WOULD you be kind enough to humour me for a few minutes?

I’ve been trying to process the Highworth Town Council election situation, but I’m not sure I’m up to the job.

Perhaps it’s my advancing years. Perhaps there comes a point when the brain says: “Look, mate, sorry to break this to you, but middle age has crept up like some beige boa constrictor and thrown its remorseless coils about your synapses.

“You can barely operate half the functions on your phone, let alone think about complex matters of the day, so it’s best not to bother.

“Stick to age-appropriate pursuits. Eat some fig rolls. Wear jeans two sizes too small. Get together with friends of similar vintage and compare the relative merits of Scooby-Doo and Goober and the Ghost Chasers. Spread the false story that the actor who appeared in the 1970s R White’s lemonade advert was Elvis Costello’s dad.”

Even so, I shall try to understand. I shall set out a list.

Men of my age like making lists. We find them helpful and reassuring. “Remember to feed cat,” we write. And: “Remember to put on trousers before leaving for work.”

If any point on my list is inaccurate, I welcome correction. I am, after all, trying to understand.

Anyway, here goes:

1 Any mechanisms in place intended to spot human error at the Highworth poll – and nobody is immune to human error – were so poorly-devised that 10 candidates were recorded as having received more votes than there were ballot papers issued.

2 Thanks to the poor oversight of this crucial aspect of the democratic process, the 10 candidates in question each received over 2,000 more votes than they would otherwise have received.

3 It has been openly admitted that there is no way of knowing whether certain of the candidates were truly elected or elected only because of the failings which led to the totals being incorrect.

4 Some of the candidates in question, although they were duly elected according to law, cannot say for certain that they were elected according to the wishes of the electorate.

5 Some of the electorate may well be represented by candidates who did not secure a legitimate majority at the ballot box.

6 Although some of the newly-elected councillors in question have anonymously voiced disquiet and called for a re-run, at the time of writing none has resigned or spoken out publicly.

7 At the time of writing it appears that not a single senior official has seen fit to resign.

8 At the time of writing it appears that not a single senior official has seen fit to offer anything like the fulsome apology and acceptance of buck-stop responsibility the wronged electorate deserve.

9 Short of a mass resignation of councillors, which is perhaps unlikely, the only way of resolving what amounts to an affront to democracy is for members of the electorate to launch a highly expensive and tortuous legal process. A fundraising drive has been organised for precisely that purpose.

I have just one question for those in ultimate charge:

What effect do you suppose this shameful mess will have on people’s faith in local democracy?

There are occasions when getting it right first time is the only acceptable maxim.

This was one of them.