"Hallo!" I trill, cheerily, "Welcome to the monthly meeting!"
Yes, indeed, I am on Meet and Greet Duty, as requested by Avril, the newly elected and Esteemed Chairman
of the Worthing U3A (University of the Third Age). I think I have my patter off, well, pat - though I say so myself as shouldn't.
Avril tells me that one of my duties is to identify new members and direct
them to a row of reserved seats where she will be able to search them out and provide them with a proper Chairman's Welcome. This is slightly more difficult than I had envisaged as I can't always tell if a person is a newbie or a long-time member. The last
thing I want to do is to upset a member of, say, ten years standing by implying that they have made so little a mark on the group that they have not been recognised. Heaven forefend! But nor do I want to let a new member slip out of my clutches before I have
Done My Duty By Them.
In the end I find that I recognise the newbies by the way they hesitate at the entrance, look around a trifle timidly, before appearing about to make a bolt. "You're new, aren't you?"
I say and they nod gratefully. Did they but know, I am much more grateful than they are.
Our friends Delia and Jim arrive and I point out where Mr B is sitting, cup of coffee and ginger biscuit in hand, saving
seats for them. I explain why I am standing here with a slightly manic grin on my face. Jim says he was wondering why I was standing in the way...
The Lovely Linda, leader of our Birdy Group, has set up a
display about the Discovery Challenge which is a kind of Duke of Edinburgh Award for older folk. Being always up for a challenge, I collect a form and explanatory leaflet. Mr B suggests that I am only undertaking this challenge because I need new material
to keep the Daily Blog fresh and lively. I decline to comment. The truth is sometimes painful. I do know, however, that grand-daughters Katie and Eleanor - currently pursuing their Gold and Bronze D of E awards respectively - will be stoutly on my side and
keen to hear of my progress.
Avril has asked me to keep an eye out for our speaker. He has come some distance and, she says, will need a cuppa and a biscuit when he arrives. The trouble is, he doesn't. Arrive,
that is. By the time I take my seat next to Mr B, we are still speaker-less. Poor Pam, whose job is to organise the speakers for our monthly meetings is stabbing numbers into her mobile phone, as she tries to make contact with the Tardy One. To fill the time,
we draw the raffle. Ann, our cribbage pal, wins yet another prize, her fourth in recent meetings. This despite the fact that, on welcoming her to the meeting, I had explicitly told her I didn't expect her to win yet another raffle prize. Next month, I tell
her, I will ask her to buy my tickets for me.
I am worrying what will happen if Our Speaker fails to arrive. Most of all I am thinking of Avril - it's her first meeting as Chairman, she really doesn't need
this. Will we all have to go home early? Or will somebody come up with a way of filling the next hour or so? Perhaps with conjuring tricks. Or a sing song.
Even as I worry, I notice that an elderly
fella I don't recognise is engaged in discussion with Our Esteemed Chairman. He is either a newbie I have failed to collar - or our speaker. It is an enormous relief to discover that he is, indeed, our speaker, all prepared to entertain us on the topic of
"Can't Pay, Won't Pay." He isn't the best of our speakers but he is marginally better than the fella whose trousers kept slipping down every time he changed slides.
Tomorrow, when our Nomination Whist
Group meets, we will share verdicts on the speaker, his topic and his delivery. We will congratulate Avril on her first meeting as Chairman. I don't imagine anyone will comment on my welcome. If they do, by any chance, I have my response ready.
"You're welcome!" I shall say.