Friday 24 October 2014
A blueprint for Council meetings
21 October 2014
I am frantically preparing for the 5 November Council meeting. Normally I leave Council meetings to other people to get frantic about, but this time there is a risk that the President might be away and therefore that I might actually have to chair the meeting. Clearly this is terrifying. I can be scary, sure, but I am no match for 24 grumpy Council members and true.
I decide the best way to prepare is to have all the papers ready well in advance and an agenda that is timed to the last 30 seconds (Mr Davies is working on this; he is good at misdirected optimism). I have this mad vision of a Council that reads all said papers beforehand so that at the meeting, all it needs to do is cast a final vote on several carefully-drafted proposals. So my ideal Council meeting would go something like this:
Me (in the Chair da-da-da-DA!): Shut up and listen everyone.
Rest of Council: rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.
Me: No really, shut up, or I shall start Morris dancing.
Me: Agenda item 1.
Council member 1: Madame Chairgentlewoman, could we just clarify what-
Me: No. Just vote. It’s not rocket science. Yes or no?
[Reluctant show of hands. Mr Davies writes something unintelligible in the minutes, which he will later come to regret.]
Me: Agenda item 2.
Council member 2: May I just say, with all due respect, that this proposal is complete BALDERDASH.
Me: Yes, Mr Boff, you may.
Council member 2: This proposal is complete BALDERDASH.
Me: With all due respect?
Council member 2: Yes, with all due respect. But in the circumstances, it appears there is very little respect due.
Me: Fair point. Now vote. Yes or no?
[Reluctant show of hands. Much grumbling. Mr Davies’s pen runs out. I take the opportunity to steal another biscuit.]
Me: Agenda item 3.
Council member 3: This item should really have been considered before agenda item 2.
Me: Absolutely. Never mind. Yes or no?
Council member 4: I haven’t read the papers on this yet. What is it about?
Me: Don’t care. Yes or no?
[Collars begin to steam. Mr Davies takes the steam as an indication of consent and records a unanimous “yes” vote.]
Me: Agenda item 4.
Council member 5: Ah, this one. Personally I think we should have a long and convoluted discussion about this and be rude to one another in the process.
Council member 6: And I would like to say something at a complete tangent to the issue under discussion.
Council member 7: And I would like to tell that story again about my first trainee in 1937.
Council member 8: And I am spoiling for a fight.
Rest of Council: Hear, hear!
Council member 9: This is outrageous! The Vice-President is a ruthless dictator! I propose a vote of no confidence!
Me: Yay! Vote away. Yes or no?
Rest of Council: Yes! Down with the ruthless Vice-President!
Council member 10: What happens now?
Council member 11: We must check the Bye-Laws.
Council member 12: Has anyone seen the Bye-Laws?
Council member 13: Mr Davies had them last.
[Everyone looks at Mr Davies. Mr Davies looks at his shoes. His pen runs out again.]
Council member 14: But do we mean the current Bye-Laws or the about-to-be-rewritten Bye-Laws with the new improved provisions on getting things done quicker?
Mr Davies: The about-to-be-rewritten Bye-Laws are still with the Under-50s Club being rewritten but not very quickly.
Council member 2: Tosh! It is all utter tosh!
Council member 15: What is?
Council member 2: Everything is. Tosh and balderdash and-… Why is the Vice-President leaving??
Me: Ladies, Gentlemen, I’m off to happy hour. Anyone coming with me?
[All except Mr Davies scrape back chairs, gather up laptops and leave.]
Mr Davies [weeping]: But what about the OGM…?
You see, it is important to get through all the business quickly, because we have a happy hour scheduled for after the meeting. And in between the meeting and the happy hour, there is an Ordinary General Meeting to vote in lots of new members. We have a backlog of bright young students waiting at the front door because we have not held enough OGMs recently to vote them in. And we have not held enough OGMs recently because, well, to be frank, OGMs are extremely tedious and no one ever wants to come to them.
Anyway, I am blowed if either the Council meeting or the Ordinary Generally Tedious Meeting is going to encroach on happy hour. So a ruthless dictatorship it will be.