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To vote, or not to vote …

Yesterday was a busy but sobering day for me – apart from the two pints of Harveys Sussex beer that I sank over a pub lunch with a mate – and, reflecting upon it overnight, seemed to chime with the state of modern life in Britain in the context of general malaise arising from the Brexit crisis and everything else that Rusters might choose to nominate and I won’t bother to begin listing here.

First up the MEP elections, the results of which will not be announced until Sunday.

Earlier this week despite all the publicity surrounding the poll I decided to research exactly how I would go about voting in it, this because (so far as I was aware) I had yet to receive any communication in the post or otherwise as to how – and where – I might place my “X” in the box of my desire.

The Government’s own website redirected me to my local authority’s equivalent.

This was full of detail about eligibility and what to do if I was unsure about my specific situation which was that I had received nothing in the post about how I should proceed.

None of it seemed particularly helpful and so, having learned its location from a neighbour on Wednesday evening, I set off at 6.45am yesterday to my local polling station – armed with my passport, driving licence, two utility bills, the latest statement from my mortgage provider and a standard letter from HMRC that I had recently received – with the hope and intention of establishing my bona fides and thereby exercising my democratic right.

Said establishment had as I expected opened on the dot of 7.00am and thereafter I had to wait for some minutes in a queue of about eight people – all of whom seemed to be clutching official electoral communications – in furtherance of my purpose.

When I reached the table at the front of the queue and explained my situation I was pointed in the direction of a poll supervisor sitting in the corner of the room.

She advised me that, without an official electoral communication such as everyone else was sporting, my best or only means of voting would be to present myself at my local civic centre – about two miles away – at some point during the day in order to ‘register’ myself, after which I only needed to return to the polling station and ‘do the deed’.

Unfortunately, due to my already-committed hectic schedule for the day, it was going to nigh impossible to find the necessary window of opportunity to get down to said civic centre and so, dear reader, I took the reluctant but now inevitable decision not to take part in the poll.

Out of such circumstances, of course, the tides of fortune for nations, continents, governments and indeed entire species can sometimes be determined one way or another, for good or ill.

But hey, that was that.

Trudging home afterwards – by now it was about 7.20am – as I knew I would, I came upon my local newsagent/general store and popped in to buy my daily newspapers.

The wife of the proprietor greeted me with her customary “Good morning” as I entered and then announced that their family home somewhere in North London had been burgled on Wednesday morning.

With admirable calm she then elaborated further upon what had happened.

Two white males in their twenties had driven onto the forecourt of their house in a white saloon car and parked up. The chap in the passenger seat had got out, walked up to the front door, pressed the door bell and – when there was no reply – began trying to look through the window beside it clearly seeking to establish whether anyone was at home.

(As it happens there wasn’t – by chance the speaker’s mother-in-law had gone out shopping).

The door bell-ringer then returned to the vehicle and the car drove away and then presumably found somewhere to park.

A few minutes later its driver and passenger returned, now wearing gloves, and somehow – without apparent particular effort – somehow gained entrance to the property.

Another passage of time later, having inflicted major damage to everything in the downstairs rooms (effectively left them seriously wrecked) they then emerged carrying certain items – which later turned out to be sundry items of jewellery and other things of potential value – with which they walked to the main road and then, again presumably, to their vehicle … and eventually away.

I know the above statement of facts to be convincingly true because it was then corroborated, at least to my satisfaction, by the proprietor of the shop himself, who came over and played on his smartphone for my benefit no fewer than five excellent quality clips each lasting 30 seconds or more that had been captured by the security video camera fixed to the front of their house.

I watched these in a state of near-dumbfounded amazement.

I couldn’t tell for sure, but I’d guess that the state of modern police/camera technology would have enable an experienced investigator to establish the car’s registration number plate (or some of it).

Ditto, in my estimation, at the very least the passenger in the car ought to be identifiable: he wore no mask and, although at one point he held his hand up in front of his face as he came close to the camera, he seemed completely unconcerned about being recorded ‘going about his business’.

I was therefore not a little puzzled and concerned when the shop proprietor then told me that, when he and his wife had reported the incident to the police, together with supplying them with the video clips mentioned above, only a few hours later the police contacted him to announce that they would not be pursuing the matter.

We hear much in the media these days about the impact of the Government’s austerity measures over the last 9 years – and the Tory Government’s consistent stock responses that it is “currently putting more money into the NHS/police service … [add here any other departmental budgets that you might care to list] … than ever before in history and certainly more than the last Labour Government ever did” – and in contrast widespread complaints throughout the nation about the lack of bobbies on the beat and sundry other criminal-fighting resources – but this personal insight I received yesterday to life in the raw for a pair of innocent victims of a daytime burglary committed in bright sunshine and in full view of a security camera that was filming them seemed to be attended by an outcome that defied both logic and reason.

Sometimes it’s hard not to take the view that, here in the UK, there isn’t something wrong in the state of Denmark (as the immortal Shakespeare almost put it) …

About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts