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In which I celebrate the man with a plan

They are undervalued, unpaid and their work often goes unacknowledged. Indeed, their very job title is assumed.

They are never officially appointed; rather, they naturally rise to the challenge, like an alpha wolf just knows to lead a pack.

They are The Organiser. There is one in every group of friends and it is thanks to them that hen parties are organised, whip-rounds are initiated and group holidays are coordinated.

I am not The Organiser. Indeed, there was a time when I was anathema to The Organiser.

I'd rarely respond to the get-along-gang emails, even the ones that read "I need to get numbers down TODAY!" (if only to punish them for using capital letters). And when I did, it was to throw a curveball. "There's a new hotel opening down the road with a rooftop pool/Shall we rent a helicopter?/When is this booked for again?"

And then something happened that aroused my sympathy for The Organiser and gave me a deeper understanding of their vain attempts to cajole a load of useless bastards into depositing €65 into a bank account.

I became one of them.

I still don't quite know how it happened, only that I suggested a weekend away and the next thing I knew I was being consulted on everything from eating arrangements to the drive time to Kerry.

dESIGNATED

I was the POI (Point of Contact), TO (Tour Organiser) and BSG (Big Silly Gobshite) because, let's face it, when you go away en masse, you always have a better time when you're not the designated financial controller, key-carrier and wine-stain remover (it's your credit card details that they have, after all).

My brother would never believe it. On group holidays of old he'd book my flight and hotel "because you'll never get around to it otherwise".

My sister wouldn't believe it either. She once had to ring a hotel in Barcelona on my behalf to explain that the person standing outside with no shoes on and dirt all over her face was her halfwit sister, and no señor, she was not homeless. She was just at a festival in the desert and is in fact a confirmed guest at the hotel. Could the doorman let her in? Por favor?

Oh, if you could see me now, I thought, as I sent out group emails with carefully calculated price breakdowns and consulted AA Routefinder for ETAs.

I may as well have been wearing a polo shirt and a whistle around my neck that weekend. My standard someone-else-will-do-it approach to group holidays was replaced with a can-do attitude and a front-door-face.

It transpired that I was responsible for everything.

"We need bog roll," my friend Bob charmingly mentioned one morning. As we prepared to head back to the house that night, it occurred to me that nobody had bought the toilet paper because - oh, yeah! - that was my job too.

Only, all the shops were closed. And the petrol stations. And so began the descent to my lowest moment: smuggling an industrial-sized roll of toilet paper from a hotel loo by stowing it under my coat.

I even get embarrassed buying toilet paper, so I can't begin to explain how mortified I was having to steal it.

But I did. Leaders are born, not made, I told myself as I waddled by the reception desk pretending to be pregnant.

Useless

Do people willingly sign up to this gig? Or do they simply do a quick tot of the group and implicitly realise that they are the least useless?

Twenty of us are meeting in Chicago next week for our friend's wedding.

Our TO has spent the last month organising it.

I don't need to tell this fine woman about hotels with rooftop pools - she's already organised a party on a boat, a hairdresser to come to our house and a chauffeur to ferry us to the wedding.

She told me she spent two hours one evening just answering emails from us eejits on everything from the weather to whether we should wear long gowns to the reception.

Rather you than me, I said, before vowing to buy her a gift as a token of my gratitude. But I issued a gentle reminder first.

"You do realise you're responsible for the toilet paper?"

"I know," she said bleakly, "I know."


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