Sacred and profane: reminiscences of a former chaplaincy committee secretary

The other day, whilst clearing out some old boxes of stuff I should have thrown away years ago, I came across an unexpected gem. Amongst all the official and unofficial roles I’ve held in my life so far, perhaps the most inconsequential and banal has been Secretary of my college chaplaincy while I was a student at Durham. Pretty much my sole duty was to take minutes at the fortnightly committee meetings, whilst scoffing large numbers of free sandwiches and red wine.

I’m not ashamed to say that I did not take the role terribly seriously and decided my real duty was to provide a mildly entertaining commentary on these otherwise rather dreary meetings. The following will almost certainly only be funny to those who were there (and even then, that’s probably a bit of a stretch), but nonetheless, here are some highlights from my book of minutes, because they made me chuckle at least (with apologies to all those I needlessly insult).

***

30/10/08

Item 1: Remembrance Sunday

  • 10.45, poppies, bugler, no Gloria.
  • No flowers because RC (chapel warden) is useless!

Item 2: DVD group

  • Disappointing turnout.
  • Uncomfortable conversations about love.

Item 3: Socials

  • EK (social secretary) needs to learn how to send emails.

Item 4: Carol service

  • Buy some bigger candles!

13/11/08

General comments:

  • GH (Treasurer) can’t write cheques.
  • RR (secretary – ie. me) can’t write property (sic).

Item 1: Remembrance

  • Chappers (aka the college chaplain) is pleased, so all good.
  • Sopranos need to stop being terrified about processing.

Item 2: [sadly illegible]

  • No one cares. At all. Kill me now.
  • I can’t believe we are really discussing this.
  • Status quo wins.

Item 3: St Hild’s Day

  • An altar will be moved at some point by somebody.
  • Robes!
  • Tea is NOT a meal.

Item 4: DVD group

  • JC (director of music) turned up pissed. JL (chaplain) blames us.

Item 5: Socials

  • York is to be a ‘sober social’. Ergo, I’m not going.
  • EK still can’t send emails, BUT fear not because ST (publicity officer) is brilliant!

Item 6: Publicity

  • We’ve had some emails – well done ST!
  • Accents are funny! FACT!
  • Fliers on walls in toilets. Us and the phone sex hotlines – well done again ST.

Item 7: Christmas formal

  • It’s my fault apparently.
  • We need a balanced choir – preferably another tenor in case I get too pissed to sing harmony.

26/11/08

Item 1: Carol service

  • Someone needs to knick Xmas tree.
  • Rhetorical questions do not have answers.

Item 2: DVD group

  • DVD group is being stopped.

Item 3: Tour

  • Tour sub-committee should get a move on.
  • RR would rather not be secretary of another bloody committee.

Item 4: Publicity

  • Let’s spy on Christchurch people.
  • ST can decide for himself how many emails to send out.

Miscellaneous:

  • JC is useless.
  • I’m not wasting my printer credits on printing an agenda for these meetings.

***

Sadly at this point, following the clearly Herculean effort of having not only attended my first three committee meetings but also jotted down these bon mots, my minutes tail off. It’s fair to say my prospects of becoming the next Alan Clark are rather slim, but I hope you get a little of the flavour of the surreal world of a college chaplaincy committee – something like a cross between Rev and The Thick of It. Perhaps it’s time to have a go at writing a sitcom. On second thoughts, perhaps not.

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