People are thinking and working hard to find ways to keep the Tree House going. It’s encouraging, and the best bit about the whole venture is that strong sense of community spirit that has developed within the pretty shabby walls of the former Job Centre at Abbey End. Some really great people.
I’d particularly like to highlight the fabulous work done by two very regular and hardworking volunteers, Vicki and Angela. Vicki you have already seen, in Elizabethan dress and also making a papier mache tree…she did huge amounts of work on the organisation of our lovely Shakespeare Festival, has opened the shop numerous times when I haven’t been able to be there, and is a regular stalwart with pricing gun and gap filling. Angela comes every Tuesday afternoon and generally Gets Things Done. She has an eye for what to put in the window, she does all the boring things like washing up, cleaning and hoovering, she whips me into shape when I spend too long having a tea break, and she brings fabulous homemade cake.
There’s also Tom the Philosopher who regularly drops in and spends the afternoon sorting, pricing and shelving books. Marvellous, as he would say. There is Andrew the Military Man who comes to see what we have in the way of military history, drinks tea and often unpacks a few bags of donated books and sorts them. There are four Duke of Edinburgh pupils from Kenilworth School who come weekly and just do whatever needs doing, quietly and efficiently. There is Paul, our answer to Bradley Wiggins, who has just cycled from Gibraltar to Kenilworth for the hell of it, who drinks lots of lemon and ginger tea and imparts countless bits of advice and brings us strawberries.
And there is Nifty Needles, the needlecraft group that meets weekly at the Tree House. Angela and Vicki are part of that crew, along with Pauline, Lesley and Naomi, and they are my long-suffering committee, a sounding board for ideas and help out practically when they can, with much giggling along the way. Plumping cushions will never be the same again.
So we are not dead yet, and all these people are the main reason why. I wouldn’t have survived this long without them, and if I do find a way, it will be because all these people make it possible.
The title of this blog post is a Bob Dylan song – a song about ageing, though Bob’s songs are never about any one thing – and as ever, he gets to the heart of life. ‘Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain…’ Never truer than at the Tree House.