Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Mouse that Roared
I went to the meeting about the proposed airport site this week. We all gathered together in the village hall, discussing the torrential rain and how badly our vegetable patches were growing. People were milling about, drifting in and out, finding seats, greeting and gossiping. By the time the Chair of the protest group stood up to make a presentation there were about 30 people present. He started off by saying that we all knew the details of the plans (obviously I hadn't read the letters properly so I didn't, but kept my head down) and he outlined the proposed luxury hotel and upmarket airfield plans. Wow! I started imagining myself having a hot stone massage in my lunch break after wangling a nice little job there, bliss...The lights dimmed and the powerpoint presentation started. We were plunged into Heart of Darkness territory with planes crashing near illegally planned runways, mangling children in the playgroup situated too close to the site and tortured, sleepless nights from the noise of the planes. I could almost hear the 4 horses of the Apocalypse clip-clopping past the village hall as he roused us into terror with his fighting talk.
'Speak up, I'm deaf and I can't hear you!' thundered an old lady in the front row with a neat grey bun and some fantastically expensive diamonds. At full volume he explained that the Committee had hired one of the top lawyers in the country who had previously worked on plans for a premiership football team's new site and 3 major airports. What! How had they bagged him? Was that level of expertise really necessary? He went on to explain that they didn't take the coffee offered on their visit to London because it would waste time and therefore about £500. I had to hand it him - the lawyer was taking the local council to pieces, I wouldn't want to be in their incompetent shoes. Somebody asked who was paying for it but was interrupted by 'Bun of Steel' bellowing 'I told you I was deaf Chairman PLEASE SPEAK UP!'. Chair meekly apologised and carried on outlining press plans. Husband of 'Bun of Steel' sporting his 'n' hers hearing aids interrupted proceedings by yelling 'Bugger the Darlington & Stockton Times, let's go straight for THE Times!' By this stage I had to feign a hayfever attack so as not to make enemies in the village.
(picture similar to 'Bun of Steel' but she wasn't smiling)
The Committee had scrutinised all planning applications on microfiche in local records and had uncovered a host of errors through painstaking commitment to the cause. I had to admire their dedication. No stone was unturned in their efforts to make their environment safer and better. Forget the drug Czars in London, Gordon Brown ought to enlist the help of some of these passionate, educated brilliant people who aren't scared of anybody to help solve some of this country's problems!