It's five to nine in the morning and we are waiting in the car park for the local pub, the Henty Arms, to open. I feel extremely decadent.
By "we" I mean our friends,
Delia and Jim, plus Mr B and me. We have decided to enjoy a cooked breakfast at the pub which will, we believe, strengthen our resolve for what lies ahead - the U3A Convenors' Meeting. It is unfortunate that, although I knew very well that we were going out
for breakfast, I still automatically made myself a bowl of Oats So Simple cinnamon flavoured porridge when I got up. I really am A Creature of Habit. Mr B suggests that I can always restrict myself to coffee and toast but my stomach (of which, as you well
know, I Am Always Thinking) would almost certainly have plenty to say about that.
Convenors, by the way, are the people who organise various interest groups on behalf of the U3A (or University of the Third
Age to give this august institution its full title.) Mr B and I are in charge of the Nomination Whist group which meets once a fortnight in our home. All U3A interest groups are supposed to be broadly educational which is a bit of a challenge in the case of
our group, which is more or less totally about fun and companionship.
I therefore have to invent ways of demonstrating that we are getting better at our chosen card game. We have termly awards for
the Most Improved Player, the Player with the Highest Average Score and so on. Unfortunately some players' performance actually seems to deteriorate over time ( I am a prime example) which belies the educational benefits to some extent. Last session I showed
everyone how to play Nomination Whist the way the Darling Daughter in Law plays it. That must be educational, don't you think?
The pub opens sharp at 9 a.m. so we find a table (not too difficult as we are
the only customers) and order our food. Delia explains to the waitress who takes our order that we need to have eaten and be on our way by 9.45 a.m. in order to get to our meeting. We cup our hands round our mugs of coffee to warm them up (our hands, not the
mugs) and discuss how we can liven up the forthcoming meeting. Delia and Jim are very loyal attendees, Mr B and I rather less so - but then Saturday mornings we are often otherwise engaged on Family Business.
clock on the wall ticks the seconds by and its hands move, inexorably, round to 9.35 a.m. We are going to be hard put to it to eat our breakfast and get to the meeting on time. Jim says it doesn't matter if we arrive a little late. Mr B mutters that, as far
as he is concerned, it doesn't matter if we don't arrive at all. Mr B is not a fan of Convenors' Meetings; he only agreed to come today when Delia held out the prospect of a Henty Breakfast.
alarm sounds but we sit tight. Presumably someone will come and shoo us out if necessary? I say that we are the kind of intrepid souls who, in wartime days, would have refused to obey the siren's call. The fire alarm eventually stops ringing and the Henty
Arms is still standing. At 9.45 a.m. the waitress arrives to ask us if we want brown bread or white bread for our toast. We tell her we are "All White" which we all think is terribly funny (say it quickly, if you don't quite get it.) The waitress clearly doesn't
get the joke and bustles off, presumably to the kitchen. It dawns on us, slowly, that actually we are far from "All White" or even "All Right" given that we now have less than ten minutes to eat our breakfast and make a dash for the village hall.
Finally breakfast arrives and most delicious it is too. Apparently the cooking of it was held up by a "gas problem" which makes us wonder if we should have paid more attention to the fire alarm but it is too late to
worry about that now.
When we arrive at the meeting, it is to find that (i) it has started without us and (ii) there are no spare chairs. I raid the main hall to find some more. The Chairman of the meeting
thoughtfully goes over the early business again for our benefit.
The Big Topic for the meeting is whether, in the event of a member being seriously ill or popping his or her clogs ( and given the age of our
membership this happens half a dozen times a year) it should be down to Convenors to send a card / flowers / expressions of sympathy - or the responsibility of the Committee. Feelings run high. Jim says that the quarterly newsletter should carry details of
members who have died. The meeting chairman expresses the opinion that members, all of us let's face it given our Great Age, with a seat booked in God's Waiting Room, would find this totally depressing and would start to imagine their own demise.
Someone suggests we need a Welfare Secretary. Someone else thinks a Sub-committee should be established. Someone else altogether asks when an illness is serious enough to warrant the sending of a Get Well message.
Our branch chairman relates the story of how she bought such a card and was gathering messages within it from all her group members when the proposed recipient turned up, all hale and hearty. I wanted to ask if she kept the card for the next time he fell ill
but this seemed a little insensitive.
On the way out everyone agrees it has been an interesting meeting, even though nobody is quite sure exactly what was decided. I imagine we will find out one day, possibly
when we fall ill and receive a Get Well card. It's something to look forward to. Or not.
We have been given the date of the next meeting. It is on my birthday. Even the lure of a Henty Breakfast won't persuade
me to spend my birthday morning at a Convenors' Meeting.
I think I may just be a Otherwise Engaged.