Committee members from amateur music associations will know what I am getting at when I say that during meetings there eventually comes a time when, given the option of prolonging the current discussion about interval refreshments or gnawing off your own foot, you would cheerfully opt for the latter. Only rarely do real gems lighten up the proceedings, so a recent event is worth recording.
When our much loved Musical Director decided to lay down his baton, the committee, more in hope than expectation, put out an advertisement for a successor. To our gratified surprise, the applications came pouring in; so much so that an extraordinary meeting had to be called to create a short-list. The problem facing us was that all the applicants were very good (doubly surprising and gratifying). Indeed one candidate was so well qualified that his/her expansive application could not be accommodated on the specified two sheets of A4, despite recourse to a microscopic font. Page 3 spilled over to page 4 where, with the help of a strong pair of reading glasses, one committee member detected that the applicant had helpfully included a number of unsolicited references testifying to his/her singular musical prowess. Screwing up his eyes and holding sheet 4 to the light, another member commented that actually 2 of the 3 referees appeared to be dead. After a suitably respectful pause a third committee member (who shall remain nameless) said in her lilting Belfast accent “Well, I say, if your referees are dead, you are up a gum tree”.
This was the insight we so urgently needed. With a collective sense of relief we moved on to the next application.