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GCCF working party not as thorough as they should have been

All delegates should by now have received the agenda for the Council meeting to be held on 24 October along with the minutes of the meeting held on 20 June.

It comes as no surprise to see that the proposal from the Nor’East of Scotland Cat Club which was vehemently debated and which went against the Establishment gets just a few lines, but that the proposal from the Colourpoint Rex Coated and AOV Cat Club which was equally debated, but which went for the Establishment, gets nearly three-quarters of a page!

This undesirable practice of ‘rewriting the annals of the GCCF’ has evolved in the last three to four years and I recall in my last Treasurer’s report stating that my enthusiasm for the job had dwindled, only to see that the minutes stated that I was leaving to devote more time to my practice! Surely Jackie Beeson and Wendy Jennings who take copious notes of these meetings can be trusted to produce an accurate reflection of what takes place, warts and all, without the need for one or more members of Executive Committee to feel the need for these minutes to reflect what they personally would rather have seen.

One can only wonder at the thought processes of such individual(s) who live in this make believe world: do they really believe that we do not notice these alterations? I think the word I am looking for is amoral: they do not know right from wrong. It is to be hoped that our Chairman will make a ruling outlawing these trips to the Office, which only serve to bring the Fancy into disrepute.


I see that the agenda contains a proposal from the Blue Persian Cat Society criticising the conduct of the Executive Committee in its decision on 25 July to end GCCF’s association with Our Cats magazine:

I am certainly aware of a similar proposal by the Birman Cat Club and I understand that the office has a file with a number of letters both for and against the decision so surely delegates should have a schedule setting out the clubs who are for or against so as to be able to gauge the level of objection to that decision.

As things stand at present it appears it is only the Blue Persian who are objecting. Perhaps this schedule can be made available to delegates on the day of the meeting.


The statement of 21 September issued by GCCF appears to indicate that a working party, made up of members and officers of Executive Committee was set up to investigate an alternative to Our Cats magazine: nowhere in the minutes of Executive Committee over the past two years can I trace any reference to the appointment of such a working party, and whilst those minutes may not be totally accurate, delegates need to know the names of this working party and their reasons for conducting this covert operation without reference to Executive Committee as a whole because in the light of information coming forward following Executive Committee’s decision on 25 July to end GCCF’s association with Our Cats magazine, it would seem that the working party’s researches into the proposal they persuaded Executive to vote for unanimously may not have been as thorough as they should have been.

Stephen Bunce, Delegate, Seal and Blue Point Birman Cat Club


 

GCCF should reverse its decision
We share the shock and dismay expressed here about GCCF’s decision to withdraw support for Our Cats. We have refrained from comment until now while waiting to see if GCCF would make its position clearer. We therefore welcome GCCF’s recent statement on its website, somewhat belated though it is.

We appreciate that one of the two reasons given by the Executive Committee is a desire to improve communication with members of the cat fancy. It is therefore bitterly ironic that both the process and the decision itself have been so much at odds with this aim.

Many correspondents have already been at pains to point out the secretive, sudden and undemocratic manner of this decision. Difficult business decisions do sometimes need to be taken but a timely and transparent competitive commercial tendering process, which took into account the wishes of exhibitors would have strengthened links with the fancy and have made clear what kind of journal would meet the needs of both the organisation and show people themselves.

The important missing factor in GCCF’s judgement has been simply that we like Our Cats, and really rather more than like. Yes we may moan occasionally about Our Cats and not surprisingly those moans may reach GCCF but we complain in the same way as we do about a much loved and familiar old friend.

Criticise by all means but do not attempt to take Our Cats away from us. What we like about Our Cats is that it is above all independent, but it is also reliable, serious, entertaining, campaigning, humorous, and sometimes irreverent, including about itself. Not to mention that Our Cats also contains a lot of good old fashioned journalism plus a huge quantity of show reports. Most of all Our Cats is passionate about cats from the show winner to the rescued moggie and also about the hobby and passion we have for showing our cats. The Our Cats editorial team (Vince, Nick, Chris and Marc) have a particularly direct and personal writing style. You share with us in words and pictures the highs and lows, the disappointments and successes of the show world. We feel that we know you and that you know us.

And of course, some of us do know you by your high profile presence at shows. Behind the anger and bitterness expressed in these pages lie real hurt and confusion. GCCF are asking us without consulting our views to undertake a breach of trust with that old and respected friend. We will not easily forget that.

