Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Wherever two or three are gathered together... Notes from a Dovecot
..in conclaves, on committees, on boards, at formal meetings, the tendency to go agley is evident. People enter the meeting preoccupied by various other concerns, under time pressure. A camel is a horse designed by a committee, Issigonis is supposed to have said in 1958 or so, but it is not really a camel, more a menagerie: several creatures, each vivid, each with several heads, or alternatively no head, more chicken than camel.
I am not one of nature's natural committee-men though I have found myself on boards, and indeed chairing them at times. I am not natural because my mind is continually elsewhere, or trying to catch up with itself. I sometimes think it is more like a dovecot with birds leaving and entering at will. Going agley has been a fairly productive direction for them: agley is where they go.
I do, however, have an inordinate admiration for the properly systematic and conscientious. People like my father. I aim to be both, but conscience tends to prevail over system, and, without system, even conscience breaks down. The dovecot is, in effect, the system. It is not that I bear any close resemblance to a dove, and I am not even sure that it is doves rather than wasps or crows or pigs flying in and out ('Why should the aged eagle spread its wings?' cried Eliot in 'Ash Wednesday', briefly considering himself aged, though only thirty-nine at the time - not to mention the eagle) but the spatial arrangement is about right. A headful of rustlings and feathers might suggest a birdbrain, but I'm not entirely that. I am as capable as anyone of drawing a line of intellect from A to B and triangulating to C. And yet..
...And yet there remains the rustling and the flapping in and out: the boards and committees await developments. They are all heading off in their own various directions. I open my mouth and out fly a cloud of feathers with a bird of some description in the middle of it. Singing or squaking, it flies off. With a bit of luck it homes, carrying something like an olive leaf.