The chairman’s troubles

The chairman of the committee had sat on it since its inception. He could remember with clarity of thought the days when the meetings took place in the pub and the planning of the festival had been lubricated by pints and not cups of tepid tea. He was a keen believer in democracy and everyone having their say from a level playing field but over the years he had come to the realisation, and this perhaps coincided with the swapping over of pints for tea, that allowing every man and woman have their say just gave way to too much talking.

He had listened carefully and with some patience to Patrick Tobin’s debunking of the rumour around the cowpat competition that had taken place in Ballycotten and now he felt it was time to call the meeting to some order.

‘What we need’ he said ‘ What we need’ repeating the words to drive home the enthusiasm ‘What we need is a competition with some spice!’

There he said it. He sat back in his chair and waited for the debate.

Edith Towmey was first off the mark ‘It isn’t spice that we need. There is enough spice to be had in Bantry after 10.00 on a Friday evening. We don’t need any more spice here. What we need is something more in the way of family entertainment and not something that pertains to a loose bowelled bovine dropping its filth on the populace.’

The chairman sighed. Spice what was needed. Something to bring in the crowds and as for the family entertainment there was nothing the kids liked more than the right placed scatological cow. But he knew that the committee and the cups of tepid tea would be against whatever the benefits.

The talk turned to the cake tent and who would be manning which stall and the chairman let his mind wander.

The mackerel competition would still be the culmination of the weekend. There could be nothing to disturb that and there were clear lines and logic behind the enterprise. There were as many boats as the people could find but beyond that they were limited by the time, three hours, and the number of fish in the bay. It was all fixed and certain and at the end there were enough people to watch over the counting of the fish. Although, he reflected, there always the possibility of bucket or two of fish being slipped under the covers of a boat early in the morning before the village was up. He put the thought to the back of his mind. There was too much purity in the competition for that.

He was troubled by the duck chase. Last years duck had almost had its neck broken by the eager young feck who had caught up it with on the rocks up from the water down by the bottom of the pub’s garden. The same duck had been the veteran of three previous festivals and it was generally agreed that it was fleet and adept at keeping out of the hands of the lads chasing after it in the water. The hope had been that it would be all okay for this year. But the chairman had heard it whispered that there was a timidity about it still and the fellow whose duck it was could not give him the cast iron guarantee that it would be ready in two weeks time.

If the duck was not ready then another would have to found and two weeks wasn’t much time to find a replacement.

The chairman paused in his thoughts to listen to what was being said around the table. The talk was still on cakes. Those men with imagination had been dulled with the tepid tea. He needed to rouse himself and bring the talk back to order and concentrate on the main theme. What spice could be brought in to replace the cowpat competition and what to do about a replacement duck.

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