I really, really hate letting people down.
But that's what I had to do this morning when I woke up and realised that there was no way I could fit in everything I had undertaken
to do today. Something had to give. Mr B was generally supportive but in a "What did I tell you?" tone of voice. It is true, he has been telling me. Repeatedly.
So, feeling a right heel, I telephoned the Honorary
Secretary of the Bowls Club to tender my apologies for this morning's Committee Meeting. I had already said I could only make half the meeting, due to a pressing engagement elsewhere (of which more later) but I couldn't help hearing the note of disappointment
in her voice. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was displeasure because the Hon Sec is a thoroughly charming person who would never express anything as strong as displeasure. Even though my belated apology did mean she would have to take the minutes of the
whole meeting, rather than only the last half, after I had to leave. Mr B was sanguine about the whole affair, pointing out that I am doing the Bowls Club a favour anyway by agreeing to take on the position of Assistant Secretary and General Dogsbody, especially
as I am not a bowler myself so have absolutely nothing to gain from my elevated position such as being selected for matches, for example. Try as I might, I couldn't quite see it that way, so I felt guilty for the next two hours.
Then - the biter bit! I received a telephone call from the Really Rather Wonderful Natasha at Voluntary Action Worthing to give me the bad news that the person who was going to give me a lift to Burgess Hill for the Network Away Day we were attending
together was Proper Poorly and would be unable to accompany me. Served me right, I can hear you thinking.
I googled train times and managed to get myself on a train with minutes to spare. Only then, as I took
my seat with a contented sigh, did I realise that I actually had no idea where I was going at the other end. I am sure I have been there before - but it was a long time ago and I drove there. Orientation has never been my strong point. I was also without internet
connection so couldn't do the obvious. Instead I phoned the Really Rather Wonderful Natasha and she pulled up all the details on her computer and talked me through the route from station to the office where the meeting was being held.
She directed me in quite splendid detail, providing the names of pubs and shops I would pass on my way. For example, I knew that on my way I could call in for a hamburger at Uncle Sam's and get my nails done at Perfect Nails. What
a treat! If only I had the time...Natasha said that if I found myself lost, a Poor Wandering One in the centre of Burgess Hill, she would have a go at tracking me on line. I felt a little spooked at the thought.
Thanks to her instructions I find the venue without a problem. I pass on the hamburger, you will be pleased to hear, while I sadly decide that I do not have the time to have my fingernails perfected by Perfect Nails.
When I say I find the venue without a problem, I mean that I manage to arrive outside No 38 Church Road without a problem. Unfortunately it appears to be a branch of Lloyds Bank which wasn't what I was expecting. There is someone else loitering outside,
looking every bit as bewildered as I do. She tells me she is looking for the Citizens Advice Bureau. I suggest that we take our courage into our hands and storm the bank. Someone must be able to point us in the right direction, I say, hopefully. My new companion
agrees but says something like "After you..."
Inside the bank a most helpful young woman shows us a back door through which we can access the car park. By turning left, she advises, we will find what
we are looking for. By this time we have managed to pick up a few more Poor Wandering Ones looking for various offices which are apparently all located within the same building. I feel like the Pied Piper leading the way.
Finally I arrive at my destination where I am invited to help myself to lunch and sit myself down. Because I am still struggling to eat sandwiches, crisps, biscuits and the like, due to my sore mouth and general tastelessness, I was hoping for a fruit
bowl. Or, more specifically, a banana or two. I have to make do with grapes, of which I eat copious amounts over the next four hours.
Yes, indeed, dear reader - it was a four hour meeting. Not counting travel
there and back. Maybe I should have chosen the Bowls Committee meeting which would have been over well before lunchtime. I don't have to say anything at the Bowls Committee either, due to my lowly position as Assistant Secretary in charge of the Minutes. At
the meeting I attended, people expected me to have Things of Interest and Importance to impart but as it was the first of these meetings I had attended I wasn't sure whether my input was either interesting or important.
I did have an riveting argument with the Chairman of a neighbouring organisation who, when I introduced myself as the Chair of Voluntary Action Worthing, told me I couldn't be a Chair, as chairs were to be sat upon. I should call myself Madam Chairman,
he told me in an I Will Brook No Arguments voice. Even Mr B, at his most dictatorial, would not address me thus. I explained that, as I chair the meetings, the title of Chair seems perfectly appropriate and, anyway, I don't want to be called Madam Chairman
which seems inaccurate on every count. I could see from the expression on his face that he obviously had my card marked: Proper Madam.
I am delighted to find one of my old friends from my days as a Working
Gal is also at the meeting. She tells me there is no way I am to take the train home as she will happily give me a lift. This is very kind of her as I suspect it may be a little out of her way. But, oh how lovely to have a half an hour chat over the course
of the journey back, to find out all about her brilliant daughters and the amazing things they have been doing.
"Any time you need a lift, just ask!" is her parting shot.
Next time, I'll know better. On every count.