Sunday 17 May 2009

Very Important Meeting

It's a beautiful Sunday morning, but if the weather forecast is to be believed, it won't stay that way. Yesterday we had sun, torrential rain and rhubarb-perforating hailstones. Today we would like it to stay fine for 12 noon, because something unique is planned: there is to be an Allotment Meeting.

Our allotments have always had a Committee, a shady organisation run by a handful of the old chaps, whose meetings were rare and unrecorded, seemingly taking place in the local pub, the Blue Bell. Last year, new members were voted in, although for those of us who weren't of that select group (I forgot to attend, or was in Australia, some excuse like that; after countless work Committees I have chaired or attended, I wasn't panting to be allowed onto another one) nothing much changed as a result. Except that the treasurer, who never attended, was deposed and replaced by someone who would actually carry out treasurer duties - well, give out receipts for the rent payments, at least. The deposed (absent) treasurer was furious and outraged when he found out, and later questioned me closely about the decision-making involved in this bloodless coup. I was never so relieved to be able to say, feeble-voiced, "I wasn't there"......

Election time has arrived again, and the meeting is to be held on the allotment site itself - if the weather turns, we may have to huddle in a shed, a bit risky if feelings run high with sharp tools to hand. But the agenda, already pinned to the fence, is hardly revolutionary, and at least one surprise has been spoiled in advance: Item 3. Fires (NOT ALLOWED NOW). Ok, we either knew that already, or we do now; I'll be interested to find how much discussion time this item receives.

Elizabeth (the secretary - the one who can't bring herself to issue the letters of warning to plot-neglecters) has hinted at grants being available, and that she would like us all to have an identical shed, neatly aligned along the back fence. Now that's a proposal sure to arouse strong feelings; some of us have sheds already, and have put time and effort into making sure they don't blow down in strong winds. They are mostly hideous, and certainly not neatly aligned with anything; we don't do alignment down on our site.

Mine has mice, a double-glazed window that is broken and covered in wire netting and old trellis, and a door latch that is held shut with a twig. It's home made and not in the least smart, but it's sturdy and built by a predecessor in true Allotment Vernacular style.
Eddie's is huge, and part-greenhouse, made entirely of salvaged windows and corrugated metal, with an mysteriously deep concrete floor. Stone-throwing youths on the other side of the river regard it as a special challenge. Colin's is a post-apocalyptic wreck with a swinging door hanging at a rakish angle, and sits in a heap of overgrown junk. And so on. My bet is that no one, grant or no grant, will want a new shed if any preparatory work has to be carried out, or, worse, if it means getting rid of anything.

My experience of Committees is that anything can happen, including flaring rows, bizarre alliances, the emergence of long-nursed bitterness and resentment, and occasional surprising decision. I'm looking forward to our meeting today. And now I'm off to make some little cakes to take down with me. Discussion might (I hope) be lively, and a bit of something sweet might help to prevent trowels being used in anger.


mountainear said...

You may not wish to write anything down in an official capacity but please take notes for us.

I assume the picture is of your shed (love it) and that the Committee etc have something larger to huddle in. Could get very intimate otherwise.

Charlotte said...

I think sweetening the committee up with yummy cakes is a fabulous idea! I thought the whole point of allotments was make do and mend? As long as it isn't absolutely minging and dangerous does it really matter if everyone's shed is perfectly aligned and matching? x

Susan said...

Will wait ... on the edge of my office chair for the post committee report. I'm particularly interested in the mysteriously deep concrete floor and considering your tremendous way with "the" words ... I'm wondering if there isn't an Allotment British mystery trilogy hangin' about deep in someone's shed ??

cheers from les Gang at Black Street.

rachel said...

Yes, that's my shed. Looks small, but has Tardis qualities.

And yes, I agree absolutely with the make do and mend approach to allotments; gives them character!

Oh, that deep deep concrete....Eddie maintains that the man who laid the foundations was a builder and used up surplus materials, but we wonder about more sinister things...

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