A Polish abacus (liczydło)

A Polish abacus (liczydło) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday was counting day. The count took place at a sports hall in Abingdon and, despite noise and superficial chaos, ran with the well-oiled efficiency of a Japanese high speed rail service (one would not expect anything less). Almost.

Now, there are few things of which I am personally intolerant (over and above cruelty, unkindness and the usual –isms), but there are some. Babies with pierced ears (strictly speaking, the parents, not the babies), gambling and the twin evils of inefficiency and muddled thinking.

Imagine my horror, then, when I found myself to be part what must surely be the world’s most inefficient vote counting team. What really shocked me was that it was possible to count votes inefficiently – all you have to do is to sort bits of paper into piles and count them. IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. I had chosen my seat in the expectation that we would be counting in pairs and this was my fundamental error, as we were assigned in teams of three. So instead of the efficient woman from the Registrar’s service, I found myself working with someone who couldn’t remember when they had last counted and someone who had no previous experience of counting. This was compounded by the fact that, under this arrangement, the person in the middle necessarily becomes team leader and the person in the middle wasn’t me.

The first count became chaotic and took forever. Mercifully, the folks running our part of the count dealt with this quickly by breaking up the teams and I was fished out and placed with a different team headed by a devastatingly efficient ex-bank worker. And, yes, the rest of the count ran with the well-oiled efficiency of a Japanese high speed rail service.