Wednesday 30 January 2013


Thanks to those who commented yesterday - I'll try to explain further, though if I'm vague in any respect it'll be because I'm not at liberty to say more - this may be a personal blog but it's on the public internet.

Regarding the woman who's decided to back out - she was all enthusiasm a few months ago, but she says she didn't know what was entailed and it's more commitment than she feels able to take on and, in addition, she's only been a member of the society for a year and there's a lot she doesn't know.  I can't really argue with that: it was more work than I'd expected too, and the Chairman, who took over a year after I joined the committee, says the same thing, and we had a lot of experience in the society.

I agreed to do it in the first instance because I'd been on the committee of my local society for eight years, first as secretary, briefly as programme secretary, then as chairman.  I didn't want to stay on and take on another job, four years as chairman was a lot of work but I loved that committee and I rather wanted to stay involved in the society.  In addition, I know how dispiriting it is to ask a lot of people and be turned down so I'll help out if I reasonably can.

I haven't made the best fist of the job, actually, or I didn't to start with.  I am the secretary of the Area committee, which is the go-between of the National society and twenty-five individual societies in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.  That means I was dealing with Head Office, twenty-five chairmen,  requests to make some changes in the bi-annual meetings, a pretty well unworkable report form that the chairmen had to send in and those two meetings a year which take two months to prepare for.  I discovered that I'm better keeping my hand in all the time rather than leap in twice a year and then have too much work.  The previous secretary was marvellous and she had restructured a lot of the work, including eliminating almost all paper in favour of emailing, which made life far easier.  However, her way of doing things wasn't mine and it took a while for me to find my feet. Now, the report form has been simplified and made easier to fill in yet more informative, changes in the structure of the meetings (implemented by the chairman) have been well received, I've got to know people and, though I was vastly embarrassed at the number of mistakes I made to begin with - and that enabled people to be kind to me: I'm not above using sympathy - things are going very well now.  If they were not, I'd be reluctant to hand on a mess to someone else, but as it is we've got a smoothly running operation - and the AGM is at the end of March.  I shall make all the preparations, take the minutes and do any follow-up work afterwards and would then like to hand it on.

Doing the job for another year wouldn't be any huge hardship though I don't want to, but the chairman is also due to retire next year and it's obviously not a brilliant idea for the chairman and secretary to start together - it helps if one or the other has some experience.  In fact, that isn't a great problem this time round.  The vice-chairman resigned suddenly last summer for family reasons and the person who's taken over is very knowledgeable and will soon pick up the job - however, we risk creating a difficulty for the future.  Also, a three year commitment is meant to ensure that no one gets landed with the job long-term.

My disappointment is not so much that I don't have a replacement yet as that I thought I did.  There's plenty of time to look and a couple of committee members with a lot of contacts are doing just that.  In addition, I'll write to all chairmen and ask them if they know anyone who might be willing - advertise, as JaneRowena suggests.

On the other hand, I can't let them down.  We're all volunteers, we're all busy and we all pull together and help.  It's the way I work and not necessarily because I'm unable to say no - I often say no, I've said no to two long-term commitments in the last six weeks - though I'm inclined to look for a way to help out if I can.  This is a society I've belonged to for something like twenty-four years and I like it very much.  I'm not a dogsbody but I have a sense of responsibility.  If I felt I were not up to the job, if I were ill or the Sage asked me to stop, that would be a different matter, though I'd still try not to leave them in the soup.  They're my friends, I don't want to let them down.  We had a constructive meeting yesterday and a convivial lunch, everyone (including the lady who's backed out) was lovely.  And AQ, you're right, I'd be quite happy, if necessary, to help out someone who needed time to find their feet - though actually it's more a matter of being reasonably organised (not my forte, I'm efficient but disorganised by nature) than anything else.

