I’m to be a polling clerk on Thursday, oiling the wheels of democracy repetitively and attentively but with a pleasant manner (however tired I am after 8, no- 10, no- 12, but 15 hours of the same). I’d like to think I might get a poem out of it though.
I am not to wear party colours (so I suppose grey, black or white?) nor am I to have ‘assisted or been employed by’ any political party. I don’t know how far this goes so although I’m truly burning with anxiety about this election and hoping against hope for changes in the near future I daren’t nail my colours to any mast. (who cares what I think anyway although I’d really like to vote for more kindness, as someone said on Fb recently). Because the truth is my day’s pay is dependent on this and because I’ll have lost £28k in pension payments by the time I reach ‘pensionable age’ a day’s pay means a lot to me. (My birthday happens to fall on the very day they chose for raising the age to its current date. Just adding this info in for good measure!)
How to get a poem out of it though?
It’s true there is an honour in the role in ensuring everyone gets to have their say, even those I might not agree with. The whole process has been carefully thought out so the ballot is like a long-drawn-out ceremony to the gods of free speech. And indeed, the Presiding Officer (who brings croissants and coffee and biscuits and buns for us) appears to like me knowing a number of the voters and be a friendly face to say Hello so they don’t feel they’re just a number on our papers. (If friends or acquaintances arrive during a lull I can even chat to them!) And it is useful to the procedure that I know the names and whereabouts of streets (as it’s organised alphabetically by street and not elector’s name…v complicated, I can tell you!) But the careful administration of ballot papers and explanation of ballots (there are three in my polling area) is all very much in the wrong side of the brain for poetry. And I really can’t scribble notes to myself under the desk…how questionable would that would look?
But maybe there’ll be a flash fiction in there somewhere!