Thinking Big


 The Town Hall (now Reps Theatre) 2010 courtesy of Melody Annandale Thanks to Maureen Riley (nee Bowden) for contact

Thinking Big

At the very first council meeting, Dad presented his case, proposing that the municipality undertake maintenance for a swimming bath to be constructed with State Lottery funding, for which my mother and the high school headmaster had successfully petitioned. There being no seconder, the motion fell away without discussion.  He had five other motions that fell away.

Thinking Big

In his broad Scottish accent and schoolmaster intonation, Mayor Harry said “Cooncillors, as a rule, are wise and humble enough to sit back for their initial six months, learning what municipal affairs and procedures are all aboot, before presuming to tell the cooncil what to do. I suggest you do the same. Apparently, your fellow cooncillors think the same.”

If Harry thought Dad would be intimidated, he was in for a surprise. He retorted, “I am fully aware how the Council operates, having studied the Municipal Act and the Council’s rules of procedure. As for what Que Que needs and what I believe its citizens want, my ideas are fully formulated.  A six months delay to have them debated is not in Que Que’s interest. I will certainly not be silenced.”

Six months later, Dad presented his proposal again. What did Que Que, a little village, its narrow streets hemmed in by Mines on three sides and a Railway station on the fourth, need to attract industry to it?  The municipal area measured barely half a mile wide and less than one mile long.

A new dam was required if a proposal of a water-borne sewage scheme was to be entertained.  An adequate electricity distribution network was a must.  The town foreman was Dick Smallman, who used to own a garage.  His valiant efforts to add bits of wire to already overloaded overhead lines for each additional consumer simply could not go on.  Street lighting, Native housing, and road macadamizing, along with storm-water drainage, were in order, as well as the swimming bath and other sporting amenities, if Que Que really wanted to become the industrial hub of Rhodesia.

“I’ve worked it all out,” he summed up.  “A million pounds is what it will take.”

The chamber was silent.  The Councillors knew they could be held responsible for debts incurred if Municipal income fell short in meeting capital charges.

“You must be joking or have taken leave of your senses!” exclaimed Solly Aronowitz.

“That’s going a bit far,” soothed Al Davies, the chemist, as his eye ticked away.

Harry dispensed the proposal with an acerbic, “Aye, I don’t think we needing be wasting oor time with such wild and irrespoonsible ideas.”

Dad was still alone, with the gap widening. A new swimming bath was nowhere on the horizon.  Mom enlarged our paddling pool.

Thanks to both Melody Annandale for photograph and Maureen Bowden for the contact in Kwe Kwe.