The third of our post-apocalyptic AGMs took place as planned last Saturday. And what an AGM it turned out to be...

(Incidentally, a number of intrepid - not to say foolhardy - folk have dared to raise their heads above the parapet to point out to me that AGMs, by definition, should occur only once a year. I am not stupid enough not to see that a case can, indeed, be made for such a thing. AGM is, after all, an abbreviated form of Annual General Meeting and built-in to that phrase is the word Annual which, I have been led to understand, means 'once a year'.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, is it? Regular truckshunters will be aware that one of the many bees buzzing around in my bonnet (not that I’ve worn any such thing for many years) is the malleable and ductile qualities of the English language; sometimes these are manifest in the way it is pronounced (woe/shoe; limb/climb; go/do) and sometimes in the way that some words change their meaning over time, almost by popular demand. Thus decimate originally meant 'to reduce BY a tenth' and not 'TO a tenth'; silly once meant 'blessed by God'; and a deer was once any animal at all and not just a deer.

In the same way, I believe that it’s time for abbreviations to join the huge throng of unpredictabilities that bedevil our native tongue and make it so damnably difficult for Johnny Foreigner to learn. After all, if DVD can be a pure invention and not mean anything at all, if the S of Harry S Truman can stand for absolutely nothing - then the meaning of AGM can be altered at the whim of whoever happens to be using it. In this case, me.

Thus, from now on, AGMs can take place as often as the people involved in them want them to.

End of story...

Now where was i?)

Saturday was, of course, the first day of Spring and Mother Nature was benevolent enough to give us a really lovely day to mark it with. When I arrived in Sunderland the sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm and there was a spring (if you pardon the pun) in my step. Yes, even in Sunderland.

I got my coffee in the Winter Gardens cafe, went out onto the south-facing terrace and took out my paper in the half-expectation that no truckshunters would bother to turn up.

How could I have been so wrong? Hildie turned up. And Vivienne. And...

J Arthur Smallpiece turned up too.

Yes, I know. J Arthur Smallpiece.

He actually turned up on Saturday afternoon in Sunderland. He really exists. He was not, after all, a figment of our collective imagination. No-one who lives in Jesmond and has a dog called Polly can be entirely imaginary. And the mystery man who sent me those astonishingly literate and complex poems which so often reduced me to tears of laughter finally revealed himself and, in so doing, put me out of my misery. Because, joking apart, one of my biggest regrets on the day I left the BBC in January was that I would never find out who J Arthur Smallpiece was.

Well now I know. And so do you; that’s him up there.

Hello Gerry and welcome to the truckshunter fold.

Like I said before, it turned out to be quite an afternoon. I don’t think either Hildie or Vivienne or I have got over the revelation yet!

It’s inspired us, though, to make the next AGM even specialler. It’s going to take place at 1100 on Wednesday 22 April at Birkheads Nursery and Secret Garden, which is near Sunniside and the Tanfield Railway.

More about that nearer the time. For the present, put it in your diary and try very hard to make arrangements to be there!!!

Incidentally, the monument that Vivienne and Hildie are standing next to is the memorial to the Victoria Hall 'Calamity' (as the inscription calls it) which took place nearby in June 1883 and in which 183 children died. We've mentioned it on The Nightshift, and on the Blue Bus programme before it - many times.

Speaking of the vagaries of the English language...I got involved in another of my infernal arguments the other day and have undertaken to accept your arbitration decision as final. So - what is the difference between jealousy and envy????

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Sid said...

That must have been an AGM and a half. A mystery solved in such a surprising way.
A note is in my diary for the 22nd, I can hardly wait.
Do they do cheese scones I wonder...

Vivienne said...

Hi Ian,

I'm still in shock at meeting our famous Poet Laureate. I'm sure our fellow Truckshunters must be feeling rather 'envious' of our meeting, but to say they are 'jealous' is probably an exaggeration, and too negative a response. That's my interpretation of envy and jealousy!

