A sunny afternoon. A walled garden. Strawberries and cream with a home-made meringue on the side for good measure. Glasses of wine – red, white, rose: don’t mind if I do, thank you. A puppet
show. It was, indeed, a quintessentially English affair – the U3A’s annual Strawberry Tea Party.
We had been warned that there might be a shortage
of chairs and had been asked to bring our own if possible. As I was travelling by bus, this was something of a poser until I found in the garage one of those three-legged fold-up seats which was neat enough to be tucked inside a carrier bag. Problem
sorted! Though as it turned out it would have been more sensible not to bother as it proved to be a most uncomfortable perch and I was plenty early enough to nab a more, shall we say, regular kind of seat. My seat did also leave three deep holes in the lawn
when I finally unearthed it at home-time.
Bowls of of strawberries and cream were handed out and we all gratefully collected our (free) glasses of wine. Two quizzes
were circulated, one on flower names, the other a general knowledge quiz in which all the answers started with the letter J. At this point I discovered that I did not have enough hands...
We all looked really summery. Lots of the women were wearing long, summer dresses while a fair number of the fellas sported straw hats. My friend Avril twirled a lacy parasol; she looked a bit like Mary Poppins. But
without the bun, the umbrella and the carpet bag. Actually, now I come to think of it, she didn’t look a bit like Mary Poppins – though the parasol was evocative of that scene from the film, at the fair, with the roundabout and the penguins. I
had donned my own summer hat and sunglasses and, as a result, nobody seemed to recognise me. This may, however, have been down to the fact that Mr B was not with me – people are used to seeing us together, I think. Like bacon and eggs. Or beans
on toast. On my own, I am clearly invisible. Which is rather a neat oxymoron, don’t you think? You didn’t expect the blog to come over quite so grammatical, now did you?
Avril, Delia and I were making fantastic progress on the quizzes. We filled in every single flower name (we were particularly proud of penstemon and pelargonium) and most of the general knowledge questions though we
didn’t know the name of the film starring Robert Redford as an Alaskan fur trapper and we had to make a couple of wild stabs at a couple of others. In the end we had to hand in our papers because the puppet show was about to start.
Ah, the puppet show! The puppeteers had apparently made all the puppets themselves which reminded me of my brother, Phil, who, as a teenager, was something of an expert on the Making
of Puppets. One night he was found sleep-walking on his way downstairs, muttering: “I must get some more cup hooks.” This has been enshrined, ever since, in the family annals as a comment to which there really was no answer in the circumstances.
My brother is coming to tea on Thursday so I will be sure to remind him. I am not sure what he would have made of the Strawberry Tea Party puppet show – my favourite puppet was the skeleton which kept coming apart. “Pull yourself together!”
the puppeteer told him (Her? It?) We laughed. It would have been rude not to.
Guess what? We won the flower quiz. I collected the envelope and was mightily
excited to find a £10 note enclosed. Delia’s fella, Jim, won the general knowledge quiz, despite the fact that he didn’t know the name of the Robert Redford film either. Delia generously said Avril and I could share the £10 as
she would be able to share Jim’s prize tenner. What Jim had to say about this I don’t know otherwise I would surely have recorded it.
have it. A sunny, summer afternoon – with strawberries.