We used to be called convenors. On account of the fact that we, well, convened meetings of like-minded people who wanted to play cards, discuss current affairs, increase their knowledge of art, ballet or music - or spend
lovely, rambling mornings looking for birds hidden out of sight in leafy trees.
Then somebody decided that nobody understood the term “convenors” so
we were re-named “group leaders” which sounds rather more official and daunting. I, as you probably might guess, don’t mind what I am called so long as it’s not too late for dinner. Which was one of my dear mum’s favourite, much-repeated
sayings and one which, as a child, I didn’t quite understand.
In case you are feeling a trifle bewildered, I should explain that I am talking about the U3A
- or University of the Third Age to give our august organisation its full name. This morning was the quarterly Group Leaders Meeting in a church hall just round the corner from where we meet for choir. I had told the Leader of Leaders (that’s my name
for her, she would be much too modest to accept such a title) that I would attend if I possibly could, it being difficult to know, until the day itself, what Mr B’s requirements of me might be. I was, however, hoping I would get there if only because
it would mean my friend Sue and I (who jointly convene / lead / muddle through the Singing for Pleasure Choir) would have an opportunity for a bit of a chinwag. Since we took over convening / leading / muddling through, we haven’t had much time for a
natter each Friday morning before we are called to order by our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, because Sue is fully occupied collecting everyone’s fifty pence pieces while I am wafting around trying to speak to as many people as possible to gather
opinions on “how it’s going.”
I arrived first at this morning’s meeting where the Coordinator of New Groups was setting up a projector
and screen so that he could take us through a short presentation on the Worthing U3A website. It was rather amusing (well, I admit, I am easily amused) watching people arrive, sign in, take a seat - and then hurriedly move when they realised their head was
going to be slam bang in the middle of the presentation. After several false starts, the CONG as I shall call him to differentiate him from the Leader of Leaders - or LOL - whose actual title is the Coordinator of Current Groups - or COCG: I do hope you are
keeping up?) decided to dispense with the screen and to project his presentation onto the white wall.
We had a bit of childish fun, fashioning shadow figures
like rabbits and swans on the wall until CONG got his act - and his presentation - together. When you enter your Third Age, it is fine to be childish once in a while as it makes you feel young again. We didn’t like to be churlish and point out that,
because the wall on which the presentation was to be projected was not a flat wall but one with a kind of built in alcove, the presentation was split over two walls, giving it a slightly lopsided appearance. It all added, I reckoned, to the incomprehensibility
of certain aspects of the new website.
We had the usual discussion about the fact that so many of our members don’t own computers, communicate by email and
would never, but never, travel on anything as stickily tricky as the World Wide Web. As always this discussion was inconclusive apart from a general agreement that these members needed Special Consideration and that it would be up to each group leader to tackle
the problem in his or her own way. I know that if I raise the subject at our Nomination Whist Group when it meets next, everyone will immediately start shuffling the playing cards and suggesting we should start playing the first game if we want to finish on
time for those who need to catch a bus home.
After an hour of business, we stopped for tea, coffee and biscuits. I decided to avail myself of refreshments
but then to excuse myself from the rest of the meeting, having been away from Mr B for long enough. I knew I could rely on Sue to update me on anything vitally important I might miss. Somehow we had found ourselves offering to speak at a New Members Meeting
in November about the joys of the Singing for Pleasure Choir. These meetings of new members are particularly important, COCG and CONG assured us, because some of those new members might well become future group leaders.
Think of all the fun ahead of them!