We do not want the sort of “official journal” being proposed by GCCF and described in its statement, and certainly not the rather bland PR product of some organisations. We recognise the need for GCCF to communicate better with the fancy as the current situation demonstrates only too well. The answer is for Our Cats to have an “affiliated journal” status and for GCCF to produce, say, a quarterly insert with full corporate GCCF branding and full editorial control with GCCF, as a sort of “Cattery Gazette”. An advantage would also be that those who do not read Our Cats could subscribe separately and for less cost to the GCCF publication.

No doubt Our Cats would be willing to tender for the technical production of this new organ. In addition a professional communication strategy by GCCF would be likely to gain greater editorial coverage in Our Cats in terms of both news and features and it is difficult to see why this has not happened already.

The second reason given by the Executive Committee is that Our Cats from time to time gets show reports wrong. We hope Vince will hold his hand up when needed over this and continue to strive to put it right. On the other hand collating and publishing show reports must be a logistical nightmare, and given the number of shows, far greater than, for example, Our Dogs: Our Cats publishes on our reckoning about 30 A3 pages (i.e. 60 standard A4 pages) per fortnight of show reports in 7 point (very tiny) type submitted by independent judges at their leisure and even in rare cases apparently their discretion.

(It would be interesting to see a “league table” of judges’ punctuality and comprehensiveness in submitting their reports.) All of this vast amount of copy will need to be reviewed and collated but more significantly we understand roughly two thirds is submitted electronically, leaving approximately 20 A4 pages per fortnight to be manually typeset. We have grave reservation about the ability of any new and inexperienced publication to be able to manage such a large and high-pressure workflow anywhere near as well as is currently done, despite occasional weaknesses.

The present situation is a complete mess, probably the worst in the history of the GCCF. On the one hand GCCF has presumably signed a legal contract with the publishers of Fancy That, with potential financial penalties that could destabilise the organisation. On the other hand there has been a very major loss of confidence in GCCF amongst exhibitors and the fancy and more particularly a huge loss in business confidence in the proposed new journal, which would almost certainly have commercial and therefore financial consequences in relation to both advertising and subscription revenue.

One could not imagine a more difficult start for a new publication and it may be that the publishers of Fancy That are now contemplating seeking to extricate themselves from a contract that contains a poisoned chalice.

More likely, however, there will be no easy way out. Worse still are the ramifications about the nature and representativeness of GCCF in general which this issue has highlighted and which we predict will continue to reverberate for several years. It is not just as the Executive Committee argue in their statement via the chairman that the organisation needs to communicate with the fancy but that the organ- isation needs to hear and be responsive to the wider “membership”.

We therefore believe GCCF should reverse its decision in order to demonstrate that it is an organisation ultimately “owned” by us the people who turn out at shows, register our cats and kittens and buy the paper. We call on all cat clubs to express the strongest possible views on this matter via their council delegates both informally and especially at the next Council meeting.

In particular we urge action by all the cat clubs in the North and North West of England and the Persian breed clubs with which we have been associated by membership and showing over the last ten years and to which we will endeavour to send copies of this letter.

Tony Farson & Kath Jones, Notoriety Persians


 

A plea for sanity
Before we get carried away any more than we already have, can I make a plea for some sanity and some facts ?

As a holder of a GCCF prefix since 1967 and therefore a subscriber to this journal since the days of Fur & Feather, I am sick of reading the rubbish and innuendo contained, not only in some of the letters you have printed, but also in the editorial comments recently.

Let’s get one thing straight, the employees in the office are salaried, but the Executive Committee are NOT, as is the case with all the other GCCF committees. They all do this as a hobby, for our benefit and freely give of their time and in many cases, their own money, to attend these meetings. They are not a clique of bullies or a power crazy dictatorship, they are VOTED onto these committees at the electoral meeting of the full Council each year.

There is, therefore, the wherewithal to remove any individual not thought worthy of their position.

Council is made up of Delegates from each of the affiliated clubs and these delegates are appointed at the AGM of each club. The ordinary club members can propose and vote for the delegate, according to the rules of each club.

It is therefore not the answer to run to TICA or FIFE, the remedy lies in taking an active part in your own club/s.

Most clubs are crying out for good, willing members to join their committees, so instead of complaining, why not put something back into the Cat Fancy?

I note that the Editor says on page 5, column 3 of the 5th October edition of Our Cats, that most of the Archives are in his office. I think not. Rather, the archives to which the anonymous writer refers are the pedigree records, prefix holders, clubs and many other things held by the GCCF, so the Editor’s comment is incorrect.

