Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Civic duty

Ah yes. We have reached that age. And it's all going to go downhill from here.

Let me back up and explain.

As a younger person with a sky-rocketing executive job, there isn't much time to think about the larger community. After all, there are rungs of career ladders to climb, business travel to enjoy and post work drinks to consume.

Then you have children and you start to get sucked into things that you didn't even know existed. Like toddler groups. Who need people to run them. Your role of sleep-deprived attendee making banal conversation about the colour of poo starts to take on a more substantial mantle as you get suckered into becoming assistant toy packer-away person, then co-chair and then chair. 

When you finally manage to sucker someone else into taking on the job, your children head off to pre-school and kazam! You innocently think joining the committee might be a good way to meet the other mums and before you know it, you're running the pre-school lucky dip stall at the village fete and helping arrange 70s style discos. It's all good fun though and after all, it will help buy some new mats for the little cherubs to sit on.

Before you know it, your little darling has entered the realms of big school. All new parents are of course invited to attend the PTA meetings, and being a stupid concerned individual, you once again fall for the honey trap of thinking it's a friendly thing to do. You even convince yourself that they may serve wine at PTA meetings. (They don't).

In the blink of an eye you go from being a bog standard PTA member to co-fund-raising organiser person, rustling up bingo prizes and stringing up bunting at barn dances. 

At this point, most of this 'social involvement' seems to land squarely on the women's shoulders. Men, somehow manage to keep their heads well below the line of fire. 

Until their wives, fed up of the inequality of it all, force suggest they might want to get involved. And so they do. They join the local cricket club and spend every Sunday playing cricket. All. Day. Sure he offers to coach the kids occasionally but mainly it's all about him and the fun he's having playing cricket for the first time since his uni days.

That's how it was in our house, until the cricket club asked me if I'd like to be treasurer. Oh how I laughed and chortled and frankly lay on the floor clutching my sides trying to picture it (accounts and I don't really see eye to eye). Not to mention that it was slightly unfair that my husband was going to get to play while I get to do the work. So I said no. Well done me. And my husband, deeply embarrassed by his cackling wife swiftly volunteered himself for the job.

But it doesn't end there. No sirree bob. Word got out that a new Parish counsellor was needed for our village. Husband, enjoying his new social responsibility cloak, put himself forward. 

I'm now proud to say that not only is he treasurer of the cricket club and a parish counsellor, but he's also  (and you have to say this in a nasal jobsworth type voice) 'the secretary of the allotment sub-committee'. Oh how the evenings fly by.

But wait, that's not all. A 'friend' has just volunteered my services to do some marketing for the school, while another has become chief fund-raiser for the village hall and has every intention of roping me in. 

Just when I thought we could comfortably sit back and polish our civic duty halos, I get a call. Someone has suggested that I might make the perfect village rep for a new initiative to fight Grundon from putting up a huge incinerator in our local area, an area of outstanding natural beauty (you can read about it here if you like - might as well start doing my new job now). So I shall now be leafleting the village and attending meetings to find out how we might thwart this plan going ahead. I feel I might wear a special super hero cape for these meetings. With a mask. And possibly carry a sword made of foam.

And that is how we find ourselves. I am going to make us some business cards. His will read:

Cricket Club Treasurer
Parish Counsellor
Allotment Sub-committee secretary

Mine will read:

PTA Fund-raising second in command
Village Hall fund-raising second assistant
Village representative for the fight against giant smelly incinerator.

We have made the mistake of putting ourselves forward. We shall now spend the remainder of our lives trying to undo this error but no doubt becoming ensnared in the heady world of WI bake off judging, giant marrow contest measuring and church bazaar organisers. Just you wait and see if we don't.


Jenny Rudd said...

I think that's my favourite post you have written

Country Mom said...

It is now me rolling on the floor, holding my sides....there is only one thing for it...
- Turn up to the next couple of PTA meetings a few sheets to the wind
- Make sure a couple of x-rated toys land up in the village fete prizes (rampant rabbit anyone?)
- Sadly declare your shareholdings in the company planning to build the incinerator.

That should leave you free to watch his nibs play cricket!

nappy valley girl said...

I agree with Jenny, hilarious post.
I got way too sucked into community things last year: have taken a step back now. These PTA people, they see you coming. I'm trying to keep a low profile.

Anonymous said...

It's a total bummer. I spend most of my time now trying to extricate myself from such things. No one seems to agree that there should be a limit to the time I spend not doing what I am unpaid to do, ie raise my kids and run my home. Grr.

Kirstin said...

No wine at parent teacher meetings??!!! That's the only way to get through the ghastly things... and fights are sooo much more colourful fuelled by some cheap vino!