... Dante's Nine Circles of Hell likes to be viewed in a positive way by the general public at large and consequently has a Division of Daemons who arrange voluntary activities out in the community. At this point, as an aside, I would love to see a size comparison of the Voluntary Division Daemons and the Tax Division Daemons as, I am sure we would all know which one was the larger team.* Getting back on track, today Tigger and I had, for one day only, arranged a small, two venue tour. Yep, most of the band were scattered to the distant horizons but today we were back on the road as a two man ensemble for we had taken a proverbial step forward and volunteered for one of this year's community programmes.
After a many weeks of waiting and a number of frustratingly unanswered e-mails with less than sparkling individuals I had managed to coordinate and schedule the voluntary activities for today. ** As a result we found ourselves trundling up to the North, Eastern Districts of the fine and glamorous city of Birmingham to install some Nursery equipment at two Children's Day Care Centres.
It was great to be back in Tigger's company and I think we both thought that it had been far too long since we had got stuck in to a jar of hunny together. They may not have been any profit in today's activities but we were both fairly sure that it was likely to be sticky in some areas.
We arrived at the first venue and introduced ourselves at the reception. Whilst our welcome was not exactly frosty, we were most certainly not greeted with any enthusiasm and were just pointed at a huge cardboard box and then ignored. The job was not particularly arduous and entailed assembling large brightly coloured pieces of plastic and strapping in some cheap technology to ensure that it was a) bloody noisy and b) had lots of fast moving, anthropomorphic monstrosities to entertain the little
As neither of us had done anything like this before there was much head scratching and consultation of instructions and like all proper workmen we had an expectation of a steady stream of tea and coffee. This was thirsty work and whilst the paying guests appeared to by nicely catered for, receiving milk and snacks on a regular basis, Tigger and I were left gasping and spitting feathers. During the two hours we were there not one drink was offered and when we did need to talk to the Nursery staff to ask vital questions like where are the the other boxes? and is there someone we can just talk through what we have done? we were given a less than effusive response... Miserable Sods.
It was then time for a true workmen's lunch, taken in the cab of the Defender, looking out across the fine vistas of the local Civic Centre. Refreshed and re-energised we drove over to our next venue. Our reception there was as cheese is to chalk and we were warmly greeted, instantly offered hot beverages and settled in to our working area. Whenever anyone walked past we were chatted with and one of their members of staff had actually done a good deal of the assembly prior to our arrival. As a result we were done and dusted in an hour and were trundling back towards The Pile before two o'clock in the afternoon.
It was an enjoyable day as a) there was actually a physical product as a result of our efforts b) the work had been done as a team and c) once the first unit had been assembled we knew what we were doing and the work could be progressed without the constant battle and confusion that is at the very core of what we normally do.
Oh, and if you are looking for a Nursery in the vicinity of Birmingham Airport I know which one I would recommend.
---* One would like to think that these two Divisions are rarely ever involved with each other but the cynic in me would think that they are, in fact, quite closely connected.
** I did say that there were similarities