I just can’t believe some of the things I have to put up with. I called the meeting and was roundly heckled – I couldn’t believe it! Granted it was a little dark down there, but I don’t think I deserved the attack I got. There were two ring-leaders, or so it seemed. Barry Bear and Murray Moose – Murray, my own vice-president! Et tu, Murray?

The main concern was the darkness, and I will talk to UJ about that, but there were other issues, too. Murray said that he had heard complaints from some of the critters who were bored. There was nothing to do down there. I suggested jigsaw puzzles or crosswords, but boy was I shouted down. “Then, how about writing?” I asked, and a number of the critters agreed they could certainly consider that. Eugene, the webmaster, said he thought he could spearhead that effort, as long as the equipment was provided. “Well, it so happens,” I said, “that I know where there’s a spare computer that you all can use.” Ok, one problem solved.

Another complaint was being unable to come upstairs at all. Aside from how dark it is, a number of the critters felt like they had been forgotten completely down there. If it weren’t for Uncy Jay saying hello to them every time he walked by they say they would never feel involved! This topic became quite heated. “Mea culpa.” I said, but I also reminded them that they have legs, feet and the power to leave the basement any time they want. There is nothing keeping them down there except the limit of their own imaginations. I expect to see a lot more movement down there over the next little while.

Yet another complaint was the lack of funding for musical instruments. Some of the younger critters wanted to dabble in music – to try it out to see if they can do it. “Well,” I said, “I can tell you that there’s no money at all in the budget for that – we must direct our education kibble to the three R’s. But,” I said “I do believe that UJ has some instruments you can use if you want – a clarinet, a guitar, and a mouth organ. I’ll ask him.” There was a little squeak of applause when I said that – from the young ones – and if I know UJ he won’t have any problem with the critterlets learning how to play – as long as they aren’t too noisy.

Finally, some of the critters wanted to be able to watch TV whenever they wanted (the rules say only when UJ is around). Now, I had to put my foot down on this one. The reason for the rule as it currently stands is to protect the equipment, which cost UJ quite a lot of money. I explained that we can’t just have everybody jumping all over the remote control, trying to make it work, especially when you remember that many of their paws are just far too big to hit the buttons properly. There was compromise there – agreement and understanding.

I was surprised by the number of complaints, and by some of the vitriol, but in retrospect I don’t think I should have been. I have been somewhat absent, and I can appreciate that those guys could feel left out. I mean, on the last five road trips I regret (now) that I’ve never taken the time to debrief them as I always do the upstairs crowd. This is something I can fix, and in apologizing I made a promise to do better in the future.

Family portrait

By the end of it there was general contentment, and I think we’re back on track again. The fact is, I lost sight of some of my responsibilities, and forgot some of the promises I had made long ago. My bad.

Anyway, it shall be fixed. Like I say, I expect to see a lot more movement down there in the next little while.

Sidney

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