At the civic centre recently I experienced the highs and lows of what appeared to be a routine council meeting. Never dismiss local politics as boring, as seeing democracy at work can be uplifting and behind every planning application there is a real human interest story.
Politicians and the public were all kept in line by chairman Councillor Bruce Baker (Con) who presides over planning meetings for the north of the borough.
When I arrived, calm-faced residents, who earlier might have been fizzing with fury,were somehow managing to keep a lid on it as they waited to speak on perceived injustices to their communities.
Some wanted to stop part of a field from disappearing under a car park; others were determined to defend their village and its small shops against SpreadingSupermarket-Syndrome.A third delegation turned out to be a neighbours' dispute over a wall.
Battles were won, arguments were lost; some protesters may regroup to fight another day. But everyone had their say.
Mr Baker,using his casting vote in favour of the car park, was called a 'bully' by the anti-contingent. The neighbours' niggle spilled into the coffee machine area outside,then seeped back into the committee room. Tension mounted; calling security was considered.
Strangest of all (and a bit like the 'Don't Mention the War' episode of Fawlty Towers), the 'T' word was never mentioned in the debate about the possible invasion of a certain supermarket into Harefield.
This is because decisions can only be taken on planning grounds (never because residents don't fancy a particular chain) but, amusingly, when the agent for Tesco dropped the name out himself,everyone else was able to use it as well.
Though not all the results were popular, it was great to be reminded how local government works. I'm thinking of taking a coach party next time! [25a0] WHINGE of the week: Have you seen the advert which uses that beautiful poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways ... to list tasty toppings for bagels?
This abuse of such beautiful classic lines irritates me almost as much as Edith Piaf's song, 'Je ne regrette rien', being used to plug budget eyeware.
Rewriting, via subtitles, a moving tale of personal survival, to a yarn about someone wishing they'd bought cheaper glasses.
J'abandonne! (I give up).