In out in out you shake it all about.

I never fully understood the phrase ‘coming out of the woodwork’ until today. Today was marvellous. In my neighbourhood, one of the many hills, or ‘down’s’ of Bath, it was busy. People were active. Out and about, and on a mission. In my own street, where I have lived for 6 years, I saw over 20 people emerging that I have never seen before. They smiled at my son, waved my wife and I, and nodded at the Poll cards in my shirt pocket. Everyone emerging at approximately 9.32 am shared a common purpose. To vote. I have never known my stamping ground to have such activity within it. I even made a new friend, whose face I know very well. A lovely lady that I used to wave to on m!y pre-dawn training runs last year. I knew here mischievous eyes by the glow of the television, and now I saw them by sunlight.

As our family unit made our way to the local church (aka Polling station), we joined a tide of people. It was a pilgrimage, and a very English one at that (nobody nailed their colours to the mast- at least not vocally). No, we shared a common purpose, and on our journey we were united. For this vote, or referendum today, people turned up. They came out of the woodwork. My community took a stand, and I feel proud to have seen it and experienced it. As we waited to vote, the elderly gentleman in front of us said ‘Bloody hell, there’s a queue. Usually I’m straight in and out’. The lady behind us said ‘those sod’s what are dealin with the papers are busy for a change’. My heart was gladdened  by both of these responses, because people were voting. They were choosing, and had made the effort to make their choice. They were there.

I felt cleansed and calm after making my crossed mark on my ballot paper, and carried on with my day. After enduring many months of media circumspect and political wrangling, I had marked X on the spot. It was over. Yet, 10 hours later it was not over.  As I drove home I saw many, many people voting. Young , old, parents, grandparents and more all seeking to say something, regardless of where their allegiances lay. I parked up for 5 minutes to listen to what was going on at my polling station, and it was a marvel.

In the time that I was there, I only heard the word ‘Leave’ once, as a formidable lady jabbed her doting, elbow-offering husband in the ribs and said ‘leave off, I’m alright’, and powered her way to the church doors. Seconds afterwards, a battered Land Rover Defender growled to a halt, and a boilersuited farmer descended, put out his fag and slammed his door. The several sheep in his trailer bleated in shock, and he retorted with ‘Shut up ye buggers, Im doing this for you’. I punched the roof of my car with joy. Here was somebody who was here under sufferance, but here nonetheless. Whatever people’s pleasures or proclivities, I am glad that they emerged out of the woodwork today.


© Tom Tide 2016




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