Mick Manson's thoughts....
The last time I voiced my thoughts on the 16 Club, I ended up being the RMO for years, so I shall attempt to be a bit more careful this time.
Many of you will remember the 80's and 90's where part of the political correctness was to sign up to the culture of change. There was even a good living to be made out of being a change manager or consultant. This left me feeling uncomfortable as it seemed to me that what was being overlooked was the simple fact that many organisations needed no changes or what was usually the case, that the organisations had been changing all the time. They survived by changing, and only made changes when needed, and then, made the minimum number of changes required.
I believe that to be the case with the Club. That it has survived for 32 years when all other college clubs have fallen by the wayside, may be serendipity, but it also indicates we have managed to hit on a formula that works. I know that when the Club was originally founded, it was not envisioned that it would survive the founding members leaving college. The Returning Members was an idea that was added later. In the early years the RMs were not difficult to organise, we were but a handful (a real handful I may add). There were changes, articles were drawn up and then promptly forgotten about or lost, but the Club and the RMs continued. I believe that as long as people can be found to do the work, the Club and the RMs can continue in this way for another 32 years. Whilst thinking about this I came to the shocking realisation that I have been a 16 Club member for most of my life, and I am approaching retirement. Scarey or what?
There seem to be 4 proposals for change put up for discussion.
1. All Club members be specifically asked to join the RMs on leaving college.
2. The RMs organise themselves in such a way as to help other RMs and Club members.
3. The RMs to meet in places other than Lampeter.
4. To allow ladies to join the Club and in turn the RMs (or perhaps even be Redeemed into the RMs).
1. I don't see why Club members should not continue to automatically become RMs on leaving college. What happens now is that many never respond to letters, move without giving a new address, or just drop out of sight. In practice, they are dropped from the circulation list. However, should they ever resurface they will always be welcomed back. We are after all a band of brothers, and as you all know we don't get to choose our family. Also, we tend to sometimes only see them every few years or so.
2. I am all in favour of helping any member that I can help, or even joining together with others to help. However, putting it on a formal basis is not really viable. We are not Freemasons, we do not have their membership base or their resources. Often we are strapped for cash just to help out the Club or college in a small way. This could be looked at again if we get to the stage where most RMs are actively involved and contributing. As it stands at the moment, we may be able to help someone in a small way, too small a way to have any lasting impact, and find ourselves without the means to do anything for the next person who requires help.
3. I went to an excellent Dinner at the Liberal Club in London last year. The surroundings were superb. James Kenny-Levick is to be congratulated on organising a splendid evening. However, James is a member of the Liberal Club, and no doubt at the back of his mind must have been the thought, what happens if just this once the Gentlemen of the Club do not conform to the high standards normally associated with such meals. What happens if a similar meal is arranged in a small village or town where one of our members lives and will have to see the landlord the next day? I am all in favour of extra meals throughout the year in various locations, but not everyone will want to organise them. One further point. Lampeter is much a member of the Club as any person. There is something about the place that attracts many. Not least, its remoteness. Going there for a weekend requires a commitment which is all part of the fun, as is the long journey home on Sunday nursing a hangover. In spite of what we may want to believe, nostalgia plays a part in this Club, and the rolling green hills, the burbling Dulas, the cosy hostelries, the mud, the damp, all go to make the event enjoyable.
4. Times have changed since the Club was founded, and when it was decided that it should be a Gentlemen Only club. Times will no doubt change again. Is it not good to know that some things in an ever-changing world will always be the same? Besides which, the point has been made, what Lady in her right mind would want to join the Club? Truth be told, being a Club member confers no privileges that Ladies are being excluded from. I also suspect that the single gender make-up of the Club has contributed to its longevity. Another one of those factors we should be careful about changing just for changes sake.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this.