Recent by-election news in England has been bringing back some weird memories for me, for back in the day, I once stood in a by-election....while masquerading as a rabbit.
Some of you may remember cable TV station, L!ve TV, and the station mascot, News Bunny. For my sins, I was once that rabbit, decked out in a full furry outfit and asked to stand as a candidate in a parliamentary by-election and win some much-needed publicity for the ailing channel.
One slight problem, one of the station bosses explained to me, was that they wanted News Bunny to register his candidacy as 'News Bunny' rather than my real name. Would I be willing to change my name by deed poll? My reaction was to burst out laughing.
Two weeks later, having legally changed my name to News Bunny, the news team and I headed up to Tamworth in Staffordshire for the election. As the leader of The Official Bunny Party, it was my aim to become the first rabbit to make it into parliament. I would be campaigning under a manifesto for reducing carrot mountains and introducing new transport schemes to cut the number of road kills: sensible policies for a rabbit.
Armed with a hastily cobbled together placard proclaiming, 'CARS ARE KILLING US, SAVE THE BUNNY!' I planted myself in the middle of the road and proceeded to stop traffic from passing through town. Cars began piling up and beeping their horns. A crowd of drunken lads spilled out of the nearby pub and began chanting their support. Photos were snapped for the local newspaper, and our camera crew captured the scenes as the police arrived. After ignoring their orders not to continue my protest, I was shoved into the back of a police car and driven down to the local station, still dressed in my furry outfit.
On arrival, I took off my rabbit head to be charged and fill in various forms.
"What's your name, son?"
"News Bunny," I replied.
"Don't take the piss my boy; the joke's over now."
Luckily I was able to show the duty officer my credit card which had now been registered with my new identity. He looked at it, then back to me, and took a deep breath.
"News Bunny it is then. Sign here."
Before long, a buzz was going round the police station with word of News Bunny's arrival. Various coppers started quizzing me on my campaign manifesto and suggested that getting arrested hadn't been such a good idea for a prospective parliamentary candidate.
"Do you have a criminal record?"
"You will have now, son. Follow me."
In next to no time I was ushered into a holding cell, carrying my furry head but otherwise still dressed up as a rabbit. After a couple of hours spent reading wall graffiti, the door opened and a policeman walked in with a plate of carrot cake. Nice touch. It seemed I could count on the local coppers for their vote, but the only trouble was that the vote count was taking place later that evening. As I munched down my gratefully received nosh I was starting to worry that candidate Bunny would still be behind bars when his moment of election glory arrived. Oops. This was our big moment and I had gone and ruined everything.
Behind the scenes, company lawyers were battling to secure my release while local newspapers prepared their headlines.
Meanwhile, back in the offices at L!VE TV, station boss Kelvin McKenzie had stopped off at the transmission gallery to watch a feed of the footage of my arrest. I was later told that he proclaimed it as, "the best fucking piece of television I've ever seen in my life!"
Ordering all hands on deck to get News Bunny released, Kelvin wanted his pet mascot freed for election night. Sure enough, an hour later the door to my cell opened once more and I was free to depart. I had been charged with obstructing a public highway and released on bail, due to appear at the local magistrate's court in a month's time.
I would worry about that later. For now, I had to make my way to the town hall and take to the stage with the other parliamentary candidates to hear the election results.
Out of 13 candidates, News Bunny finished a very respectable ninth, racking up an impressive 89 votes.
As I congratulated the winning candidate, I could only think of how very different life could have been if I hadn't got arrested. Those wasted five hours spent in a police cell could have been time spent pressing the flesh and getting me the extra 27,000 votes that could have taken News Bunny to victory. It had been a close run thing, but for the time being, this 24-carrot guy would have to return to his usual day job.
Happy days indeed.
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