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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Community Centre

George and Mavis were updating the whiteboard on which room bookings for the community centre were listed. The vast array of clubs, societies and other activities displayed upon it was a testimony to the vibrancy of village life. There was something for every interest.

‘From now on, we can’t have the cake making class at the same time as the Slimming World meeting,’ concluded Mavis. ‘The smell of baking drifts from the kitchen into the hall where the simmers meet. Last week, one slimmer couldn’t take it any more. She ran out of the meeting and, before anyone could stop her, she’d eaten an entire chocolate gateaux that had been left to cool.’

‘People don’t realise how difficult it is to schedule all these activities,’ responded George. ‘I didn’t think there’d be a problem in having that wine tasting in the main hall while Alcoholics Anonymous met in the meeting room.’

‘That was unfortunate,’ agreed Mavis. ‘We lost a regular booking there, after everyone in the meeting room moved to the main hall, finished off the wine and voted to disband the AA group.’

‘It was a great party, though,’ recalled George.

Mavis relocated the slimming group to follow Tai Chi on Monday. ‘Which other activities have we got to fit into the programme, next week?’ she asked.

George looked through the pile of booking requests. ‘There’s the Carnivorous Reptile Health Clinic,’ he replied.

‘They could use the meeting room on Tuesday at 2.00 pm,’ said Mavis. ‘Opps, no they can’t,’ she corrected herself on further inspection of the whiteboard. ‘The children’s Hamster, Gerbil and Guinea pig Show is on in the main hall at that time. Better to be safe than sorry.’

‘Oh yes,’ remembered George, ‘that’s why we didn't book the Cat Protection League’s grooming demonstrations into the meeting room, then.’

‘I moved the cats' session to be at the same time as the UROC, whatever that is,’ confirmed Mavis.

‘I think it stands for “Untrained Rottweiler Obedience Class”,’ George ventured.

‘Shit,’ responded Mavis, reaching for the whiteboard eraser. ‘What’s “Yew”?’ she asked, noting the word in the Wednesday 5.00 pm slot.

‘It’s the Woodland Trust,’ said George. ‘They’re having a talk on the yew tree.’

‘Isn’t the Amateur Dramatic Society rehearsing the pantomime on Wednesday?’ asked Mavis.

‘Yes, we must write that on the whiteboard,’ recalled George, ‘but that’s at 3.00 pm, so it’s behind yew.’

‘Oh no it isn’t,’ asserted Mavis, remembering that pantomime rehearsals were always in the evening.

‘Oh yes it is,’ countered George. ‘They’ve got an early rehearsal next week.’

‘The Savings and Investments Group want to meet on Thursday morning,’ said George, reading their booking request. ‘That doesn’t clash with the Anti-capitalist Protest Group again, does it?’

‘The Anti-capitalists don’t meet here any more since that dispute about room hire charges,’ said Mavis. ‘They said we were agents of a corrupt and oppressive economic system, and that they were victims of the iniquitous, structural inequalities of our fiscal policies.’

‘What was that about?’ George enquired.

‘They objected to being charged 6.00 an hour,’ clarified Mavis, ‘when the Housebound Pensioners’ Luncheon Club only pays 5.50.’

George and Mavis continued to fill gaps on the whiteboard.

‘Just two slots left next week, both at 10.00 am on Saturday,’ observed George, finally, ‘and, by coincidence, there are exactly two booking requests left!’

Mavis stood next to the whiteboard, pen poised over the remaining vacant slots. ‘Who are those for?’ she asked.

‘There’s the Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Creationist Group and . . .’ George picked up the final form, ‘the Richard Dawkins Appreciation Society.’

George and Mavis looked at each other and sighed.

‘It’s taken two hours to schedule all these activities to avoid conflicts,’ said Mavis. ‘I’m not altering it all. It’s like a rubix cube, if we change one booking, we’ll have to change all the rest to make it work again.’

‘We’ll just have to leave those last two bookings at the same time,’ concluded George.

Mavis stepped back and surveyed the whiteboard. ‘It’ll be OK,’ she said, thoughtfully. ‘If the worst comes to the worst, the booking afterwards is a Red Cross first aid refresher, and the one after that is the Furniture Restoration Group.