We are under strict instructions from our Chairman that we convenors must be in our places for the U3A Enrolment Day by 9.30 a.m. at the latest. This is so that our Chairman can harangue us – sorry, tell us anything
we need to know.
Mr B who, as regular readers know, does not generally take kindly to people telling him what to do, is remarkably compliant when it comes to our
Chairman. A former school teacher, I reckon she reminds him of someone from his own school-days, maybe a strict type who made him sit in the corner or write out countless lines “I will learn to behave myself” – you know the kind of thing.
I don’t suppose today’s youngsters are given lines to do anymore, maybe one of my younger readers could enlighten me? Not that I am suggesting, for a moment, that any of my younger readers ever find themselves in detention for even the most minor
Anyway, fear of the wrath of our Chairman should we turn up even a fraction of a minute past the allotted start time meant Mr B was hustling
me out of the house and into the car before I’d even finished drying my hair. It meant I looked a little dishevelled for the rest of the morning but I doubt anybody really noticed. We arrive at the hall in plenty of time, find the table allocated
to our Nomination Whist Group, and Mr B heads off into the kitchen to check whether tea and coffee is being served. You are probably thinking this was extremely thoughtful of him but what you don’t know is that as well as dragging me away from my hair-drier,
he also made me leave a half-full cup of coffee behind in the kitchen when he hauled me out to the car. It was the least he could do, I reckon. He comes back with two cups of coffee and a couple of biscuits (he has to eat mine as well as his own because
I am still, sadly, tasteless) and the news that, while the first cup was free, we will have to pay the princely sum of 30p for any subsequent cups we might require to fortify us through the morning. Cheap at the price, I reckon.
As our Chairman reminds us that we are all Very Important People to the smooth running of our U3A branch, even if we don’t always turn up to Convenors’ Meetings, I notice
that Delia and Jim have just arrived ten minutes late. They don’t look the least bit abashed at being late, even when our Chairman breaks off from her spiel to yell at them to sit down. I check with them later and, yes, they turned up a little bit late
on purpose, just for the hell of it. The Chairman of the Convenors Group has now taken hold of the microphone and is telling us that we are the “glue” that holds the U3A together. He seems mighty pleased with this telling metaphor and repeats
it several times. “Stick with it,” I tell Mr B. He hasn’t been listening so he doesn’t get the joke. It wasn’t a very good one, to be fair.
At precisely 10 ‘clock the doors are opened and a veritable flood of people, who have been queuing in a disorderly fashion outside, erupt into the hall. Enrolment Day has begun!
This is what happens on Enrolment Day. People who haven’t yet paid their £25 membership queue up at a table at the far end of the room, under the window, opposite the stage, where they can pay up and receive a small printed
membership card, a list of groups they can join and a copy of the latest newsletter. They are then free to join all the paid-up members who are circulating the hall, stopping at various tables to check whether they might want to try their hand at Mah-Jongg,
or Card-Making, or re-reading Jane Austen’s novels – or even Nomination Whist, of course (although our group is already over-subscribed, we are very popular Mr B and I) . I am sharing a table with the convenor of the Jane Austen group and could
easily be tempted but it meets on Friday mornings which is, of course, the time of our Singing for Pleasure Choir. There’s a new Spanish Conversation group starting up – I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish – and a group called
Rail Boarders which gets on trains and goes places. I could join so many groups that I would never have any time for anything else – and with my Extraordinary Eight grandchildren about to become the Triumphant Ten, I need space in the diary and time
on my hands.
It seems a very, very long morning, even though it is lovely to meet friends who we haven’t seen all summer but we have been told in no uncertain
terms that we are not allowed to leave our posts until the clock strikes twelve. Lots of people disobey the edict from above but Mr B and I stay stoically at our table.
We are the glue, remember? We stick at it...