Have you managed to scan J Artur Smallpiece's latest poem yet? It will be a treat for everyone if you are able to post it on Truckshunters.

I think they do cheese scones Sid, but I've been told by a friend today that Gibside's are the best in this area.

Hildie said...

As Ian has told you, it was truly awesome to find out at the AGM that J. Arthur Smallpiece really does exist! We were flabbergasted and dumbfounded .... I was SO pleased for Ian that the mystery was solved at last. At the time, though, it didn't feel like real life ... it was more the stuff of fiction. Yet, there he was - in the flesh, real as real can be, calm as a cucumber, his dog by his side, and a poem in his hand! I'm still bowled over with the shock.
He was only a stone's throw away from the Pink Palace all this time,
now can you believe it?!!!

Kev said...

Hello fellow truckshunters,
Sorry I haven't been in touch recently but I've always kept track of your goings on.
My big regret is my inability to attend any of the AGMs - mobility is not one of my great strengths.
I, like the rest of you, are relieved to know that the august personage of J. Artyur Smallpiece has made his presence known.
In answer to the difference between jealousy and envy -

The words stand for two different distinct emotions. In proper usage, jealousy is the fear of losing something that one possesses to another person (a loved one in the typical form), while envy is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself. Envy typically involves two people, and jealousy typically involves three people.

Hildie said...

Woo .... hi Kev, this is turning into a good week ! Your posting on the blog is another excellent turn of events. We HAVE missed you!
That's a nice, clear explanation for Ian.
I was going to suggest that in jealousy there is a lot of resentment of another person's success, or of their advantages.....
whereas envy involves some kind of reluctant respect of what another person has .
No wonder Ian's confused! To me there's a very fine line between the two.
Kev, come back soon!

Vivienne said...

Hi Kev,

I'm pleased you've finally begun to post Comments again. You've been away for some time. I think you stopped posting about the time I started!

I'm sure one of us could help out with transport, if you want to come to the next AGM. Birkheads Secret Gardens & Nursery is off the beaten track, but it's worth visiting.

Sid said...

When your best mate marries the girl of your dreams.

When she kisses him and his hair stands on end.

Hildie said...

So succinct, Sid! That certainly sums it up! Now, my nephew, Ross (who I dragged into this) thinks that jealousy is more to do with coveting an object or possession, whereas envy is more to do with wanting to be like another person.
Sid, thank you for the weather forecast for Saturday, Ross&Rachel's Wedding Day.
Maureen, there was a conversation on Saturday between Ian and
J. Arthur that you would have undoubtedly been involved in ... they discussed cathedrals, at length! I know that you are working your way through a list of cathedral visits and I just kept wishing you'd been there.

Maureen said...

Hi Kev, lovely to hear from you again as Hildie said, what a week! I wish I could have made it to the AGM but unfortunately I don't work in Sunderland Town Centre. Now how about J Arthur? I have to admit at first glance that I thught it was Ian in disguise! (I'd often wondered if it was your 'nom de plume' Ian until you requested so earnestly that he revealed himself(!) before you left RN)
Cathedrals, yes can you tick off Leeds and Bradford please, as I've been there recently, both very nice in their own way, but that's another story ...
How are you getting on with your '60 tasks' Ian?

Vivienne said...

Hi Maureen,

When I met up with Ian and Maureen at the AGM, and they said, 'You'll never guess who this is?' I took one look at Jerry and thought it must be Ian's brother, as they looked so alike. J Arthur S. has been such a mystery we even thought he could be you Maureen!

Maureen said...

I wish that I had that much talent! My 'poems' are merely little ditties compared to J Arthur's. Pleased that I wasn't the only one to spot a resemblance though.
Lovely pictures by the way. Looks like you saw the park on a good, sunshiney, day. Ian's not the only one who can make up words!

Maureen said...

Sid I liked your definitions of jealousy and envy ... says it all!