YARNING ABOUT OLD times, recently, a friend mentioned his long-gone days in the local Boy Scouts. Every year, his troop held a five-a-side football tournament. They’d done it for decades and it took loads of organising. It was expensive. It meant extra practice. The two parents in charge every year were bossy and unpopular, but everybody had to do what they said. My mate confessed he used to feign injury to get out of it.
One year, everything went wrong in the build-up to the tournament. There was an emergency meeting, during which it became clear that, apart from two adults, nobody in the troop, or their parents, liked five-a-side football. Plainly, at one time, people had done, but the group’s tastes had changed.
They’d carried on staging the tournament because it was the done thing. Now someone suggested a camping expedition instead. The troop decided to give it a try. “I can’t remember how that went,” said my friend, “but when I realised I wouldn’t have to play five-a-side again, it was the happiest day of my life. I remember that all right.” How much of our time do we spend doing neither what we like nor what we ought? Two articles in this week’s issue put that question into my head.
On page 10, Fred Wright sketches a portrait of Cornwall BS. Here, you feel, is a group of fanciers who enjoy the same things and therefore get together to do more of them. Seems obvious, I agree, yet aren’t some clubs, to some extent, the slaves of their own events calendar?
On page 5, regular columnist Dennis Webster considers two types of club: one run by a tightly knit, decisive committee, and the other where every member has a say and lends a hand. F
or Dennis, the choice between the two is a matter of heart v head, and in practice large committees are less likely to opt for radical change if it’s needed. Still, the most radical change any club needs to make is to find out what its members enjoy and, if necessary, do more of it. That will come most naturally to smaller groups, of course, who can meet in house or pub and happily discuss the things that really matter to them.
A circle of friends: that’s the essence of a club, it seems to me. What do you reckon? Have a great week!