Village Day - it never ends!
What is it about Brookmans Park Village Day! A couple of weeks after the event, when most people would rather forget about stalls and bunting for another year, a note drops through the letterbox asking for volunteers for Village Day 2001.
OK, maybe it would be a good idea to plan early, but isn't this a bit like buying next year's Christmas presents in the January sales?
This year the hard-working team of volunteers has been hard at it, grafting flat out for the last two months and, although it might do loads for community spirit and the Brookmans Park School PTA coffers, it doesn't do a lot for family life.
The last few weekends were particularly hard, dragging out the old stalls, giving them a fresh lick of paint, building new stalls and planning the layout of the arena. Visits to elderly relatives and old pals had to be put on hold. There can be no social life in the build up to Village Day.
And the PTA shed, it's like the Tardis from Dr Who. It looks so small and yet every inch is packed with stuff that looks like junk stashed away ready for a trip to the tip. But that junk, tarted up and assembled, is the foundation for the annual event that is Brookmans Park Village Day.
But its not really is it. It is the people, the mums and dads who set aside valuable personal time to make the event happen.
And why do we do it? Yes, it raises much needed cash. Something like £5,500 this year, which is £1,500 up on 1999. But if you stopped to work it out, all the man and woman hours spent working at weekends, at night, sitting in committees, writing content for the magazine and traipsing round local shops trying to secure sponsorship money, well quite frankly is it worth it?
The answer has to be a resounding 'yes', and why? Well, because a community like Brookmans Park needs a focal point, a reason to meet, a reason to raise money, a reason to end up with a curry at the Raj, sandwiched between two visits to the Brookmans as the sun sets on Village Day 2000.
And those same people bump into each other in shops, waiting for trains, picking up their kids from school. They may have worked together on the candyfloss stall, or served burgers. They might have bought a ticket from one another at the tombola - whatever; there is a familiarity that might not have existed before Village Day.
So it is not really the money raised and nor is it the hours spent discussing the arrangements in the weeks and months leading up to Village Day that matters, it is preserving a piece of Village life that, without such a community spirit, might come to an end.
As the day drew near this year a few people were heard saying that it was all too much, that next year they would do less, that someone else could do the publicity, lift the tables and stalls, set up the bunting, raise the sponsorship and serve the cream teas.
But they all know that although new people will come along and join in they will still be needed and will probably, after a good night's sleep, want to be involved.
But whatever was thought the morning after the day before, no one, surely no one, could have imagined that someone had already written a leaflet, had it printed on pink and light blue notepaper and arranged for it to be delivered door to day inviting people to volunteer for the whole thing again in 51 weeks time.
But someone did and that spirit has already ensured that Village Day 2001 will be another resounding success.
July 6, 2000