I bumped into a pal who just happens to be the Socialist candidate for Mayor. She told me, conversationally, that she was holding a meeting at my local village hall that evening. No posters, no newsletters, nothing in the local paper, no note from the neighbourhood association - just chance that I got there. I never know how it is that everyone else seems to know.
The meeting started at 8.30 so I was obviously the first person there (other than the keyholder) when I arrived at 8.40. The meeting got under way at around 9.20.
The prospective mayor and five of the pospective socialist councillors sat facing the 25 or so people in the audience - about a third of the village's population. Eli, the candidate, seemed to know the name of everyone in the room. In fact everyone knew everyone.
Good presentation; the chap who would deal with the economy told us how reliant the town was on the income from our marble quarry, the woman with the health portfolio talked about new care in the community laws etc. Interesting stuff, clearly expressed, easy for me to follow and with occasional interjections or clarifying questions from the floor.
Then we got onto the Plan General approved by the current town council, which details building and planning. This is stuff close to peoples' hearts because the distinction between whether your land and house is classed as rural or urban, detailed in the plan, drastically alters both their value and what services have to be provided. Suddenly the order of the meeting collapsed. At one point each of the "top table" was speaking to at least one person and two had two conversations on the go simultaneously. There was a bit of an attempt to regain some structure but nobody's heart was in it. Then someone fastened a cigarette between their lips, someone else did the same and miraculously, the meeting was over.