There was quite a kerfuffle yesterday at the Annual General Meeting of our branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age.)
Don't you just love that word "kerfuffle"?
It would almost be worth causing Merry Mayhem for the pure pleasure of being able to report on the resulting kerfuffle. It isn't a made-up word, you know. You can find it in the Cambridge Englush Dictionay where the definition is "noise, disturbance, argument."
I rather think that is selling kerfuffle short. It really was much, much more exciting than that. The Oracle I consulted also translated the word into Chinese but as I am not at all sure if I have Chinese characters on the Us-Pad, you will just have to take
my word for it.
Anyway, here is what happened. We had raced through the main business of the meeting. Our retiring Chairman (as in, the one giving up the position of chairman; nobody could accuse our Myra
of being the retiring type) had reported on the last year and the Treasurer was explaining the finer points of the budget pages helpfully provided for our examination. Any questions? she asked in a hopeful voice suggesting the required answer was "no." When
our young Rector reads the Banns of Marriage in Church on Sunday mornings, he uses exactly the same voice. His relief when everyone present "forever holds their peace" is almost palpable.
One fella sitting
about halfway back, in the last row back before the gangway leading into the kitchen, clearly wasn't prepared to hold his peace. Why was it, he queried, in a combative tone, that Convenors (that is, the organisers of the fifty different interest groups open
to our 500 members) didn't have to pay the £25 annual membership fee? This represented a considerable loss of potential funding and was, he opined, against the ethos of the U3A. An opinion which he had, indeed, had corroborated by someone High Up in
the U3A chain.
"Who is he?" you could hear everybody whispering to each other. "What's his name and where does the come from?" A few people who had dropped off to sleep during the Chairman's Report and Treasurer's
Report (I think Mr B may have been among them though he robustly denies this) woke up and asked loudly what was going on, was there a fire?
The Treasurer gamely attempted to pour oil on troubled water by saying
that the decision had been taken by the Committee to recognise that Convenors were often out of pocket as a result of their convening, especially if their groups were held in their own homes. Mr Kerfuffle poo-pooed this explanation: Convenors took money for
the refreshments they provided, he commented, so why were they entitled to have their membership as a "freebie"?
Well, it was that word "freebie" that did it. One chap went into a long explanation of how long
it took him to prepare for his group meetings, how much it cost him in petrol to travel to and from the hall where his meetings were held and how he never charged expenses, no, not he. My friend Colin, who is ace at magic tricks involving packs of cards and
five pence pieces, stood up to say that if, as the Chairman had just informed us, we needed more people to volunteer as Convenors, this was not exactly the way to attract them. There were murmurs of approval, not necessarily all from Convenors.
Pat, from Canasta, said she used to belong to another U3A branch where the annual fees were a weighty £40 but free to Convenors. You could almost see the gleam in the new Treasurer's eyes at the thought of £40
a year coming in from everyone. Even if Convenors didn't pay up. Sue who sits next to me at Choir, made a thoughtful contribution saying she felt Convenors were well worth free membership, given how much they did. Loud mutterings of approval. There may, of
course, have been silent agreement in certain quarters for the sentiments expressed by Mr Kerfuffle but not enough for them to add their voices to the general hubbub.
Mr Kerfuffle didn't look at all abashed.
The Chairman, clearly very thankful to be retiring, said this issue would have to be referred to the Committee. The new Chairman, she said, meaningfully (with a distinct emphasis on the word "new") would be sure to make sure it was properly considered. Everyone
seemed vaguely satisfied. The kerfuffle died down though everyone was still somewhat curious about the identity of the originator.
Today our Nomination Whist group met for its fortnightly game of cards at
our house. Mr B and I decided that we should serve up a glass of sherry each so that we could all toast our new Chairman, Avril, who is One Of Us. I bought her a Good Luck card too. It seemed appropriate after yesterday's meeting. We all assured her that we
felt quite certain she could handle absolutely everything Chairman-Related.
Whatever the kerfuffle.