Poison all committee members

I’VE just driven home from a committee meeting and I know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

I’m going to travel the world seeking out committee members — from the harsh and icy tundra of the Russian arctic to the sand-blasted oases of the withering Sahara — and I’m going to poison them. All.

I thought at first I’d only tear out their tongues, but they’d still bang the tables and wave their agenda papers and make guttural noises (some of them already do), so poisoning them is easier.

It takes special qualities to be a committee member; something besides a love of your own voice that makes narcissism look like cold indifference. It requires a long, long memory and a mind with all the malleability of a concrete block.

The kind of mind that can say: “Excuse me, chairperson (these people would never say ‘chairman’ or ‘chairwomen’ even though the gender was probably obvious) but may I draw your attention to paragraph 5, sub-paragraph 3b, section 2, which, I think you will find, forbids you adjourning the meeting for a tea-break.”

Maybe they hold auditions for committee members to ensure they utter the words with sufficient smug conceit to make you want to…well, poison them.

And you must be able to master the word ‘but’. If ever you sit at a committee meeting and someone says ‘but’ – look out for the lie.

“I don’t like to criticise but…” may be loosely translated as: “There are few things in the world that give me more pleasure than whingeing interminably about my neighbours, especially when I have a captive audience and I can dress up my monologue to look like stoic suffering.”

“The record of the Management Committee on these issues is magnificent but…” is committee-speak for: “Oh boy have they stuffed up in a big way and they don’t realise when they deal with me that I have memorised the entire constitution and all its amendments since 1952.”

There must be a way to get rid of these people. As I said, I’m happy to poison them, but… (see!) a more karmic solution might be to create an Association of Committee Members.

It would hold meetings for no real purpose other than allowing its members to stand up and say: “On a point of order, chairperson…” or “If I could draw your attention to the constitution…” while the rest of us got on with running the Line Dancing Club or the Philatelists’ Phellowship in a spirit of co-operative bonhomie that enables us to change silly rules so they do what we want, instead of the other way round.

The really remarkable thing about these people is their stamina. They can keep it up for hours. They usually do! Strong men collapse and fall off their chairs but true committee members go on forever.

There is a special skill in being able to turn a three-minute decision about cutting the grass into a debate that is handed down through the generations. If we employed them as generals wars would dwindle into folk mythology and we’d only talk ourselves to death.

Poison would be faster.

Even a slow poison would be faster.

Anyway, that’s my proposal. Now, if I could just have a seconder…