The holiday sub-committee formally reconvened tonight having reached no decision at its last meeting. Time is pressing and, if resolution is not speedily achieved, it is likely that the issue will have to go to plenary. This will present its own unique difficulties as two of the plenary members can only say â€œballâ€ and â€œmamaâ€ and interpreting their votes will be a fraught process.
While the fundamental issues before the sub-committee remain unchanged, new information is regularly becoming available which feeds into the decision making process going forward. In the matter of summer holidays, it was originally proposed that Mr. Waffle would take six weeks of leave: one month of parental leave and two weeks of holidays. Unfortunately, work commitments in July mean that he may no longer be able to do this. The Princess finishes school for two months at the end of June and the boysâ€™ creche is closed for August. The sub-committee has formally agreed that the Princess can be accommodated in a series of courses for the four weeks of July though no such courses have as yet been identified and agreed by all parties. Pending resolution of the over-arching holiday arrangement package, this issue has been parked. It is, however, likely that the task of organising this will be delegated to Mr. Waffle who has shown particular expertise in this area on previous occasions.
The information on the July holiday period has presented particular difficulties for the sub-committee and it is a matter of considerable regret to the sub-committee that the business of Mr. Waffleâ€™s employer cannot be subjugated to the Wafflesâ€™ needs in relation to their extensive summer holidays. The sub-committee actively considered a motion of censure but, under pressure from Mr. Waffle, the motion was ultimately withdrawn. Nevertheless, the sub-committee asked that it be minuted that this is a particularly vexed issue as the original proposal was satisfactory to all parties: namely that Mr. Waffle and the three junior Waffles would travel to Kerry to meet formally with the babysitting team (or team grandparents as they are known in committee jargon), one of the current Ambassadors to the Holy See and the latterâ€™s spouse, children and grandchildren. The Holy See team are close friends of team grandparents and their children the youthful companions of Mr. Waffle. They will not be the Holy See team forever and when they go back to the distant land from whence they came, joint holidays in Kerry will be more challenging. The sub-committee, therefore, spent some time discussing this issue. All parties were extremely disappointed that no solution could be reached and this led to what were arguably circular and certainly futile discussions. A suggested compromise of travelling to West Cork for a fortnight in late July/early August to at least stay with team grandparents is under active consideration. At this point the chair deeming that the sub-committee had progressed as far as was possible on this issue and called for a break for a cup of tea.
Subsequently, the sub-committee reconvened and moved straight to item 3 on the agenda â€œAmerican Holidayâ€. The arguments for and against were again rehearsed by members of the sub-committee. They might be summarised as follows:
The climate of Chicago is one of extremes â€“ members of the plenary are likely to deal poorly with extreme temperatures;
The Chicago welcoming committee is primed and its premises are in order. Members of the sub-committee are enthusiastic at the prospect of inspecting the Chicago branchâ€™s newly acquired premises and the surrounding area;
A nine hour flight may stretch the participants to breaking point;
More particularly as it will be followed by jet lag and, eventually, a nine hour flight back and further jet lag; members of the sub-committee expressed particular concern as to whether members of the plenary would be amenable to this kind of activity;
The issue of cost and convenience also arose: should the group choose to fly from Ireland, then they will fly free to Chicago courtesy of the branch office which is willing to put its airmiles at the disposal of head office. The sub-committee has two reservations in relation to this â€“ should the group take such a generous gift from the branch when these costs should, more properly, be borne by head office and would it not be more convenient to fly from Brussels in view of the particular needs of members of the plenary. As against this the sub-committee noted that the 3,000 euro which would be saved by availing of the Chicago branchâ€™s offer is not a negligible consideration in these times of increased budgetary constraints and predicted economic slowdown.
At this point barracking from the bedroom caused the meeting to break up in disorder.
Internet, please tell me, are we mad to think of taking three small children to Chicago in August? What will we do when we get there? Does anyone have any advice?