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paul@plan-a

Trust You? Oh my essentials!

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Being a public servant and a chair of a voluntary group, I get invited to some odd meetings. Yesterdays was entitled ‘Trustee Essentials’. Basically it was an informative on the pro and cons of working in the voluntary sector or as Gordon likes to label us the ‘3rd Sector’. I was in 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts as a boy so I don’t have a problem with the title, and weren’t the organisation Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet belonged to called ‘Sector’? Can’t all be bad.

The meeting was being conducted in two hundred year old Town Hall, the room was adorned with wood cladding, one of those ones that the door disappears when closed, like a Commando all camouflaged up in a corn field. The room was already warm; a large lady greeted the attendees as they slowly filed in. The temperature started to climb. Once we were all in place the large lady who happened to be Canadian announced “let’s gets some air in here”. Now the windows opened by a bizarre weights and pulley system that was probably en vogue at the time of George 1 but in this day an age was not quite working smoothly.

In reality you could either have the windows fully open or closed, the push me pull you system had obviously failed to incorporate the ‘a jar’ terminology. Anyhow our carefully prepared hand outs where now all neatly stacked on the floor in the well created by the tables being arranged like a wagon train fighting off Red Indians! The large lady surprisingly flexible dived to her knees and shuffled into the centre, ‘Dawn French meets Pocahontas’ springs to mind; well it did in my strange brain.

Handouts restored the trainer started proceedings, ‘Dawn French meets Pocahontas’ announced him as Mike……. close he replied it’s actually Mark, oh Christ she shouted I would throw myself out of the window into the street if I could fit through it! She left, I smiled at the chap next to me, he looked uncomfortable, I am not sure whether it was the thought of ‘Dawn French meets Pocahontas’ near suicide attempt or the view he had had of her ample chest restrained by a ridiculously tight cheese cloth top, I of course averted my eyes well I did have a sneaky look but I didn’t stare you understand.

The meeting was under way, I made notes, revisit our constitution, make sure we have a budget for training, consider legal structures …….I started to doodle. A quick toilet break made me realise that the toilet situation in Georgian times was a real close relief affair. I am not saying the facility could be classed as bijoux, but containing a little privacy was not easy. You all had to wait until you had finished before shaking as our arms where touching, still it helped to get to know the each other.

All sorts of strange language was used in the seminar, but one word had me flummoxed ‘Propinquity’ others seemed aware of its meaning? My secondary school English education did not extend to this, I stopped the meeting and asked for an explanation, ah…… closeness of course, so what I experienced in the gents was Propinquity, I’ll know for the next time I’m in there.

Lunch was a welcome adjournment, I gazed out of the window now fully open I came to the decision that depending on ‘Dawn French meets Pocahontas’s’ trajectory in her approach to the opening she would have made it through maybe clipping the window ledge on the way down, her landing would have caused a stir in the market place which was laid out around the Town Halls entrance but it could have been achieved.

After lunch it was more of the same; legalities, retention of accounting records and effective board motivation! Phew ‘Gods teeth how long was this going to go on for. I had put on a favourite watch in the morning so I took the time to examine it in detail. The chap sitting next to me represented a male voice choir; he seemed distressed when informed that being a choir just for men could be considered discriminatory?

The afternoon break was upon us, I help myself to an unopened bottle of ice cold lemonade, as I released the cap a shower of the substance shot out over the male voice choir member I tried to close the cap, there we were fighting over the bottle like two racing drivers over the champagne on a formula 1 rostrum. I eventually got the cap off. Being the holder of the bottle I only had a few splatters, but my colleague was less fortunate and the wafer thin serviettes where making matters worse rubbed by other members of the group on his now ruined sports jacket.

The last hour of the meeting took an eternity, at last Mark asked for the monitoring feedback forms to be handed in, I had filled mine out before lunch now was ready to go, I pushed back my chair and prepared to stand, I did not feel level, my prothstetic leg had landed on something uneven, to my horror I realised that I had used a ladies foot to purchase upon before getting myself up right she let out a hell of a scream, I was so apologetic, she had been helping herself to the unwanted sandwich left overs from lunch which where set out on the table behind me. She fell in a chair clutching he fast reddening toes that extended from a sandal. Announcing my departure I fled towards the Georgian staircase and was half way down before I realised I had left my walking stick by the window in the meeting room. I returned to no fanfare, I had to lean across the very upset lady whose foot was fast swelling to the size of a small water melon, to reach my walking stick; again I apologised and stole away.

Returning to my car I thought about the chaos I had caused, why me? Does Barack Obama stamp on unfortunate colleagues feet or shower them with cheap Asda lemonade? As a public servant am I doing any good at all? This question will remain unanswered, the by pass for the small town got me back as it took me 30 minutes to find the ring road that lead to the main artery road back to my office, I very much doubt I shall be asked to attend another of these meetings again, especially if there will the men’s choir or the very large Pocahontas appreciation society in attendance.

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