Thursday, 6 May 2010

Overheard at the Polling Station

So today is polling day and I expect that you dear reader will already know the result and are girding your loins at this very moment for the cut-backs and the long dark night not only of the soul but public spending.

After work I walked down to the polling station, in my case a church hall. The sun was shining and people lingered outside to chat and there were various people armed with clipboards approaching voters before they went in. One local councillor whose job is also up for grabs today was caught in a pincer movement by two old ladies who demanded to know how he had the audacity to ask for them for their support when he hadn’t bothered to knock on their door and explain his policies and what he stood for. Other candidates shrank back; no doubt glad they hadn’t been the subject of the ladies spirited attack. I had to linger to listen as they had got into their stride and lambasted the unfortunate candidate with all the ills of their world, many of which he had little control over as a Local Authority Councillor. The lack of suitable equipment for the troops in Afghanistan ( one of the ladies had a grandson in the Army, the cost of petrol and duck houses, The NHS, the state of the pavements, pensions all were grist to their mill. He tried to explain that as a local councillor (and an Independent Councillor at that) he had little control over anything governmental but at the mention of pavements he clung to that like a drowning man.
“I have a good track record on pressing for compensation for elderly people who have been injured due to poor pavement maintenance” he beamed at the ladies.
They looked at each other then at him, “What does that mean when it’s at home? You haven’t come knocking on our door telling us all about what you’ve done for old people who can’t stay upright.” they paused for only a millisecond, “Exactly how many people have you helped?”
You could see the man was struggling with the reply. “Well one, an eighty year old lady but she got, five hundred pounds for a broken ankle caused by some paving slabs sticking up.”
“I wouldn’t fall out of bed for five hundred pounds,” replied the tightly permed one. “If you break your ankle when you are over eighty like us, you know what you can look forward to …..hours hanging around in casualty, MRSA probably and pneumonia because you have to sit around in a freezing cold house unable to move even to keep yourself warm because you can’t afford to turn the bloody fire on. The bloody guided bus is millions of pounds over budget and isn’t even opened because you can’t get that right and all you can manage is £500 quid for a life threatening injury. I suppose she got less because the powers that be thought she didn’t have much time left anyway so no point giving her lots of money if she was going to die soon?”

The Councillor was on the back foot well and truly now and looking for a way out, he decided to take the simple route out.
“So will you be voting for me?” It was said as a means of ending the conversation rather than a genuine enquiry.
“Oh yes love, we always vote for someone who lives in the town no matter how useless they are, at least you aren’t an in-comer.” The smaller of the two old ladies said as if the man was stupid even thinking that they would not be voting for him. I inwardly groaned at the on coming immigrant rant.
“Yes some of that lot from the next town can’t be trusted,” agreed the other woman.
The would be re-elected Councillor retreated no doubt as mystified as me about the psyche of the voting public.

I am off this weekend to the Poetry-Next-the-Sea festival in Wells, sun, sea, poems and delights of fish and chips. It may be to lick wounds or celebrate but what ever the outcome of the election there are hard times ahead, The times they are a changin' as Mr Dylan once pointed out.

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