Sue Vincent’s #writephoto this week is
Alderman Montgomery Blush coughed. ‘If I could call the meeting to order? I…’ He glanced to his left. ‘Perhaps I’ll let Vincent introduce the next item.’
Monty thought Vincent Van Grot resembled a rabbit with a headlight fixation. ‘Me?’ Maybe a mouse would be nearer the mark given the soprano-esque delivery.
‘Yes, Vinny, you. It’s your probl… proposal.’ He essayed a smile but it really didn’t suit his face.
‘Right, Ok. Well, has everyone read the report?’ He looked at Vinny. ‘The works should have started again, as the report shows. Vinny?’
The other members of the Highways and Bye-ways (Special Task Force) Planning And Financing Committee nodded, apart from one.
Vinny coughed. ‘Could I start by tabling a short addendum?’
‘Point of order Madam Chair?’ Marigold Twinbobbles launched her right arm in what, to Monty, faintly resembled an inappropriate salute.
Monty sighed. ‘I think the correct appellation should be Chairman, or even just Chair.’
Marigold sniffed. ‘You’re just standing in, Montgomery. Patience remains chair so it’s her I’m addressing, in absentia.’
‘It’s me you’re addressing, Mar…’
‘You’re representing her, like someone pp’ing a letter.’
‘What’s your point, Marigold?’ Monty didn’t try and hide the effort it was to continue the debate.
‘Standing Order 13/57 of 1992 clearly states that addenda have to be submitted at least…’
Monty squeezed his eyes shut. ‘Vinny, will you be explaining what’s in the addendum?’
‘Er yes. Why?’
‘Because the order to which our colleague alludes concerns written submissions…’
‘It’s a paper, Monty. Of course it’s written.’
‘But if his addenda is oral, accompanied by a paper then the addendum, per se…’
‘You’re weaselling, Monty.’
‘Agreed. Can we move on? Vinny?’
‘Me?’ Vincent had the look of someone who thought he had dodged the teacher’s question only to realise he’d merely postponed the horror.
‘Yup, you’re on.’ Monty leaned towards the terrified executive. ‘Good luck.’
‘Right. Ok. To recap, last month the progress of Netting-On-Wold bypass was halted due to the unfortunate discovery of a previously unidentified stone circle in the Woods at Peachbuttock Topping. An archaeological desktop indicated the circle might be Neolithic which if true would require a delay to investigate of some 18 months. This committee agreed to a R&R strategy…’
Marigold’s arm sky-rocketed. ‘R&R?’
‘It’s in the minutes, Marigold.’ Monty nodded at the pad. ‘Remove and Replace.’
‘I was going to ask what that meant. Does it…?’
‘Yes it does. The contractor, working diligently…’
‘…so as not to alert…’
‘Yes, sorry, disturb anyone…’
‘… the potentially nesting wildlife…’
Monty glared at Vincent. He hissed, ‘We agreed it was a question of priorities. Newts may be nesting…’
‘In a wood? On the top of a chalk hill?’
‘We couldn’t take the risk.’
Marigold’s fingers performed a passable rumba-by-digit as she rifled through the minutes. She peered at a paragraph and then lifted her head to meet Monty’s steady gaze. ‘You really moved the stones?’
‘More a case of repositioning…’
‘An ancient, possibly significant symbolic circle and you…’
‘I think, Marigold that significant could be considered pejorative in this context. Consider the newts.’
‘Bugger the newts, you can’t go around…’
‘Well, we have. You’re part of the committee. You didn’t object to the minutes.’
‘I was visiting Patience. I wasn’t here.’
‘I’m sorry but that’s collective responsibility. Can we move on? Vinny is going to tell us when…’
‘Where’s the circle?’
‘You said you moved it. Where?’
‘It’s …. Vinny where did it go?’
‘That’s the second issue that the addendum addresses. There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding. With the contractor.’
Monty fingered his inhaler. He had never liked the word ‘issue’. He focused on his breathing. He was good. He didn’t need chemicals to get through this. ‘Misunderstanding?’
‘He used the stones in another project. As foundations. You said they needed to be be well buried. They’re now part of the Joyful Well- and Mindful-ness Centre.’
‘Oh god…’ Monty pulled out the puffer, staring at it bleakly. ‘You know this is a disaster.’
Vinny looked surprised. ‘Shall I finish?’
‘I mentioned issues.’
‘Did you?’ Monty knew he really shouldn’t ask. He put in a new canister. Somehow he knew that was a good move. Prudent.
‘When they dug up the stones, they found these skulls… well, they’re more heads, really. Embalmed. Though…’
Monty decided he hated ‘though’ more than ‘issue’ and sucked on the puffer. ‘Though..?’
‘Well, that’s the other issue.’
‘Isn’t that finding the heads?’
‘No, they went with the stones. They’ve been reburied.’
‘So what’s the issue?’
‘The headless corpses. They’ve only just started to appear. The contractors won’t start again until they’ve all gone.’
‘Gone? Are you taking them somewhere?’
‘No they just leave.’
‘How can that be? And where are they going?’
Marigold glared at Monty, then Vinny. ‘Perhaps they think they you can’t have a full body treatment at a Well and Mindfulness centre if their heads and bodies are separated. Maybe they’re going there.
Marigold and Vinny turned to where Monty sat, their attention drawn by a sharp pop. Montgomery Blush’s complexion had changed to a darker hue, his hands flapping at his throat. He appeared to have swallowed his inhaler. Vinny leapt into action and performed some clumsy but effective first aid.
Marigold gathered her papers. ‘You’ll not get away with this Montgomery Blush. When Patience hears about this, heads will roll.’
Monty and Vinny exchanged a look. ‘Please don’t minute that.’