A Vogon returning officer

Jun 12th, 2008 | By | Category: Ireland

Those who remember Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may remember the demolition of the Earth to make way for a new road.

”People of Earth, your attention please,” a voice said, and it was wonderful. Wonderful perfect quadrophonic sound with distortion levels so low as to make a brave man weep.

”This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council,” the voice continued. ”As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly lessthat two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.”

The PA died away.

Uncomprehending terror settled on the watching people of Earth. The terror moved slowly through the gathered crowds as if they were iron fillings on a sheet of board and a magnet was moving beneath them. Panic sprouted again, desperate fleeing panic, but there was nowhere to flee to.

Observing this, the Vogons turned on their PA again. It said:

”There’s no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now.”

The PA fell silent again and its echo drifted off across the land. The huge ships turned slowly in the sky with easy power. On the underside of each a hatchway opened, an empty black space.

By this time somebody somewhere must have manned a radio transmitter, located a wavelength and broadcasted a message back to the Vogon ships, to plead on behalf of the planet. Nobody ever heard what they said, they only heard the reply. The PA slammed back into life again. The voice was annoyed. It said:

”What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven’s sake mankind, it’s only four light years away you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout.

If you think such fiction is completely far fetched, then ponder the experience of the elderly people who attempted to vote in Monkstown in south Dublin today, RTE reported,

In Dublin, Up to 30 people from a nursing home and sheltered housing scheme in Monkstown were unable to vote because there was no wheelchair access ramp available at their polling station.

The problem arose at the Knox Hall polling station in Monkstown.

A group of older people from the Cheshire Ireland Centre went to vote, but were unable to enter the hall because they were using wheelchairs or were unable to climb steps.

The residents say they were not told in advance that the hall was not wheelchair accessible, and it did not say this on their polling cards.

The Returning Officer for the area said an examination was carried out at the polling station in advance of polling day to see if it was accessible for disabled people.

He said it was decided that although Knox Hall was not wheelchair accessible, it would not be safe to use a temporary ramp in that particular location.

He said advertisements were put in two national and a number of local papers to this effect advising people that they should contact their Returning Officer to arrange to be transferred to another polling station or to have their vote collected at home.

He said this was the correct procedure under the relevant legislation.

Notices in newspapers? Does anyone ever read those public notices about bankruptcies and road closures and thanks to Saint Jude? Did the Returning Officer really believe that notices in newspapers were a sufficient way of communicating with people in a nursing home? Might a letter to such establishments have been beyond the budget?

It is fascinating to see that Douglas Adams wasn’t wrong, that there really are people like Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.

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  1. Sorry – made me laugh! But it’s so true! Poor old things. Over here nursing homes are visited by ‘mobile’ polling booths – vans. But over here – voting is compulsory

  2. It would probably have been cheaper to send a letter to local nursing homes and put posters etc in local doctors surgeries post offices etc. I think laziness and thoughtlessness rather than budget would have been the reason.

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