41 essential learnings from the viral Handforth Parish Council meeting
Jackie Weaver does have authority
You've probably all seen it. That's why you're here. But just for those who might not have seen the full extent of the Handforth Parish Council Planning and Environment Committee meeting that took place on Thursday 10th December 2020, let me explain.
Council meetings are usually the dullest form of human interaction. There's no reason why anyone would want to watch one they were not involved in or reporting on. Even then, they're tedious at best.
But this is no ordinary council meeting. This Zoom call, released into the public domain but only catapulted into virality two months later, is a work of art.
Everyone has become all too familiar with the technical glitches that come with video calls over the past year, especially when they involve people of an older generation. No offence, mum. And this call has plenty of them. But the real source of dynamite in this meeting, the crux of everything, is a fight for power.
First we have Jackie Weaver, stepping in to clerk a meeting, and from what we can gather, experienced in the field. Then we have the Handforth PC Clerk (or is he???).
As the call goes on, details unravel, mics are muted and unmuted, tensions build, a coup is staged, and seemingly nothing is achieved.
I watched the 'best bits' on YouTube (I'm not watching the full thing, I'm a very busy man), and documented my thoughts below.
- What is Roger Small doing turned away from his screen? Roger, ROGER. You're on. The call has begun.
- Who just mumbled 'Fuck off' literally four seconds into the call? What could have possibly happened to make them this angry, this early? I feel like there's a back story there and I want to hear it.
- When Jackie Weaver asks you to mute your microphone, you mute your microphone. For the love of God. None of them are even wearing headphones. This is going to be carnage.
- The levels of passive aggression in Handforth PC Clerk's jibe about being kicked out the previous meeting are palpable. What happened last time? Is he always like this?
- Peter Moore has a nice collection of guitars.
- They're arguing about who is the Clerk and who is the Proper Officer. What is the difference between a Clerk and a Proper Officer? Does it matter? Can we start the fucking meeting?
- Handforth PC clerk has huge supply teacher who has lost control of some rowdy year 10s energy when he shouts "WILL YOU STOP TALKING?!"
- I absolutely love the spelling of "Julie's I pad." No time for Apple's style guide and I respect it.
- However, Julie, please MUTE YOUR MICROPHONE.
- Barry Burkhill is literally facing away from the screen. Absolutely not arsed one bit.
- I'm already getting tired of Handforth PC Clerk's shtick. Oh, "This meeting has not been called according to the law." Grow up.
- Welcome to the chat, Aled's iPad. Why are there two of you?
- "You have no authority here Jackie Weaver, no authority here at all." This is going to become the new "Dear Lord, what a sad little life Jane." I can feel it. Why has this guy for it in for Jackie anyway? He's not even letting her speak.
- "She's kicked him out" - again, lads, we can hear literally everything you're saying. Mute your microphone. Actually, don't. This is gold.
- Aled's "illegally" interjection might be the greatest one liner of all time. His delivery is masterful. This guy was definitely a prefect at school.
“Give it Smithy til the end of the meeting” pic.twitter.com/Ghk8tLGdkx
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) February 5, 2021
- "The vice chair's here, I take charge." Again, there's so much aggression in his voice, I feel like we need to know the full extent of the beef that proceeds this meeting.
- "You don't know what you're talking about." Yes she does, she's got 30 years of experience mate, fuck off.
- John Smith unashamedly cackling is all of us.
- Hi Sue, take a seat. Welcome to the carnage, and thank you for standing up for Jackie Weaver.
- Aled, mate. I remind you again, you can mute your microphone if you don't want everyone else to hear what you're saying.
- His voice has transformed into that of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Is everything ok? What the fuck is going on?
- A round of applause for Cyn (presumably Cynthia but let's call her Cyn) for objecting to the disgraceful levels of disrespect shown to the sanctity of this meeting by who I can only assume is Aled's father.
- John Smith is the only person on this call showing any semblance of maturity. Make him chairman, or Clerk, or Proper Officer, whatever the difference is.
- Wait, what?! The chairman hasn't chaired a meeting since March???? The levels of hypocrisy in this call are through the roof.
- Thank you to Ian for pointing out that the chairman's Zoom name said Clerk - that's very much been the elephant in the room this whole time. Make your mind up, mate. What is your position?
- Listening to middle aged people explaining how Zoom name tags work brings back horrifying memories of quizzes last summer. Let's never do that again.
- Smith is the calm head in the room here. Give it Smithy til' end of the season
- Ian revealing that the so called Chairman/Clerk whatever he is has declared himself clerk via email outside of the call. Is this a coup? Are we witnessing an attempted coup of a Zoom call?
- "Please refer to be as Britney Spears from now on" - We're all Jackie Weaver aren't we? Queen.
🚨 VAR check in progress 🚨 pic.twitter.com/mlsA4Kg5rJ
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) February 5, 2021
- The guys who have been kicked out surely can't still be in the waiting room? Just staring at the white screen waiting to be let back in? Surely they've fucked off by now?
- It's a nice thought, Sue, letting them back in if they promise to behave, but it very much seems like telling a toddler mid-tantrum to calm down. Cyn - again - is the voice of reason.
- Who the fuck is Alan Murdoch? Surely introducing members of the public to this meeting will only add to the farce?
- I sense tension brewing between Sue and Cyn. Not sure I can deal with another beef on the side here.
- Why is Alan from the public allowed to watch all of this unfold? He's got the best seat in the house for one of the great modern dramas and he doesn't even realise yet.
- "You're muted" must be the must frequently uttered phrase of the psst 12 months after "when this is all over."
- David Pincombe predicting a war of words borne from virality. He's right. Everyone has now nailed their colours to the mast for either team Jackie or Team Handforth PC Clerk. This isn't going to go away any time soon.
- "Can we make this recording available?" Oh John, you really don't know what you've just done.
- Can we let the mad lads back in? It's all got a bit too mellow now.
- Was anything actually achieved in that meeting?
- Last but not least, can they make the next meeting available to watch live on YouTube? It would get bigger numbers that Strictly, Match of the Day and Diana's funeral put together.