Gordon Brown emerged from Number 10 today to begin the fight of his political life.
The Prime Minister walked slowly to a lectern which had been placed in the middle of Downing Street.
On the other side of the road, camera crews, photographers and journalists vied for the best vantage point.
The media massed on specially built scaffolds and balanced atop ladders.
Throughout the day the numbers had swelled in expectation of an announcement.
So far there was little to report but uncertainty.
As Mr Brown began there were heckles from the end of the street where members of the public were gathered behind the gates.
"Leave now," came one angry shout.
But it was soon clear Mr Brown had no intention of leaving just yet.
He made a direct overture to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, stressing the "common ground" between Labour and the Lib Dems on voting reform and the economy.
It had been a long wait for the media, some arriving in Downing Street before sunrise at 5.15am.
Early in the morning a police officer walked by, shrugged his shoulders and asked: "What's going to happen?"
It was the question everybody was asking.
Mr Brown had arrived at 7am. He nodded briefly to the journalists as he disembarked from his grey Jaguar, ignoring one reporter who shouted: "Are you going to resign Mr Brown?"
At 8.30am a group of photographers spotted a City of Westminster road sweeper.
With little else to do, they scrambled for a symbolic picture as he swept the curb in front of Number 10.
Some two hours later three members of the Downing Street press office burst from the front door and urgently handed out a press notice.
In the statement Mr Brown said it was his duty to ensure a "strong, stable and principled government".
But the media waited for the man to appear in person.
They struggled to keep warm in the Downing Street microclimate, which is always a few degrees colder than elsewhere.
There were numerous rounds of tea and coffee, sandwiches and pizza.
Mr Brown himself was said to be resting inside.
But just after 1pm the word went through the ranks that he was about to emerge.
Among the political heavyweights, the BBC's Nick Robinson, Sky's Adam Boulton, and Channel 4's Jon Snow were all there to hear what he would say.
As well as the national broadcasters, television crews from around the world, from Germany to Japan, were on the scene.
The lectern arrived first and then, at 1.40pm, the Prime Minister himself.
He walked from Number 10 to the scatter gun sound of camera shutters, squared off his papers, and began.
But his words were not enough to satisfy many in the audience.
As Mr Brown walked slowly back through the front door, one prominent journalist said loudly: "He's living in cloud cuckoo land."