Mr B and I were back at the Bowls Club this afternoon – not for another game show but because we were on Tea Duty. It was, Mr B informed me a trifle grumpily, one of the busiest matches to be on Tea Duty because
there were six rinks playing. This didn’t mean an awful lot to me but I put on my best horror-struck face as he seemed to be expecting some kind of reaction from me.
We had to go straight to the Bowls Club from our Friday morning choir session. When we arrived at the community centre for choir at 9.30 this morning, one of our number was waving about a newspaper cutting from the esteemed Evening Argus, with a lovely
photograph and write-up about our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel. Several people had already asked the girl in the office for photo-copies, but when I went to ask for one, she said, could I find out how many more people wanted photo-copies so that
she could run off a bulk lot, rather than dozens of single copies. Somehow or other, I always get lumbered with this kind of extra job. I think maybe I just have that kind of face. One that has “MUG” written across it.
Anyway, we found time for a bacon bap and a coffee in the community centre cafe before heading off to the Bowls Club. This week we managed to steer clear of conversations about
death (see last week’s blog) concentrating on much more cheerful topics such as bird-watching, the joy of joining different interest groups with like-minded people and the excellence of the cheese scones.
The kitchen at the Bowls Club is small and perfectly formed. Actually, it is more small than perfectly formed – but it is extremely well-equipped with everything you could possibly want as a Tea Monitor and much
else beside. Mr B and I check to see who else is on Tea Duty with us, only to discover that the gent in question is on holiday in Devon. It seems unlikely that he will drive back for Tea Duty. Mr B gets rather steamed up about this with the result that rather
more people than we need volunteer to help us. I know one should never turn a volunteer away but, really, that kitchen wasn’t big enough for all of us.
like me, you have never been on a full-scale Tea Duty before, then there is an extremely helpful and detailed list typed up and stuck on a cupboard door. (I have been on one Tea Duty before but it was small-scale compared with today. It didn’t involve
buttering currant bread for a start.) Mr B told me he knew exactly what to do and set about our task with zeal. I, taking a rather more cautious approach, started reading aloud from the list of instructions. This infuriated Mr B who thought I was telling him
what to do. The heat in the kitchen was rising and it wasn’t totally down to the fact that the urn was boiling away merrily in the background.
made a start on buttering the currant bread but took umbrage when I pointed out that each slice was supposed to be cut diagonally not straight, like his first two slices. I took over the buttering which was quite therapeutic all things considered. Mr
B set out the plates of biscuits. I read aloud from the list of Instructions: “Be generous with the biscuits.” Mr B was not amused and retorted that he had, in fact, been generosity itself in his choice of ginger nuts, jammy dodgers, custard
creams and pink wafers. He had even smuggled out the only two fig rolls left in the biscuit container to his friend because he knew he was very partial to a fig roll.
I have to admit that I sneaked a few extra biscuits onto each plate when Mr B was not looking because I imagined that most of the 48 players arriving for tea any minute were probably, like me, Always Thinking of Their Stomachs. I would have quite
liked to ring the bell to signal the start of tea time but I could see that Mr B was really, really looking forward to doing this. It must have been his Inner Head Master.
Washing up would have been a trial but we had the Heavenly Helene to help us. She dictated the Order of Play from the word go – plates and saucers first, then cups, then cutlery, then tea-pots, sugar bowls and milk jugs. I cleared the tables
and did a grand job with the vacuum cleaner, picking up all the crumbs from the currant bread and biscuits. Anything to keep me out of the kitchen.
At home after
all this excitement, Mr B suggested that, rather than cook up something delicious for our dinner, we book a table at our favourite Indian restaurant. I didn’t take much persuading.
However much you love somebody (and I do, I do!) there is only so much time you can spend with them in a small (albeit perfectly formed) kitchen...