To move on to other points, yes Mig, I can be very firm.  Zig, that's a good point about commitment.  Tim, xxx. Zain, you're very perceptive and you gave some very good advice, though I don't suffer from guilt as much as you think and I'm quite happy to accept my limitations.  Roses, tantrum, such as it was, is over.  Wine cures most ills, thank you.  Blue Witch, it's not so much that I need to be relied on or needed as that I need outside interests.  Housework (boring) and gardening (solitary) are not enough to engage me, or are you saying that I need a hobby?  Honestly, I'd rather do something interesting and useful that engages me with people.  As for the Sage, yes,  I give him a great deal of my time.  But we've worked from home together for many years and we both need outside stimulation too.  We're terribly dull as Darby and Joan and neither of us enjoys it.  Beryl, my tiredness in this instance was because of all Elle and I did in London, and we didn't sleep well, partly because of sleeping bags, noises outside and being cold (I sussed out the heating next morning, I'd accidentally turned it off instead of on a timer).  I've slept badly for the last couple of years, but that's another matter, it's stress that's nothing to do with work.  I'll need a new hip, but not for a while yet, honestly I'm too young to retire.  What would I do?

Having said all that, I realised that I have neglected my spare time interests too much in the last three or four years, which is why I've booked all those concerts at the Aldeburgh Festival, why I've already set things in motion for this year's blog party and why I'm going to have a dog (no, I haven't done anything about it.  Be patient, it'll happen when the moment arises).  I haven't been to enough exhibitions recently, something I enjoy very much and although I'm not planning the sort of holidays I took last year, I hope to manage a few short breaks.  Wink mentioned something in April when she was last here, she's coming for the weekend and we'll compare diaries.  And the children are all delightful and I want to make sure we see plenty of them - this is a brilliant house for children and a good meeting place because it's big enough for everyone, and we're consciously trying to build up memories of fun times with Granny and Grandpa.


janerowena said...

I used to be like you, until I married again and moved twelve times in the past nineteen years. I learnt to evade jobs I didn't want, as well as having to leave some that I really did want to keep. This village has a Zed-type person in it, a wonderful woman without whom the whole village would fall apart. I could see that she was eyeing me up to be her replacement, but I no longer have the energy for it. Luckily a very efficient and also lovely lady has moved here who seems to be willing to take on anything thrown at her, despite my checking regularly to see if she really is happy to do so, but lovely as she is she will never have Sarah's ability to look at you and ask you to do something pretty awful and tiring but yet you still hear your voice saying 'Yes, of course I will, no problem!'. And that is her problem - she is just such a nice person that we all do as we are told and no-one else has that knack and we know it. She is 75 now and still running charity lunches, charity suppers, our village fete, the carol-singing evening, the tea tent at the Euston Show - she is a churchwarden, a school governor, ran the local WI until recently - the list is endless.

allotmentqueen said...

Is there any way this secretary position could be a job share? Hand over half the job now-ish and half in a few months' time. You could oversee and then you could have fresh blood who wouldn't feel so overwhelmed but would have each other for support (and probably you in the background).

Oh, and yes you are needed - by your grandchildren. No-one ever said I wished I'd spent more time organising meetings/doing paperwork, but plenty have said I wished I'd spent more time with my family.

Z said...

The thing is though, people are needed to do these sorts of things. The members love Nadfas, but there's quite a lot to organise, you have to have a hard-working committee. Every schools needs its volunteer governors, because that's the set-up. And village and community events won't happen unless people get together and make sure they do.

I'm heading off soon to spend the day with two grandchildren and they're all coming to lunch on Sunday. And I devoted myself to bringing up my children and looked after my mother until she died. I've got a reasonably clear conscience about them.

luckyzmom said...

We all just want what's best for you, Sweetie.

mig said...

I'm sure you'll come to a satisfactory arrangement which will work for you and the committee because you are so clear sighted.

And I'm waiting with great patience for the dog to arrive.

Z said...

I'm not too good at what's best for me. I'm better at making the best of what happens. At the worst, someone needs to take over by October. I'm not going to fuss, it'll all work out.

My dog is waiting for me, I can feel it.

Rosie said...

This all sounds so incredibly complicated. I think the dog will be the easiest bit.

Z said...

Assuming it'll all work out usually works for me, Rosie.