Whew! Glad it’s Friday. Lots of blogging time next week, though.
Last night was full Council. It’s the most formal of all Council meetings and tends to last a couple of hours at least – last night it was 2 and a half hours. The Committee Administrator (traditionally the Democratic Services Manager – which is what I is) sits rather grandly on the raised dias, alongside the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, The Chief Executive MBE and the Head of Democratic and Legal Services (my boss) and the Mayor’s Chaplain, who says prayers at the start of the meeting.
Picture it – the Council Chamber with sensitive sound system and shiny wooden panelled walls, 36 councillors, about 40 members of the public, three Deputy Chief Executives and around a dozen senior officers all staring expectedly at the raised dias where moi sits rather grandly (not forgetting name badge – see previous post). We had two journalists there too – because it was the meeting where the Council Tax was set.
Do you all remember when your mum used to say “have you got your hanky?” whenever you went anywhere important, or left in the morning? Well it’s taken me nearly fifty years to realise it’s actually quite good advice!
I went into the meeting without a sniffle or even a hint of a cold. After about half an hour my eyes started pricking and someone turned a tap on inside my head. I didn’t have a tissue, or a hanky, or even a jumper with long sleeves.
I kept sniffing to keep the runny nose at bay. After two not very ladylike sniffs, picked up by sound system, I got a dirty look from the Chief Executive MBE. I then tried to pinch my nose so it didn’t run and got a funny look from the Mayor’s Chaplain, who was sitting beside me. After a few seconds he sniffed his armpit, pretending to wipe his brow with the back of his hand.
The pressure was building behind my pinched nose. Then, horror of horrors, they took a vote.
I let go of my nose and it dripped on my minute book. There was an ill-disguised snigger from one of the Deputy Chief Executives who is actually quite human and funny. He caught my eye and grinned as he delved in his pocket, looking for a tissue for me.
I wiped my nose on the back of my hand and counted the votes with the other hand.
My boss threw me an exasperated frown which spoke volumes. (He denied it this morning.)
I had a black jumper on with three-quarter length sleeves. I had an idea. If I pulled one sleeve down my arm far enough I could surreptitiously wipe my nose on the sleeve. I know this sounds disgusting but I was desperate. I’d pulled the sleeve down in readiness, but hadn’t actually wiped my nose on it, when Cliff, the Mayor’s driver caught my eye. He was standing at the door, on duty. He raised his eyebrows and pointed to his shoulder. I looked at my shoulder. Oh No! There it was in all it’s glory – a bright purple bra-strap, made even more vivid by the pale skin on my shoulder. Where I’d pulled my sleeve down it had also delectably exposed my shoulder.
I decided I’d just have to sniff at a strategic place, such as when councillors laughed or raised their voices. This usually happens quite a lot at Council meetings. It didn’t last night. I knew I’d just got to sniff, so I tried to do it quietly – I honestly did. The thing was there was so much runny snot in my nose it made me choke – very loudly into the microphone.
Another black look from my boss followed by a deadly one from Chief Executive MBE.
I whispered to the Chaplain. “Have you got a tissue I could borrow?” He shook his head sympathetically.
I sniffed and dripped and choked all through the meeting. I made a quick getaway at the end and shot upstairs to my office where I had a pack of tissues in my drawer.
Cliff came to find me this morning. “Your purple bra-strap gave me quite a turn,” he said. And half of Kettering, I thought!
Note to self: always take tissues to meetings from now on.
(I now have a poorly cold)