Well, what an extraordinary election result. I doubt we'll see anything as mental as this again in our lifetimes.
From 10pm when the exit poll first showed the Tories with 307 seats (later revised down to 305) I was absolutely riveted to the screen (although we did take a 20 minute break for curry).
We were scared shitless at about 11, when the Sunderland results came out, that the Tories had done FAR better than the 5.5% swing registered in the exit poll. We were seeing 11% swings in two of those three Sunderland seats (actually I think one was Washington but it was in the north-east conurbation area anyway) and that would have put the Tories home and dry with a big majority. So then we were thinking "shit, it's 1992 again." But then things got pretty weird, with MUCH smaller swings in some of the Tory targets. In fact, in Scotland the Tories were actually losing ground, and London was - in the main - also pretty poor for them.
The most unexpected story of the night was the total failure of the Lib Dems to break through and capitalise on Clegg's performance in the leader debates. There was the odd good result for them - a few good wins off Labour, a gain from the Tories in Eastbourne - but they lost several seats to the most dreadful Tories (including the excellent Evan Harris in Oxford West).
My happiest moment of the night was Caroline Lucas winning Brighton Pavilion for the Greens. I was pleased that James Abbot polled 3% in Witham, in a very tough seat.
The most ludicrous part of the footage? Andrew Neil interviewing various C-list celebrities at some kind of election party in central London. There was the odd good bit of analysis (e.g. Armando Ianucci) but most of this lot were complete space cadets.
In the 2005 election I went to bed at 4am because the results had got so dull but it was a 6am finish this year - at which point the overall vote prediction had only just been computed by the BBC - and only 2 hours' sleep before re-entering the fray at 8am for what seemed to be about 90 minutes' footage of Nick Clegg's car winding its way from St Pancras to Westminster. And then an increasingly motley crew of pundits chewing over the result every which way but loose.
Talk turns now to coalitions and the electoral arithmetic, but I want to take a little time-out before posting on that - maybe later tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Upfront, it seems to me that Tory minority govt is the most likely outcome of this impasse - but several other options are possible, which I'll go through in more detail tomorrow.
Love to all. It's been an emotional classic.