This afternoon I spent a few hours canvassing in the Thorpe St Andrew area of Norwich, along with nine or ten others, including for a time, the Conservative candidate Chloe Smith. It is one of the better areas for the Conservatives in the constituency, it has to be said, but I was pleasantly encouraged by the reception we were getting. There were a reasonable number of switchers. One of my favourite moments was meeting a real Norfolk good old boy who told me he was voting BNP. Why on earth would you do that, I asked? They're for Britain, aren't they? he replied. I then rabbited on about how they are nothing of the sort until I realised he was pulling my leg. He then said: "No, I am voting for the other BNP Party, you know, what are they called, British Independence Party or something?" "You mean UKIP," I said helpfully. He said he had been a Labour voter previously, but not votes UKIP. Except for local elections, when he votes Tory "because they look after us around here."

My other moment of the afternoon came when I knocked on a door and a 35 year old woman answered. Here's how the conversation went...

Me: Hello, I'm calling on behalf of Chloe Smith, your Conservative candidate in the by election.
Woman: Oh yes...
Me: I just wondered who you might be supporting in the election.
Woman: Oh my husband makes those decisions for me.
Me: Er, right. So you are not exactly a modern woman then!
Woman: No, I like to be a bit old fashioned. He tells me who to vote for.

And that's in the year 2009. It always shocks me to hear this, especially from a woman in her mid thirties. My mother tells me that on polling day in 1950 her father locked my grandmother in the toilet all day because she said she was not going to vote for the candidate he had instructed her to vote for. Understandable in a way, since she had announced she was voting Liberal... I jest.

I guess we'll know we have true equality when I canvass a man and he tells me it's his wife who decides who they vote for...

In the battle of the posters, I'd say that the Tories are a little ahead of the LibDems but not far. We saw a single Labour poster (terrible design). Chloe and Angela Browning said it was the first one they had seen during the whole campaign. Labour really do seem to be doing absolutely sweet FA in this campaign - apart from picking a candidate with a secret Tory past. Have they given up?

Tomorrow I'll be out in Taverham and Drayton stirring up apathy with Gillian Shephard and Keith Simpson.