Saltwell Towers is a gloriously exuberant, lavishly embellished and (it has to be said) extremely unlikely country house set in parkland of manicured perfection - clipped borders, burgeoning shrubs and rolling lawns - with an arboretum and a boating lake thrown in for decorative good measure.  That it’s in Gateshead just makes it even more remarkable.

A wholly appropriate place, then, to hold a truckshunters AGM.

There have been several AGMs there already and, naturally, I’ve always been amongst the last to arrive.  This time, though, things were different.  For a start, I somehow miscalculated my wayward timetable and managed to get there on time - just as the caff opened.

And there was no-one else there at all. 

Rather than the jamboree, brass bands and bunting which usually accompany our musterings, I was greeted by an ocean of empty tables and chairs and decided that maybe, at long last, AGMs had finally run their course and that I’d be spending a lazy hour or so with nothing but Earl Grey and an iced finger to keep me company.

Other AGMs have started as bleakly as this.  I was wrong to make my doom-laden assumptions about them then - and I was wrong this time, too.

Within seconds, Vivienne appeared out of the arboretum and we were soon sipping our lattes amongst a growing crowd of prams, push-chairs, toddlers and gossiping mothers.

Hildie arrived next.  She’d come all the way from Dipton by bus.  By two buses, in fact.  And she’d walked the width of Saltwell Park in the drizzle as well.  She almost staggered into the caff, poor lass.

Linda and Keith arrived fresh-faced and rosy-cheeked from South Shields and the redoubtable Brenda breezed beamingly in amidst smiles and hugs to make up the necessary quorum. 

Proceedings commenced according to the well-worn traditions associated with AGMs.  That is to say, they descended into anecdote, catch-up, enquiry, wisecrack, nostalgia, recollection and general undirected conversation.  Chat, you might say.

It’s not easy to describe what happens at an AGM, as anyone who’s ever attended one will verify.  Thankfully, however, no AGM has ever committed the sin of being boring and this one was no exception.  From Hildie’s peculiar box of chocolates - long thin sticks like delicious overgrown toothpicks - to recollections of the Tipsy Duchess’ glorious appearances on Paul’s Saturday show all those years ago; it was all grist to a hugely enjoyable truckshunter AGM.

If I’ve swapped a few good tales, discovered a new truth or two, and had a bloody good laugh, I’m happy.  And I was happy.

* * *
The absence of Sid and Dave - both of whom had planned to attend if at all possible - reminds me, though, that not everyone’s sky is as cloudless as it ought to be right now.  I can’t help wondering what the Honourable Company can do to make it feel more like April and less like November…

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

No comments: