Our postman looked drenched through, much like the proverbial drowned rat. His hair hung in sopping tendrils about his poor, wet face. The letters in his hands were turning into papier mâché even as I watched.
Postman Pat eyed my umbrella with envy. Would I be prepared to sell him my umbrella for a million pounds? he asked. Reader, I did not hesitate for a second. My umbrella - decorated with scenes from London Town - was
a present from my sister and was therefore Beyond Price. Besides I still had to walk the rest of the way to the bus stop, wait in the rain for the Pulse bus, then make it to the Library - I needed my umbrella. Possibly not quite as much as Postman Pat who
was only half way through his round but then it was my umbrella after all and possession is nine-tenths of the law. Or is that the amount of an ice-berg hidden beneath the sea? Hopefully it's both.
remember to tell my sister how highly prized her umbrella was. She will be well pleased, I am sure. Especially when I tell her what I turned down. She will be proud of me and my excellent sense of prioritisation.
Apart from the postman and me, there were not too many people out and about this morning. That was not surprising given that only postmen and those with Somewhere To Go would venture out in the pouring rain. I was one of the latter, as in, someone with
Somewhere To Go. In my case I was bound for the Library where I was expected for this week's session at the Summer Reading Challenge desk. Can't let the little readers down, you know.
Except that, over the
whole of my two hour shift, only two youngsters braved the storms and appeared at the desk to tell my fellow volunteer, Tashi, and me about the books they had read. Usually two hours will vanish in an instant, so busy will we be, but today time hung heavily
on our hands.
We took a box of registration cards each and re-ordered them according to the alphabet. Over 900 children have now signed up at our library and 93 have already completed the challenge by reading
six books. Tashi and I commented on the very unusual names children are given these days. We have a Reef, several Skys and two or three Summers. Just one Summer would be sufficient, we agreed, gazing out disconsolately at the people passing by outside, umbrellas
aloft. One family, Tash noted, had four children, their names beginning, in turn, with an A, a B, a C and a D. We whiled away a happy quarter of an hour guessing what they would name the rest of their off-spring, should they manage a whole alphabet. Okay,
I admit that is an unlikely scenario but it helped to pass the time.
We also wasted a bit of time trying out the revolving doors which keep sticking. At least,
Tashi tried out the doors, I just sat and laughed when, time after time, she found herself imprisoned until another customer entered. I could have gone to her rescue but then I would have had to leave my post which would have meant wheeling our trolley (which
we are not allowed to leave on pain of death or something equally unpleasant) into the staff room. Besides it was very, very funny. I think I may be turning into a teenager under the influence of my fellow volunteers.
Normally I don't take a break during a two hour shift but Tashi and I decided we would take turns to make a trip to the staff room for a drink and a biscuit. I went first and found the staff room full of Library staff on their lunch break. I couldn't
help but notice that one chair in their cosy circle had been left empty, save for a cardboard face on a stick. I waited till all but a couple had returned to their posts before asking about this. It seems a much-loved colleague had been moved to a neighbouring
library after more than ten years - and her fellows were not prepared to forget her. My informant pointed out that the former colleague's smiling face also appeared on the staff notice board as well as among the numerous Health & Safety posters. Lest they
Tashi didn't spend long on her break; she said she felt a bit uncomfortably out of place in the staff room. This is one of the benefits of being an Aged Volunteer rather than a Teen - I still remember
the atmosphere of the staff room from my days as a Working Gal while for school-girl Tashi it probably smacks of Forbidden Territory.
At 2 p.m. we handed over to the next shift. One of our replacements had
the surname Usher, which was my maiden name. I wanted so much to ask her if she was afflicted by the Usher Gene. Maybe next time I see her?
The sun was coming out as I left the Library. My postman will be
glad he didn't hand over his hard-earned cash for my umbrella. I headed into town to buy congratulations cards for my two eldest grandkids who, as I confidently expected, passed their exams with flying colours (see previous blog) and bedding for The Duracell
Bunny who is coming to stay this weekend.
No, not a bale of hay. The very thought!