Thursday, May 6, 2010

X marks the spot

It was very quiet at the polling station. Three people of a certain age were shuffling out as I went in, while two community support officers leaned against the rails outside, both wearing expressions of extreme boredom.
This is the only time I ever venture into the grounds of the local Catholic boys school. The polling station used to be in the hall - and I think the boys had the day off - but the school has expanded and updated over the years and the local community now votes in a modern building that is used for music or art.
I hadn't taken my polling card and the officials had a little trouble finding me on their lists. Our road splits in two - one half each side of the tube line - and many of the large detached houses have been torn down and replaced by blocks of flats. My ability to read upside down (a skill learned during my occasional stone subbing stints in the days of hot metal) proved its usefulness when I spotted my name in the middle of page 17 and was given my voting slips.
It occurred to me then - as it has before - how odd it felt not to be asked for proof of identity. Almost every other activity these days seems to demand passwords, memorable information, two original documents such as letters from the tax man or a utility company, photographic ID like a passport or driving licence and so on and so forth.
Yet I was able to have my say in electing a government simply by claiming to be me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bank holiday blues

On the May Day bank holiday it's traditional to do some D-I-Y or gardening. It's also traditional for it to pour with rain. So we went hunting elephants in the West End instead.
Drifts of pink petals underneath the ornamental cherry trees carpeted the pavements in the outer suburbs. Further in towards town, the plane trees had just started to come into leaf, giving some streets a pale green glow. The weather went from bright sunshine to hail every ten minutes. And the elephants - which looked on the map we printed out on the internet as if they were clustered in herds - were few and far between.
I think we shot six.