Thursday, 20 September 2012

It was on a Monday morning

My wife decided to alter the focal point of the lounge. All we needed to do was to change a central light fitting, have a redundant side light removed and rearrange the furniture. Oh, and perhaps we needed a new radiator under the window. So after several quotes a plumber was arranged with a fortnight to spare before the job started.

Experience should have warned me that no changes around a house are straightforward. Inevitably the change ball began to roll. It would be a good idea to repaper the wall before the radiator was attached - you know how easy it is to decorate around a fixed radiator. A good look at the ceiling led to the need for the ceiling to be skimmed with new plaster and we had to get a move on to do this in the 2 weeks before the plumber arrived. Suddenly the pressure was on. All the furniture had to be cleared and the floor covered.The plasterer came at very short notice squeezing  our one day job into a weekend window of opportunity. Staring at plaster and willing it to dry quickly so that painting can begin has no effect whatsoever. It will still take a good 3 days, even in warm weather. Meanwhile a new set of concrete posts and panels finally arrived to replace the ageing wooden fence which was putting the Tower of Pisa to shame.

Along came the electrician who had been asked to change the light fitting. Since he was at the house already my wife decided to get a quote  for an outside light and a change of light fittings in the hall. The efficient electrician decided it would be easiest to crack on and do all the jobs while he was there - so the hour I had allowed for the original job became a full day and I was contemplating the problems of midnight paperhanging - at least enough rolls to cover where the radiator was to be fixed. Working around a window, electrical fittings, plugs and telephone connection all added to the fun.

I finished the wall papering last night and am now waiting for the plumber, who is late.I'm looking out at the new garden fence from a near horizontal position on a couch brought on by an inability to move easily at the moment. Retirement wasn't supposed to be this busy. 

It is however amazing just how much can be done in a relatively short time if you don't plan everything out in great detail and you hang on to a sense of humour.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A meeting of minds

The committee meeting this week was a rare one. We met, discussed items on the agenda, made decisions and followed them through. Easy. It was all over in an hour.

Bert would not have enjoyed this. Bert's tactic was to wait until a meeting seemed to be drawing to a close, then decide he had to discuss a few technical difficulties - usually ones that had no clear solution and ones that had been aired before. Sid was no better. Sid would arrive 10 minutes late, then waste another 10 minutes scrounging a copy of the agenda and details of the previous meeting - an unfortunate habit given that he was chairman. There would always be a spell of reminiscence and no attempt to control the content of the meeting, Ethel lived on her own. Consequently the chance to talk to other people was too good to miss; who could not fail to be enthralled with blow by blow accounts of parking problems, hairstyle nightmares and the challenges of telephone calls offering PPI refunds? The classic one however was Clive. Clive was not one for consensus decisions - the only way was "Clive's Way" - and whenever a Choral Society committee decision went a different way you could be sure of  several minutes of high drama to enliven rehearsals.

There do seem to be some unwritten laws about committee meetings.

Whenever the "boss" wants to avoid a decision the number of participants invited increases.
Minutes can be turned into an art form. Indecisive meetings require a delay before production of minutes and may contain references which few can recall (other than the minute writer).
Mobile phone calls/texts must take priority over meeting content.
Water bottles/drinks should be personalised and on full view.
Jargon is absolutely vital and should be thrown into conversations casually, confidently and in such a way that the comments sound plausible.
Commonly used words, such as "issues" and "like" should take on new meanings. 
"No problem"  along with "Don't worry about it" is the standard answer.

I suppose there is a chance that I have lost the plot and am just out of touch with modern ways of thinking. For example,  I was enjoying the closing ceremony of the London Olympics until the music started. In contrast that was the moment when "rapidly approaching teen-age" family members started to get interested.

It's an unnerving experience when, just now and again, meeting agendas work out as expected and minds actually meet. It makes me wonder whether I missed something...