The Sage impresses – and then forgets

I was out all day yesterday, at a training day about church maintenance. Much of it was about guttering and drainpipes. It was absolutely fascinating – no, it was. I do love to hear a practically-minded chap talking about his enthusiasms, and I am now as keen on drainage as he is.

I went home via the Co-op, and then the shop, where I stopped to lend Al a hand. The phone rang, and it was the Sage. “I know you’ve got to take along a plateful of food for tomorrow” he said, “and you won’t have time. So I’ve bought an extra loaf of bread and some smoked salmon, and I’ll make the sandwiches.” I gasped. I was unable to speak for a moment. Then, “I love you” I stammered, breathily.

This morning, we didn’t get up that early, because I still loved him. When I was ready to go out, I didn’t have time to go in and fetch the papers, so I asked him to. We finally arrived home from our after-church lunch and meeting, at 3 o’clock. “Where are the papers?” he asked. “Er…” “Sorry” he said.

Oh well, they’ll keep them for us I suppose, as they are on the bill. Tomorrow will do.

Now, another bit of a quandary tonight. You know the society I’m chairman of – the constitution says that the chairman steps down after three years – that’s coming up this June. But no one wants to take over. The reason is that everyone else is doing a damn good job and enjoying it. There is someone who says she’s willing to be chairman – but she wants to do another job first, and that seems fair. Another had a pretty rough time looking after a relation, who died after a long illness. She hasn’t said no, but she needed time to get over things – I let it drop for a while, but in the meantime she’s really got her teeth into another, rather tricky, job that she’s making work better than anyone ever has before. So it’s been suggested that I carry on. I’ve been reluctant, but a decision will have to be made in a couple of weeks.

This evening, I’ve had two emails from one person –

“I fear we put poor J under pressure, seeing that her Ely visit isn’t until June. She managed to get it sorted pronto and brought it in today. I had envelopes stamped and labelled, and put in the newsletter and J’s contribution, and will hand them in tomorrow at the post office second class.

I much admire J’s contribution. In fact, on contemplation, I reckon all your committee are highly efficient. People comment on the high quality of the talks, the visits and the holidays away in such complimentary terms. I should add, Z, how much they like you as Chairman, in that you don’t make them feel artistically inadequate, but give a happy human touch. No wonder we have such a huge waiting list.

Best wishes, P”

Names abbreviated to protect the innocent, of course.

Second email, shortly afterwards –

“Come on, Z: In Norfolk we “Do Different”. Why the hell must we all listen to “Three years etc”? Why can’t YOU go on for six years, and all your committee continue in the jobs they do so very adequately? If it works, why mend it? Our Nadfas will never have a better team, so why not hang on for another few sessions? I hate bureaucracy dictating, and suggest all who are able and willing keep on for the good of our Nadfas.

Love P”

I haven’t replied yet – I think it’s permissible not to have read emails and answered them on a Sunday evening. But it’s been apparent for a while that I haven’t much alternative. As I said the other day, if things are not going the way I choose and I can see it, why waste the powder?

The thing is, I’ve been a good chairman in the past. But I’ve been at my best in a crisis. When things aren’t going too well, I am pretty good at focusing on the best way to go and making things happen. I found it quite difficult when I started to chair this committee, and the society, because it was all fine and I didn’t feel I had much area of focus. It took me a year or two to get going, but I’ve found my feet now.

But if I say yes, I’ve got to put this across to the members so that they, er, vote me in. I’m not much of one for electioneering. At least I’ll be standing unopposed – but they still might vote me out.

And people do like me – but I’m not like the other chairmen they’ve had. I have gone down the route of being warm and informal – yeah, I want them to like me and smile, I go for laughs and the ‘human touch’, rather than the ‘professional’ one. I try to put some substance into what I say, but also to be personal. Complete ignorance helps, of course, because as P says, no one feels inadequate to me. All in all, I probably drive some people quietly mad, because they feel I’m just too dumb for the job.

11 comments on “The Sage impresses – and then forgets

  1. Dandelion

    Let me get this straight: You’d be standing unopposed, you’ve been asked to continue, and no-one else wants to take over. In these circumstances, why on earth would they vote you out? And if you’re not even sure if you want to do it, why would you even care? Please don’t tell me you’re going to put any effort whatsoever into an election campaign?

  2. PI

    Are you still in bed? Tut tut!
    My experience in the TWG is that if they find a willing horse they are content to sit back. It’s really up to you: continue only if you are very keen to do so.

  3. Z

    I wasn’t being serious about electioneering, but I still will have to explain myself to the members. Some of them are founder members who drew up that constitution and, whilst they wouldn’t actually refuse to vote in the committee, they probably won’t approve.

    This is the most enjoyable committee I’ve ever been on and we’re all working really well. It is quite a lot of work and occasionally tricky – it was one of the members I had an up-and-downer with last week. If I refused to carry on they would be put on the spot as someone else would have to leave the job they are doing and take over – someone would, but it isn’t the better option.

    Pat, I was awake in the small hours and mercifully went off to sleep at 5-ish for another couple of hours. Sorry I wasn’t there to wave at you.

  4. The Boy

    Ehem… I have found in my experience that a talented chairman must drag themselves from the post when they no longer want to do it. I have never, ever seen a good chairman voted out.

    Do you still want to do it?

  5. Z

    Boy, I think that was the thinking behind the 3 year rule – that no one should get landed with a job forever, nor should anyone linger beyond his or her usefulness but be hard to get rid of.

    I’d been geared up to 3 years, you know? – so I was ready to finish and quite pleased to. But it is going really well and I do love the committee, and there isn’t another obvious job for me to do on it – so I guess I’ve come round to it.

    Dandelion, Dave, I’m glad to have been the means of your introduction.


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