Thursday, 17 July 2014

Random (Thursday) Snippets from the life of an Agent

The office is like the Marie Celeste today. Jon Botten is at his girlfriend's graduation, Matt Boughton is away driving a Golf Buggy at the Royal Liverpool Open and even the young lady who is with us for work experience has not come in as she has a migraine. I have cleared my in tray (like clearing the freezer - amazing what I have found at the bottom) and written all those letters I keep "putting off" as I always have something better to do.  I hope the gentleman from Tonbridge who regularly writes in red ink on the lid of a Kentucky Fried Chicken box will be pleased to hear that I share his general opinions on Nick Clegg though I don't actually agree that he is a Chinese Communist spy.  

Last night was the Tonbridge and Malling Executive Council, and there was disharmony. Now I appreciate that a row at the Executive isn't a surprise for most Associations (and for many it's compulsory). But at T&M it's unheard off. The cause of the fracas? It was the Treasurer's Report. Our super efficient Treasurer not only shows year to date, but also shows year against budget and like for like comparisons for each of the last 6 years. His skills and patience are renowned and we all dread the day he retires. Had he been there last night he might have brought that date forward! The row was about the fact that in the historical figures for  2011 appeared twice. No-one cared about this year's figures - not a single question, but the debate about why 2011 appeared twice got a certain corner of the meeting quite agitated. At one point six people were speaking about it; often at the same time.  After they had blown themselves out, the Chairman announced the next item.... "shall we move on to item five..."

"Actually Mr Chairman, I've found another error.." said the man who resembles Statler from the Muppet Show.  He rummaged through his papers - "here - on page two..... I think Ladies' Luncheon Club should have the apostrophe after the S..."

I am always up at Item 6 (Agent's report) followed at 7 and 8 by the two Deputy Chairman. I take this quite seriously, and always put some effort into the content and tone of my report, keen to give members a taste of what is happening, what's to come and where we are politically. I admit my reports are usually quite thorough, but they pay my salary and they deserve their money's worth!  This, however, is very unfair on the two Deputy Chairman who have to follow me as at every single meeting for the last two years they look crestfallen as they each stand up and say "Well.... the agent has said everything I was going to say - so I won't table a report this time."   This must be incredibly frustrating for them, having spent hours writing a report about all their hard work, only to have the bloody paid help stealing their thunder. So I have emailed the Chairman to suggest that in future I go on after the two Deputy Chairmen, allowing them a clear stage for their reports. I can then simply mop-up on anything they might have missed. 

Ring ring...

AK: "Conservative Campaign Centre, how can I help?"
Woman: "My name is Mrs (x) and I have just moved into (very rural parish)..."
AK: "Yes..."
Woman: "And I want to know who my MP is as I wish to complain about the church bells."
AK: "What's the problem with them..."
Woman, "They keep ringing..."
AK: Yes, they do that, church bells.
Woman, "Well I want them turned off, I work from home and they are irritating." 
AK: "May I ask where in the village you live...?" 
Woman: (gives address on the High Street, three houses away from the church)
AK: "so let me get this straight, you've just bought a property in an historic village, three doors away from the church, and you are now wish to silence the church bells which have been ringing in that village since 1788?"  (I had Googled it!)
Woman: "If that's your attitude I'm not voting Conservative."

I suspect some people would like me to be a bit more sympathetic, but things like this really annoy me. Like people who buy houses by bus stops and complain about buses stopping outside their house, or buying a house on a main road and complaining about the traffic. It is the modern thing to show empathy, but I sometimes wonder if this is right. Often people are simply wrong and trying to find words to placate doesn't help, especially when a "sorry I don't agree with you" is by far the most honest and right thing to say. 

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