barry said firmly, "and you have survived."

"Yes. But my majority has been cut right back to

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