"Now, what was it I had to do today?"
Now, I haven't been out yet - kept awake half the night by last night's epic thunderstorm, which has incidentally flooded half of London and the Southeast - but when I got up my social media was full of people talking about their voting experiences, and I've taken, as fast as possible which isn't that fast,a little sampling of the more interesting ones.
This may look one-sided. Very unfortunately, that is because I am not happy to relay the messages of the Leave side. Most of them just look like, if the person was talking to you, they'd be shouting in your face, turning red and spitting when they talk. And they just reel off these insane, incorrect 'facts'. Someone posted up an absurd leaflet that UKIP was circulating in Hemel Hempstead (a prosperous north London suburb):
So most of this is going to be more positive, like this:
Despite the rain
Grab your brolly
"I am off to vote for the first time in my life. Having been raised to believe in equality for all and helping my fellow man, woman and child, it seems my apathy has been overtaken by a desire not to let the LEAVE campaign win."
"I got a bit tearful in the voting booth. Feels so monumentally important."
"Voted and almost shaking as I posted the ballot paper through the ballot box. I voted Remain."
The poet Sean O'Brien on his trip to vote:
"A polling station in a community centre in North Tyneside at about 8.15 am. Bright sunshine. The usual slow-but-steady traffick, mainly of older people who always vote.The usual atmosphere of helpful, slightly embarrassed good humour among the officials, as if the whole business of democracy is slightly implausible. The sort of scene Orwell might have included in his catalogue of English moments. And next to all the electoral documents, a copy of The Daily Mail. This is presumably entirely accidental and coincidental. On the way back I meet a couple of neighbours alarmed at the possibility of a vote to leave. One of them says despairingly of her friends, 'I never knew so many of them were just so...so STUPID.' Let's hope she's wrong."
George Monbiot, the green journalist:
"I went over my cross several times just to make sure. I've never done that before."
A teacher: "The children at school all hugely energised by today's referendum and making cogent arguments for both sides - but the most compelling one of all was this:
Spain is in the EU.
Spain produces lots of strawberries.
Everyone loves strawberries.
"I voted at 7am. There was a stream of people as I left the estate where the polling place was. With 3-or-so-yards (sorry, metres) between them.
I then went shopping. I encouraged a woman worker in Sainsbury's to vote, even though she was going to vote Leave...
Mulling it all on the way back (the rain had almost stopped) I decided it the act of voting was more important than what you vote for. I think that should be sold big-time."
"After the gym I am going to try to help Labour campaign and redeem myself for having been so pathetic over the past months.
A first toe in the water."
An unnamed poet: "Off to vote LEAVE. No longer will this Proud Brit be shackled to the corpse of a tyrant bent on stealing our worglesnurfs." (Then: "Just breaking up the monotony of my newsfeed.")
"I have heartburn."
"[Hipster] Clapton is full of middle-class folks swanning about like they've taken the day off to vote."
"A friend's mother-in-law was leaning Leave but decided to poll her teenage grand-children and vote their wishes, as 'it's their world I'm voting on, I won't be living in it'."
A cartoon by Stephen Collins, not new but apt, illustrates the character of Michael Gove years before he made his now--famous remark last week that, "I think people in this country have had enough of experts." Used with permission; click for full size.
Editing in with two more stories:
"Conversation with Muslim owner behind the counter in the local shop: 'I'm voting leave,' he said.' You'll think a stupid reason. I don't like Turkey. I don't like Pakistan either. If Turkey joins they'll bomb England and and England throw out all the Muslims. And Pakistan, I don't like her, whatever her name is ... Wasi something?'
"I did say I didn't think Pakistan would be joining the EU anytime soon. I also said we shared intelligence about terrorists with the rest of Europe - which has prevented attacks - and it is almost impossible that the UK would decide to banish all our Muslims even after an attack. I said I was an immigrant and he said his father was an immigrant. He then announced very quickly that he'd changed his mind and he promised to vote Remain. But maybe he was just humouring me."
And a other friend says on the phone that as he left the polling station this morning, in leafy south London, he saw an elderly lady hobbling slowly along, shaking her head. As he went past her he could hear her, muttering over and over to herself: 'I still don't know if I've done the right thing...
Off out. More later. (And Sean O'Brien adds, just now: "I'm trying to spend the day working in order to stay calm, but I can feel another observation coming on.")