I had great fun last night queueing to vote. In a highly efficient country like the UK (yes, I am being serious) we aren’t used to queueing to vote.
Yesterday evening though was a different matter, it was hilarious.
I normally vote in a morning before I go to work but this time I was away on business so the plan was to call into the local school (where the voting was taking place) on my way out to pick Jonathan up from football training.
As I wasn’t expecting to queue I hadn’t left much time before he needed picking up. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to the school hall to find it full. There were people everywhere, and three very stressed, very red faced election officials sat at a primary school table processing people as fast as they could. But clearly not fast enough. After a couple of minutes I decided that I needed to go and get Jonathan and would call on my way back.
Having picked Jonathan up, I was now back at the school. But now it was raining and the queue was out of the door.
“Do I stay or not?” I mutter to myself, but all I could think about was all of those people in other countries who have had their first taste of elections over the last few years and I feel ashamed for even thinking the questions.
In a sense it’s a pointless exercise for me to vote because the local Conservative candidate is almost certain to get in however I vote (Nigel Evans-majority 14,000 ) but actually I see it as a civil duty. He only has a 14,000 majority because 26,000 people do vote for him, that’s 26,000 who have made a decision, it’s not a block vote of 26,000 it’s 26,000 individuals.
So I join the queue. It’s quite exciting really. They are obviously a little concerned about the possibility of a disturbance because the police turn up to make sure things are OK. As it happens one of them is the Dad of one of Emily’s friends (who is also with me). The other thing is, I got to see all sorts of local people who I haven’t seen in ages (“Hello Sarah, how are you?”). I even met a work colleague who I didn’t realise lived anywhere near me (“Hello Geoff I didn’t realise you lived around here.”) The funniest bit was the couple directly behind me. If I had been a bit more stressed myself I would have told them to ‘shut up’ but as it was it was comical. Their conversation consisted of these few phrases repeated in random ways for nearly an hour.
- “Oh we’re moving a bit quicker now.”
- “I’ve never had to queue to vote before.”
- “Why is there only three of them?”
- “I don’t think we’ll get in before 9 o’clock.” (which is when one of the ballots was supposed to close).
- “They’re still coming in.”
- “Look at the queue behind us.”
- “I wonder what the police want.”
I must have heard each of these phrases about twenty times, because they weren’t ever silent, they just used another one of the phrases and they didn’t talk about something different in any one of the sixty minute we were there. It seems to me that this type of muttering is a complete waste of time and energy but some people seem to be masters at it. I think what made it more comical was that they were both quite short and had small winy voices to match. It’s 24 hours later and I can still here them.
Anyway at just past 9 o’clock I voted, and the hall was still full (“Hello Eddie how long have you been queueing”). Jonathan and Emily had gone to sit in the car, Jonathan was asleep (It’s hard work playing football) and Emily wasn’t far off (she’s normally in bed for 8). It was fortunate I didn’t leave it any later because in the end they had to turn 100 people away. And it sounds like the police were definitely on hand for that.
next time I’ll be voting in the morning (or maybe not ).