The Vote

A football has landed on my lawn. Balls make frequent flights over the fence.

My neighbours’ garden is a sports centre. In one corner, a wooden Wendy House on stilts, next to a set of swings, a slide and a trampoline. Two sheds. One animal hutch. Lots of steps and ladders. The man next door likes erecting things. Suddenly last summer, he took a very long hose to a very large flat patch of blue which swelled to a swimming pool. It was still there at Christmas. Now, it’s a permanent water feature. He also likes playing with fire. So there’s a barbeque right next to the fence that divides us – not one of those moveable affairs but made of brick, built to last. On warm evenings, the local winds nudge clouds of cremation in my direction.

Still, there’s a bridge of sorts over this fence. I keep it in good repair and once the man’s wife gave me a gift of hard, honeyed waffles – bricks of another kind – made in Poland.  And the theme park is also a playground paradise. The children are only playing. Throw the ball back….

Birds like my bushes and fruit trees. Especially the four and something blackbirds. In the campaign to choose a national bird, I voted Blackbird. It’s a natural. So electable. It’s also the winged symbol of Sweden, but never mind.

Only last week, another election. In the polling booth, a few streets away, I look at the off-white ballot paper. Above the usual tree and rose, an unfamiliar political party symbol: a skull and crossbones. Pirates or anarchists, probably. Not them, then. Definitely not her. One of the candidates lives in the same road as me, but not the best of reasons to vote for him. I’m still floating – the ball is still in the air – but England expects, again, so reach for the bit of string on the counter. Let the pencil decide.

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