In the Olden Days when I was a working girl, emails were The Bane of My Life.
I was apparently among the top five members
of staff in the whole organisation for emails sent and received – and it felt like it. Since I galloped off the corporate carousel very nearly eleven months ago (how time flies when you’re having fun!) my email traffic has dwindled to an
infinitesimal daily number by comparison.
My favourite emails arrive almost every day from the Youngest Grandchild who displays a quite astonishing aptitude for
taking photographs of himself using an iPhone and emailing them to me. Remember he is not quite seven weeks old. He accompanies his photos with tender messages: “Look Nanni how long my eye-lashes have grown!” or “See me in my bouncer!”
(see pic) or “Look, Auntie Karen, I am wearing your outfit!” (This last was sent to the Youngest of the Darling Daughters but I was copied in. Baby Boy has clearly already learnt what cc means. You have to admit, it’s impressive.)
Apart from these treasured emails, I’ve been reduced to around half a dozen emails a day – invitations to lunch (I am fast becoming a Lady Who Lunches) for example
and exciting offers from travel companies, plus, every so often, a lovely, chatty email from an old friend. So far, so manageable – but now, all of a sudden, my in-box is bulging.
It’s all down to the rash offer I made to organise a Questers visit to the local Museum for a “behind the scenes” romp through its Costume Collection. Hot on the heels of my Declaration of Intent, the super-efficient
Questers convenor sent me an Excel spreadsheet containing the names of more than 40 people who are desperate to come on a behind the scenes visit with me. I have to say I had hoped I'd also left Excel spreadsheets behind me, all those months ago. Unfortunately
an incredibly-helpful person called Caroline-from-the-Museum (this being the way she introduces herself on the phone) tells me that, even if we have two back-to-back talks, only 20 of us can be accommodated.
My first task, therefore, has been to cross-reference all the 40 plus people on the Excel spreadsheet with the membership database (also helpfully supplied by our convenor with strict instructions that I am to delete it from
my computer as soon as I have finished with it) and email them all to ask if they still want to come. I gave them till the end of April to come back to me.
they are coming, thick and fast. Some say they want to come; some say they don’t. Some tell me all about their holiday plans or the visit from their daughter who lives in New York or the latest problem they are having with the hospital – from which
I have to deduce whether they mean they will be free on September 5th, the date of our visit, or not.
Some say can I put their name down for a visit
on a later date – even though we don’t, as yet, have a visit organised for a later date. Some say, please can they be on the 10 a.m. visit and others will only be able to come if they can be on the 11.15 a.m. talk. I decide to draw up a table
so that I can keep track of all these demands. This is beginning to feel like hard work.
If I still have more than 20 people on my list, once everyone who will
be on holiday, looking after grandchildren, washing their hair or engaged in some other nefarious business has crossed themselves off my list, then apparently I have to draw names out of a hat. Mr B says that surely I will make sure that the names of
the people I know and like will emerge, successfully, from the hat? I am horrified at such an assumption. Certainly not, I tell him, haughtily, and stalk off to find a hat appropriate for such a momentous task.
I only offered to organise this particular visit because I thought it would be easy. It didn’t involve coach travel, for one thing, or food orders, or large amounts of money to be collected in. I hadn’t bargained
for the emails – and this is only my starter for ten. My next email will need to inform those who have been successful in the draw and commiserate with those whose names have not been drawn out. I can foresee arguments and upset.
What with the spreadsheets, the database and the email traffic, it's almost (but only almost) like being back at work...