‘What the …’ Peter’s loud, slow, voice echoed over everything and everyone.
Everyone stopped talking. Silence fell across the room.
He chuckled to himself: ‘I thought that would work’.
It did, and everyone turned to look at him. 23 pairs of eyes turned on him as he stood on the bench at the side of the hall.
‘Yes’, he said in a clear but quicker voice, ‘what the heck are we going to do about the grass verges in our village? Three times I have called the council – and three times they have said they will be cutting it, but they never say when. I think it’s time we set to and did it ourselves. What do you think?’
Predictably a silence fell over the group followed by a burst of everyone talking. Peter let it run for a minute or two then called them to order.
‘Hands up all that think we should leave it to the council’.
13 hands were raised.
‘Hands up all those who think we should do it ourselves’.
He counted the raised hands. There were 17.
‘Ladies and gentlemen – there are 24 of us in this room. 13 said the Council should do the cutting and 17 said we should do it. I make that 30 voters. How come?’’
There was laughter at this. Bill Taylor put up a hand.
‘Some of us voted for both!’ There was laughter in the hall. ‘I reckon – we all reckoned – that the council should do it but, as we have seen, they haven’t. The village looks a mess so I suggest that we should do it – and properly‘.
There was a round of applause with two or three ‘hear hears’ as well.
Pete Sheldon stood up. ‘Why the heck should we do it. We pay our taxes for them to do the work. I don’t reckon that we should do the work as well.’
There was a ripple of applause but nowhere near what Bill had got.
It was Susie Williams that closed the discussion.
‘There are seven ladies here. Starting on this coming Saturday we will all begin cutting the grass in question. If any gentlemen wish to join us they will be very welcome. If they don’t we’ll do it all ourselves’.
There was laughter across the room with more than one voice calling ‘We’re with you Susie’.
Susie continued – ‘At 8.00 a.m. we shall meet at the post-box on the green and work out from there’.
She sat down to loud applause.
At eight o’clock on Saturday morning virtually all – 20 to be precise – from the meeting were there. There were also five individuals of the younger generation. At least two did not seem to be keen but … you never know. They each had brought with them something to cut shrubs and, of course, some lunch.
Peter organised them into five groups of four and handed each group a barrow and a rake. He had also brought three motor-mowers with him.
It was amazing how quickly the grass got cut and loaded into the barrows.
Peter had also arranged for a friend of his to bring his tip-up truck.
It was surprising just how quickly the overgrown grass verges disappeared and bright fresh, green, short grass took its place.
Peter kept an eye on all five groups and as soon as each group finished their patch he moved them on to the next. His wife Jane and Helen their daughter brought round tea, coffee and buns of all kinds for the team.
By 5 o’clock Peter announced that there were just two bits left to deal with and they would do that tomorrow morning – hopefully completing this before church.
It was early on Tuesday morning as he drove down the road that he saw the council lorry parked up near the Green. He stopped and went over to speak to them. They spoke first!
‘Where’s the bloody grass and that that you’ve been moaning about?
Peter politely told them.
‘You’ve what? You’ve wasted our time and council time. You’ll be hearing about this.’
‘I don’t think so’, Peter politely replied. ‘I’ve just told our story to the local paper. You’ll be able to read about it on Friday. I think you’ll see some pictures as well. Unfortunately you won’t be in them but your counsellor will be.
Perhaps he’ll have a few words with your boss – and he, of course, might want a chat with you’ added Peter as he got into his car and headed off to a Council Committee Meeting.