Our local branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age) is one big happy family. Don't just take my word for it - it is written in bold letters at the bottom of our new-look newsletter. So it must be true, don't you
Because not every one of the 500 plus members of our big, happy family is on email, our tireless Membership Secretary, Roland, has come up with a cunning plan to keep everyone properly informed without
incurring the expense of postage stamps. He sent out a call for volunteers to hand deliver monthly newsletters and any other essential information to those who have not yet (or possibly will not ever) succumbed to the joint frustrations and fascinations of
new technology. Something like 48 of us have volunteered, of whom I am (of course) one.
The fact that so many of us have proved willing to play Postman Pat (with or without black and white cat) means that
each of us will have only three or four deliveries to make. A large brown envelope appeared on my door mat yesterday with three names and addresses pasted on the front and three smart newsletters enclosed within. Alongside each name and address a number which
I took to indicate how far from my house each delivery address would be. One house is just a couple of hundred yards along the road; one is 0.2 miles from my house; the third is 0.4 miles away, albeit in the opposite direction. You have to admit, Our Roland
is a Man of Detail and I admire that in a Membership Secretary.
I reckon being a Newsletter Delivery Person will bring the same kind of advantages as owning a dog in terms of exercise. Though a dog, to be
fair, would require walking at least twice a day while my Newsletter Delivery Duty will only exercise me once a month. Still, everyone has to start somewhere. I set off with goodwill and my book of local maps, just in case I get lost.
Does anyone know, for certain, if there is some kind of rationale as to which end of a road Number 1 will be? It would be helpful to know, for example, whether Number 73 of one particular road is at the "shops end" or the "non shops
end." Still, I will know next time, I suppose.
I decide it would be friendly - and fitting of our big, happy family - if I actually call at each door and introduce myself to the occupant, explaining the purpose
of my visit and handing over the newsletter with a cheery comment. This works beautifully at the first house where I am greeted with a smile and invited in - an invite I sadly have to decline, though with a promise of possibly next time.
The second house is not too far away but nobody is in so I can't introduce myself and have to resort to putting the newsletter through the letterbox without explanation. Never mind, I tell myself, maybe next time. I am quite
enjoying myself in a strange sort of way.
Which is when things start to go wrong. Looking at my book of maps, it seems a good idea to fit in a trip to the shops to collect a couple of items requested by Mr
B when he saw me donning my coat and making for the door. I can then take a slight detour home in order to deliver the third newsletter. It is starting to rain but, hey, how far can it be? I march off determinedly. If I walk fast enough, my hair won't get
wet. It's one of the laws of physics. Isn't it?
I have lived in my house for almost thirty years but in all that time I have never had cause to walk along the
particular road I now take. Life is full of new experiences. It appears to be a friendly road. In one front garden there is a container full of windfall apples for passers-by to help themselves and carry off home for the making of apple pies and / or crumbles.
A little further along, lined up on the garden wall, several slightly spooky carved pumpkins, also on offer to anyone who wants to impress without having to do Something Dangerous with a knife.
Number 73 seems
a very long way along the road but I get there in the end. Nobody is in and there is a notice in the window saying that uninvited callers will be reported to the neighbourhood policing team. I wonder what the definition of "uninvited" is? Can you be uninvited
but welcome? I do hope so. I post the newsletter through the letter box and hope for the best.
I am now on my homeward journey but I seem to have been walking much further than I had anticipated. A helpful
road sign reveals that I have somehow drifted into a completely different street. I am officially lost. I surmise that it must have been all the twists and turns in the road. Where are the Romans when you need them? You have to hand it to the Romans: they
knew how to build good, straight roads. Let's hear it for the Romans!
As I turn the key in the lock of our front door, Mr B calls out: "Is that you?" Perhaps he reckons I may be an Uninvited Caller. "You've
been a long time!" he accuses me. Or maybe he was just worried by my long absence.
Next time I will be better prepared. I will know where I am going and how far down each road I need to trot. I will make time
to have a cuppa with the sweet lady at Number 75.
Above all, I will NOT get lost.