I am waiting outside the Village Hall for my friend Marion who has the key. Our meeting is not due to start for another quarter of an hour but it’s something I’ve noticed about the senior generation: they –
we – always turn up early. There are quite a few people gathering in the car park already and looking for somebody who appears to be in charge. That’ll be me, then.
I haven’t parked in the car park at the Village Hall, but along the road opposite. Someone at some time in the recent past has driven their car into the rather beautiful flint wall of the car park and knocked it down. There is a lot of yellow
hazard tape threaded across the damaged wall like a necklace marking out the potential danger to the unwitting. It is a very visible warning to those of us who don’t like parking in small spaces not to attempt to park there. Hence my sensible decision
to park in a side road.
Marion arrives with the key and opens up. The hall feels cold and unwelcoming. We investigate along a sloping corridor and find the
small room which we have booked for the afternoon at the princely sum of £8 an hour. Someone explores further and finds out that there is no light in the nearest loo. We do what anyone would do in such less than salubrious circumstances. We put
the kettle on.
When I say I am in charge, what I mean is that I am one of three of us in charge. We are a self-selected triumvirate (for want of a better
word) leading our U3A branch’s contribution to something called The Sun Project. Today’s meeting is to bring together all the people who have volunteered to make a collage, write a poem, paint, crochet, knit, embroider or any other artistic
endeavour as a contribution to the project – a Celebration of the South Downs. Our Leading Light, Pam, has come up with the brilliant idea of creating wooden “postcards” of places our Questers group has visited over the last two years
or so, to be displayed at the SUN exhibition under the title of “Wish You were here.” Sheer genius.
We locate some folding tables and set them up in
the hall along with twelve chairs of varying degrees of comfort. Pam produces chocolate digestive biscuits, cups of tea and coffee emerge from the kitchen. Suddenly there is lots of chat and laughter. We all introduce ourselves. The hall seems
warmer, somehow, much more welcoming. Maybe the afternoon will turn out alright, after all.
Pam whispers to me to take minutes of the meeting which is
a bit of a problem as I haven’t had the foresight to bring along a notebook. Pam finds two pieces of scrap paper and I scrabble in my bag for a pen. I pass one of the pieces of paper round the table to capture everybody’s name as I
am sure to get someone‘s name wrong if I rely on my memory. They will be very brief notes, I decide, arbitrarily. Everyone is talking at once and it’s not going to be easy to provide a full and accurate record. I shall apply a large
helping of journalistic licence.
When we first started off on this project we were a bit worried that nobody would volunteer. So it’s truly splendid
to see that no fewer than twelve “postcards” have already been completed and they are, quite simply, stunning. Everyone is inspired just at the sight of them. I have brought my camera long and take a photograph of everyone holding up the
“postcards” and beaming with pride. Hopefully I managed to hold the camera steady while I snapped away...
Each wooden “postcard”
will eventually have a short poem or descriptive piece of prose written on the back, with a real stamp affixed for a touch of authenticity. At our next meeting we shall have to decide how best to display them at the exhibition – which is not until
July next year so we have plenty of time to argue over everyone’s different ideas.
After an entertaining and productive hour, our artists wander off home.
I wash up the cups and saucers in the tiny kitchen and start to worry about my own contribution which is to somehow depict the costume collection at Worthing Museum on my “postcard.” Pam says it will be easy peasy, all I need to do is to create
a background of different pieces of material and slap a small photo of the group which visited the museum on top (see the photo illustrating today's blog.) It sounds simple, the way she describes it. Then I think of Roland’s evocative painting
of High Salvington Windmill, Sybille’s floral tribute to West Dean Gardens, Avril’s vibrant “Flowers of Sussex” and despair.
I can take
the Minutes of the meeting; I’m a dab hand at washing up. It’s the arty crafty bit that’s worrying me...