* Honest, I do take a serious interest in politics and what the parties say. But this General Election tragi-comedy campaign tests the patience of a saint.

When I listen to the petty squabbling, character assassinations and spokesmen (and women) declaring some opponents are liars, I wonder how can we possibly hope to elect 650 ‘honourable members’ on May 7.

At times the pathetic arguing is more akin to the lower fourth in a school under Ofsted measures.

For the past six months of the final year of this Parliament there has been unremitting canvassing – surely not what the fixed term law intended.

I genuinely believe it is our duty to vote, but with less than a fortnight to go, I’ll be darned if I can decide who deserves my modest cross.

* Hoping to find something different to talk about on Tuesday, I tried a mini survey: Whose birthday was it today, I asked 25 people whom I met around the city centre?

It was the Queen’s 89th. Only six knew – and one of those remembered because it was her birthday, albeit a few years younger. Minds were on May. There seemed no other option but to head to the peace of the Thames where it flows past the Victoria Arms at Old Marston. But the idyll was not to last.

I had no sooner sat – with a cooling drink – before a flotilla of 11 ducks paddled up, clearly looking for lunch. They were out of luck and showed their disapproval with a fanfare of quacks.

This was heard by a squadron of Canada geese resting their wings in a field across the river. They scrambled and with spine-chilling cries, scattered the ducks – just for the hell of it. They merely took possession of the centre of the river.

Minutes later two stately swans glided silently towards the group. They made no attempt to detour or to confront the geese, who, to a feather, took flight. The swans sailed on oblivious to everyone.

It was politics again. The ducks approached only because they wanted a hand-out. The geese were just noisy bullies, while the swans expected everyone to believe they had the right to rule the river – and got away with it.

I’ll leave it to our readers to decide which political parties the groups reminded them of?

* A fleeting knowledge of Russian might be useful for Oxford theatregoers.

Next week at the Oxford Playhouse we have a magnificent modern production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, spoken in Russian, while Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, updated to the Second World War,graces the New Theatre stage.

Whatever would the Bard and Mozart think?