In the same issue, bottom of page 2, column one, Our Cats response is to infer that the EC have made up the complaints levied against them, merely because they have not specified every complaint and the person making it. They also object to the EC looking into their accounts etc as if they had no business to do this. It is perfectly legal for anyone to look at the accounts of any limited company and these sort of jibes are not productive and should have been left firmly in the playground where they belong. They are certainly not what is expected of a professional publication and along with other similar comments, really only serve to illustrate why the EC have decided to pull the plug.

In the interests of fair and balanced journalism, I hope you will see fit to print this and not hide behind your right to withhold anything which you do not like.
Elizabeth Wildon

OUR CATS Comments: We have no problem in printing Elizabeth’s letter in full, as we have not hidden behind anything throughout this whole affair. In fact, it makes a change to receive one from this standpoint. Elizabeth’s point regarding delegates will, of course, be put to the test at the next delegates meeting later this month and she is right… that’s how the democratic process works. However, we are sure she will agree that power can corrupt and that is what people worry about when those at the top become too dominant. We would draw Elizabeth’s attention to the letter from Mr Bunce in this weeks issue as this puts the other side of the case rather well, if not in a rather worrying way.

Equally we agree with her point regarding the problem of people not joining committees, a point we have made on a regular basis in these columns.

Regarding archives, we do, of course, mean all the bound volumes of FUR AND FEATHER, CATS and OUR CATS which we have in our office. Some people like these… we have had many researchers here over the years.

Our concern regarding accounts was expressed because, in the interests of fair play, would the EC confirm that they have looked at all the financial backgrounds of the new publishers? We think not, especially as many of the EC have yet to even meet the new publishers, never mind check out their financial viability.

These are facts not playground fantasy.


 

We are following alternatives to GCCF
WE WILL not repeat the content of your published views. Suffice it to say, we agree with your contributors.

We would, however, like to point out some alternatives to those who are not happy with the GCCF. Having had some high profile cats, we are concerned about security. We have heard about (but have no positive proof) cases where substances have been added to cats’ food or water. Even where a cat has been poked in a sensitive area.

We have personal experience of a problem which would not have occurred had we been with our cat, as is possible at alternative shows. A while ago, we showed our PAT (Pets As Therapy) NFC who was BOB Neuter at the Supreme a couple of years ago. We were told he screamed - and few cats (especially not this one) scream for no reason. We were given two versions: (1) That he just screamed when sitting on the trolley, and (2) That the door to his pen was not closed properly and ‘someone’ slammed the door - possibly catching his foot - hence the scream. We are NOT making any allegations.

We were not there (as we could have been at alternative shows) so cannot make any judgment, other than we do not believe our cat would have screamed for no reason. We asked the show manager for details but received (apparently) indifferent silence.

For these reasons, we are stopping showing at GCCF shows and will follow the alternatives.
Perhaps we will be less likely to find ourselves facing a cat with 20 Imperials in the Open.
We commend the excellent www.wedont-fancythat.co.uk website, and suggest that it might go into more detail about the practicalities of exiting the GCCF and moving to alternatives.
Eric & Helena Fishlock-Lomax


 

Thank you
Through your pages, can we say a huge “thank you” to our many good friends for their concern during our recent ordeal, particularly: SIMON TWIGGE, HELEN MARRIOTT-POWER, DI PHILLIPS, PENNY & JOHN AKEHURST, JAN MOLIN, CHRIS TITTERINGTON, MALCOLM BEASLEY, ELAINE & JOHN ROBINSON (especially as Swindon was also awash for a while) and JANET & JOHN WILSHAW.

My apologies if I’ve missed anyone, probably due to me having water on the brain!

It gave us a really warm feeling to know that so many of you cared enough to ring or e-mail, so thanks a million. Things are almost back to normal - I say ‘almost’ as we have an addition to our household for a while - Colin’s son Nick, a fugitive from flooded Tewksbury, is staying with us while he decides what to do next.

Thanks also everyone, for the huge number of birthday cards that managed to find their way to our doorstep. We went to a funeral in the morning, but then I drove over to my brother in Swindon who gave me the best present of all - a lovely, long hot shower!

Incidentally, Radio Gloucester asked for collective nouns for bowsers - my offerings were “a quench of bowsers” (they liked that one best) or “a shower of bowsers”. You’ve got to laugh.........!

Anyway, many thanks to one and all once again.
Dorothy & Colin Stone


 

Back catalogues
I HAVE a number of boxes of catalogues from various shows over the years, and wondered if there might be anyone you knew of who would be interested in them.

Seems a shame just to throw them away. The catalogues are located in Derbyshire. We normally go to the Supreme, so could take them.

If you are interested, please call 01773 835654 or email woodlandsdogs@aol.com
Susan Davison