When you have known a person for more than fifty years, you occasionally like to spring a surprise on him. Just to show you can.
So today when I realised that I could get all the way home from the Middle of the Darling Daughters’ home by the ridiculously early time of 11.30 a.m. I decided to extend my journey (two trains thus far) by taking a bus and turning up at the Heene
Community Centre in time to surprise Mr B in the coffee lounge there. I knew exactly where to find him recovering from the weekly Singing for Pleasure choir session. All the way in the bus, and all the way along the road leading to the Community
Centre, I hugged to myself the anticipation of seeing his face when he saw me across a crowded room. “Surprise! Surprise!” I would carol, in my best Cilla Black voice. I even practised it a few times. Well, not on the bus, even I am not that silly
– but under my breath as I trotted along Heene Road. Wouldn't he be SO surprised to see me?
It’s a funny thing about surprises. I have never
particularly wanted to be whisked away on a surprise holiday, for example, because I always think part of the excitement of a holiday is the anticipation. It’s the buying of the guide book, the turning out of the wardrobe in the search for summer sandals,
the weighing up the value for money of one sun cream against another. Plus the endless conversations about where shall we go, what shall we do, what will we see. To be taken by surprise would take a lot of the fun out of a holiday for me.
I do remember being invited to a Surprise Birthday Party once. The Birthday Girl had been kept well away all through the day at a health spa. She had clearly had a
wonderful, relaxing day and I have to say that I caught a glimpse of her face when she turned up at the pub where she was looking forward to a quiet drink only to find thirty of her close and not-so-close friends all ready to trip the light fantastic. Her
poor face went through a whole range of emotions in a matter of seconds. “What a surprise!” she said, weakly – then, catching sight of her husband’s beaming smile: “WHAT a surprise!” she repeated, with something so
nearly approaching rapture that she won my unreserved admiration.
I had a rather unfortunate surprise myself today. Last Sunday I had been congratulating myself for firing off three separate News
Releases to local papers in the Basingstoke area to promote the next production of the Limelight Theatre Group. All three papers responded positively that they would be using my wise words in future issues. The first article appeared yesterday and, due
to some inexplicable computer glitch, it includes a random paragraph which has nothing at all to do with “Fame”. Instead there’s a quote from my young friend Connor, who played the part of Horton the Elephant in the Limelighters’ last
production of Seussical Jr, waxing lyrical about what fun it is to lollop about like a elephant, rather than walking. Now let’s be clear about this: there are no elephants in “Fame”. Nor do any of the characters lollop. At least, not
as far as I am aware.
Of course it may be that this is all a cunning ploy by Connor to ensure that nobody is allowed to forget his truly sterling performance as
Horton the Elephant. I imagine it would be perfectly possible for someone gifted in computer technology (in addition to lolloping) to embed a totally random paragraph in my otherwise excellent and accurate News Release. Obviously this is not something
I would be able to do for myself (even if I wished to). I’m not too good at lolloping either. I have now sent amended News Releases out, complete with grovelling apologies and am hoping there will be no more mentions of That Elephant and, hence,
no more unpleasant surprises. Unless, of course, Connor (aka Horton the Elephant) knows differently...
I expect you are wondering about my reception this morning
when I turned up at the Heene community centre. Did he rise from his seat, spilling his coffee as he moved in exquisite slow motion towards me, gathering me into his welcoming arms with a sob of happiness? Well, no, not exactly. I was a teeny bit
disappointed, if you really want to know, as Mr B took it all completely in his stride. He was pleased to see me, of that I am in no doubt – but he didn’t look the least bit, well, overwhelmed at my unexpected appearance at his side. He did
stand up - and he did give me a kiss and a couple of pounds so that I could join the queue at the counter and order myself a coffee and a bacon bap.
I should have
tried lolloping towards him, in true Horton fashion. Now that would have surprised him.
Or, quite possibly, not.