The great question of the music society stage rumbles on. We have a stage already. It is composed of several pieces of massively thick and massively heavy plywood that sit on metal frames. The community opposite the church kindly lets the music society store it in one of their outbuildings and one of their members has been in charge of ferrying it over to the church and assembling and disassembling it for years. More years, in fact, than any of the current committee members have been on the committee. Now he is in his ninth decade he is beginning to find hauling huge pieces of plywood and chunky metal about the village not so easy as he did when he started, and so the plan was hatched to invest in a modern stage made out of individually lighter components that anybody could handle.
And that is where the fun starts. Were we going to store the new stage in the community across the road? How much could the components weigh before they weighed so much there was no real advantage over the existing system? Did we expect one person to be able to put the new stage up, or a couple, or more? How much space could we reasonably ask to take up in the store room, if the new stage came on its own purpose built trolley or trolleys so that we didn't have to unload it and load it up again each time we wanted to move it?
I don't particularly want to become regularly involved in moving the stage, just because it's an hour's round trip from home, so I'm hoping enough volunteers come forward who live in the village. But I thought I'd go and contribute my two penny's worth when a rep from one of the potential suppliers offered to come and demonstrate their stages in situ in the church, on the grounds that I am probably more used to lifting and moving things than some of the committee, and to remind some of the chaps that actually women could lift things too, as long as the things weren't too heavy or awkwardly shaped. To listen to them you'd think that lifting anything heavier than a teapot was an exclusively male preserve.
We were shown two sorts of stage, one composed of smallish squares that sat on solid metal supports where the legs were fixed, and one made of bigger pieces with detachable legs that clipped on. The exact size of the floor sections and height of the legs was entirely up to us, since the company designed and made to order and could make whatever size we wanted. I liked the detachable legs. The clips that held them looked good and solid and very quick to fasten and release, and I could imagine all the legs stowing away into a bag, leaving us with only the floor sections to stack, while carrying a ferrying a couple of dozen or more fixed three dimensional little metal supports back and forth across the road looked like a complete hassle. And my instinct was to go for the largest floor sections we could comfortably handle, on the grounds that setting up eight or twelve pieces of staging looked like much less work than slotting twenty or thirty together. The church floor has got some spectacular dips in it where the brasses were removed in times gone by, and the floor sections have to be clipped together, so I thought the fewer legs and clips to worry about the better.
But of course not everybody thought like that, which is how democracy works. The salesman retained an air of Zen calm as he explained for the half dozenth time that we needn't worry about the exact height of the sample he'd brought, we could have any height we liked, and talked us through the Disability Discrimination Act rules on the maximum height of steps, and tried to get us to focus on what size we would like our stage to be in total. We didn't reach a decision on the spot, of course. I think the chairman's husband agreed with me, but he is not a voting member of the committee.