Matthew Munson: An evening with Margate Rotary Club

Matthew and the life of an author

Rotary Clubs as a concept are fairly well known, but how many of us truly know what they actually do? I didn’t in any particular depth, except that I assumed it was a social occasion.

Well, it’s certainly that, but it’s also more than that. On Wednesday just gone, I was invited along to the Margate Rotary Club (by the lovely Terry) to give a talk – my second invite in two years, which was a pleasure in itself, and this time I agreed to present “My Path to Publishing,” it’s something I can speak about ad infinitum if needed, given that I’m a published writer, but the Rotary Club had the good sense to suggest I speak for about 20 minutes or so. Quite right, or we’d probably still be there even now.

But I was able to learn about the workings of the Rotary Club as well, and that they are far more than perhaps the vision I had formed in my head from somewhere. I’m glad I had the chance to be corrected. I was sat with the president of the Club, as well as three others, and it was fascinating to talk to them.

I was fascinated by the international relationships they have across Europe and the charity work. The president was telling me about funds they had raised for projects in Africa and my hands were twitching to find a pen and write it all down in detail. Given that I’m a writer, I should have had those things on tap, but I never usually succeed in conforming to most stereotypes.

The gentleman to my right was talking about Academy FM and a lot else besides, and it made me appreciate that I didn’t listen to that station often enough – something I’ve corrected in the last few days – and the other things we talked about? Believe me when I say I haven’t laughed like that for a while, nor have I been so fascinated by the range of topics.

One thing I should say; I am naturally clumsy, due to having dyspraxia, and no-one even batted an eyelid when I spilled half a glass of water over the tablecloth and I muttered a panicked curse as I quickly mopped it up – and they were entirely forgiving when I did it again, at the end of dinner. In fact, I can say with all honesty that they were an incredibly welcoming group of people who had clearly come together for a common purpose – friendship, solidarity, and a desire to serve causes bigger than themselves. I certainly can’t fault them on that.

I rejigged the talk I was planning to give on the hoof as I discovered that a few of the Rotarians knew of me first from my columns in this own, esteemed news journal, so I enjoyed singing its praises for a few minutes, before moving on to talk about my experiences of writing more generally. I always enjoy speaking about things I’m interested in, but I always experience a flash of nerves for the five minutes immediately beforehand – the mind is a complex beast. But when I am confronted by a room full of welcoming, friendly people, and asked intelligent, thoughtful questions afterwards, my nerves settle almost instantly and I feel a sense of relief.

Rotary Clubs are brilliant places, focused on doing good work, and I commend the Margate Club as a wonderful example of this; if you want to do some good and meet new people, then perhaps this is a group for you. If they make you feel even 1/10th as cmfortable as they did to me as a guest (and it’ll be a lot more than that), then you’ll be in for a warm welcome.