I like starting clubs…

I like starting clubs. Always have. Some have been more successful than others.

One of the first clubs I started, aged about 7, was the SSO Club. I made badges, and put a pot next to the telephone labelled with SSO Club Funds, please give generously in bright letters. I figured that when people came to borrow our telephone (which happened a lot) they might mistake the club funds for the telephone donations box. Club funds would be spent on snacks (sweets) for our club meetings. SSO stood for: Secret Service to Others and the plan was that we would do ‘good deeds’ without anyone knowing. I devised a series of merits that could be earned when the good deeds were revealed at club meetings (while we ate the copious amount of sweets earned through misdirected telephone funding).

We never actually had a meeting, as no one else ever joined the club (my brother was meant to, but he was an awkward little wotsit, and was never easily persuaded into playing my games). Nor did we ever earn any funds. I do still have the badges somewhere though.

At Junior school, I once joined another club, a song-and-dance group that my friends invented. I could neither sing nor dance, so they put me in charge of costumes. This was a mistake, as I have never been even slightly interested in clothes. I think they had visions of Pans People, shimmying in shiny sexy outfits. I asked my mother if I could borrow the jester’s outfits that we had worn in the Letchworth carnival that year. When I arrived at the practice studio (Carol Watkin’s garden shed) they were less than excited to be dressed in bright yellow and red shapeless tunics—one size fits all—more tent than bikini. I don’t remember whether I was actually fired, but I don’t remember attending any rehearsals after this. They were never famous.

Letchworth Carnival in the 70’s

As an 18-year-old, I took over the church youth group (not sure whether this counts as ‘starting’ a group). I ran it in the exact same way that they youth club from my previous church had been run, with a variety of social events, light refreshments, and a 10-minute religious talk at the end. I was quite a stickler for the religious talk, and insisted that the embarrassed adult who had agreed to drive us all to bowling in Crawley also did a talk in McDonald’s afterwards. That club was more of a success than the SSO and when I left for uni, I handed over a group of about 20 teenagers (I think my sister led it after I left, and then my brother—same genes).

The adult Anne still likes starting clubs. I have run a breakfast club for teenagers, a baking club on Sunday afternoons, and have been involved in running various other groups and clubs in the town and at church. At present, I am doing nothing…though I feel the village is crying out for a cake-eating discussion club (because I like making cakes and discussing things). We will see.

Anne E. Thompson
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