Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Mr Bean and the Delegate List

He's organising the meeting. This involves a highly complex number of tasks including collation and handing out of papers to all attendees, name labels for all attendees, arrangement of refreshments. He has a blue box. Out of the blue box he pulls a stack of photocopies. The Chair of the meeting asks, "have you organised the name badges?"
"I've got to do this first"
"No, the name badges are really important we need them," replies chair.
"I can't do everything at..."
"I'm happy to hand out papers if you will organise the name badges," offers chair. Chair hands out papers. This has messed up his mental plan of what he has to do and in which order. He busies himself with card inserts, sticky labels and clip-on plastic name-badge holders. He's shaking nervously, has a label stuck on the end of one finger, while trying to get a card insert into the badge holder. Once he has achieved this he slams the finished badge down on the table.

I collect my badge from the designated place, it is in the holder back to front so when I clip it on my jacket it faces inwards rather than out and the bottom edge is ripped across rather than cut.

So the meeting begins. He is now taking the minutes. He does this by writing furiously on his pad of paper holding the pen in a manner that is not quite right and his knuckles are white with the pressing. He also sets up a tape recorder to record the meeting. This requires much fidgeting. Batteries being changed. Checking that the tape is winding. Checking for tape to run out. Changing the tape direction. Making sure the microphone is pointing at the appropriate person (i.e. the one who is talking - this becomes more and more complicated as the discussion warms up). After a while when everything seems to be sorted he stares vacantly into space, his face resting on one hand, until Chair asks him to ensure that something is minuted at which he holds up the tape machine and busies himself with it again.

At the end I overhear him moaning to another attendee about the terrible refreshments, "its very mediocre coffee - nescafe". The other attendee complains about the lack of biscuits. "Oh I don't do biscuits," says he. Methinks he is forgetting the reason most people attend afternoon meetings - to get a better quality of biscuit than at the office.

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