Monday, 10 June 2013

The choice to stop

Well, it's been a kind of an addiction for three years!

When you are secretary of an organisation that puts on twelve (and occasionally more) films a year plus maybe four live entertainments (though these latter have been admirably and very competently managed by Jackie), the responsibilities are in the back of your mind day in, day out — and all too often in the front of your mind too.

This evening I walked out of the ChOC film after about twenty minutes. Argo seemed to be about Americans shouting at each other, but as I could hardly read the captions (possibly due to my tired eyes) and certainly couldn't follow most of the dialogue without subtitles, I really couldn't tell for sure. Suddenly I realised: I simply did not have to be here! I'd spent two hours helping with the setting up and would be back later for 45 minutes of chair stacking, floor mopping, loo cleaning, screen dismantling (that screen is seriously hard work to put up, take down and cart around: in its case it is too heavy for one person to carry but I have to get it in and out of the car), and helping trundle the kit out to Steve's car. (There are two speakers, each in its box: I can just, but only just, carry each one on its own.) Watching a film I didn't want to see for two hours in the middle of all that just seemed unnecessary!

Talking about ChOC to friends is gradually crystallising my view. I think I'm burned out. I'm also irritated and frustrated. Which is not a good way to be, and it's no one's fault but mine. Retiring will be good for me, but good for ChOC too.

Being secretary is a particular kind of job. The buck always stops with me. Someone can't help this week? They know they are supposed to find their own replacement but no one ever does: they just email me and leave me to sort it. A publicity breakdown? That's because I've missed a deadline: remember to write monthly items for The Leaflet and the quarterly report for the Chronicle. Can we book such and such a film for September? I have to look up when is the earliest we can screen it and who holds the rights, and remember to book it once we've decided. Don't forget to buy the next DVD in time or there won't be a film show at all! Update the ChOC and Charlbury websites. Get out our monthly pre-film reminders to members. Maintain the 300-strong members' email list. Get the next posters designed and printed in time and put them up (oh yes, and laminate them.) And so on. Month after month. 

Sitting here at home while Argo plays on noisily in the Memorial Hall, I look out at the light slowly fading over the cool and now calm garden. The colours are less vibrant but no less beautiful in the less assertive light. The wind has fallen and after several gusty days the trees and their leaves have achieved a visible peace. This is more true to life than (almost) any film. I'm looking forward to walking back to the hall now and breathing in the calm and relaxing air outside. I just hope the forty-odd people in there are enjoying the film as much as I'm enjoying not being there. 

I only hear later than four other people walked out after me, and are to be offered refunds…

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