Polling Day

Polling Day

I really am like a small child at the moment. I'm telling, from 0700 till 0900 or 1000, for Labour at the Drury Lane polling station. There is, loath as I am to admit it, a certain charm to the process of an election on the day.

The 'Polling Station' sign is gaffer taped to a railing. The polling booths themselves are not dissimilar to portable display boards. There is not a computer in sight. There are pencils on bits of string, and the clerk running the station has assured me that the pencils are indelible.

Polling starts in twenty minutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am the only teller here, complete with rosette (with no names of candidates or parties, as per the rules). I actually woke up, in a manner not a million miles away from a young child, old enough to know that presents are coming, old enough to know they'll be the centre of attention, young enough not to know to look under their parents' bed, young enough to be taken in by the magic, on Christmas Day, at half past five, just in time to hear the end of the World Service and the start of Radio Four. I was that excited.

So, I have one plain rosette (red), two telling books, two copies of instruction sheets and one pen. All I need now is some voters... I wasn't expecting queues up to High Holborn (hoping, but not expecting) but a few would have been nice.

The clerk said that he was surprised to see me - fool, could he not see the juvenile joy in my face from a hundred paces? - as Labour hadn't sent anyone to this polling station for a long while. He did say that there were always some - and this is a direct quote - "elderly ladies from the others... you know, twinset & pearls, that sort".

12 minutes till polling starts. Come on, you bastards! Come and make me feel still more important. Ok, one of the polling clerks has gone out for a smoke. Time to start making friends...

7 minutes... where's my queue?

So, as of 1000 we've had about 150 people out of a maximum 1809 through. By any standard, that's pretty good going. I'm on the bus heading back to the committee room to drop off the forms. There were two Tories there at the same time as me. The first one was, aside from being Belgian, Tory Boy incarnate. Pleasant enough, though. The second person was altogether more interesting, mostly because I couldn't work out for the life of me why he was a Tory. This becomes apparent later on.

He was a genial, bumbling sort with a bit of an affectation in his manner and the curious scruffiness of an eccentric English gent. Nice enough, but didn't agree with the Tories on anything. A vegetarian, he opposed foxhunting very forcefully, favours a local income tax instead of the council tax, was dubious about the war; in short a LibDem. Turned out that when he wasn't in 'town', he had a farm in Pembrokeshire. Enough said, I fancy.

Anyway, I'm having a break until seven, when madcap running around will start in earnest.

 

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