My friend Avril, Esteemed Chairman of the Worthing branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age) has asked me to go along to a New Members' Meeting to tell them all about being a convenor of an interest group. In my
case, our Nomination Whist group which meets at our house once a fortnight on a Wednesday afternoon.
Avril says she will ask me to speak first as I am good at talking. This might, or might not, be a compliment
but, as regular readers know by now, I make a point of assuming I am being paid a compliment unless the contra-indications are such as to make self-deception impossible. I might have been thinking better of my willing acceptance of Avril's invitation were
it not for Roland and Shirley who said they would be out bright and early buying Danish pastries for the new members' delectation. I do so love a Danish pastry.
I had checked time and venue with Our Esteemed
Chairman the day before and turned up at the Ferring Village Hall exactly a quarter of an hour before the meeting was due to start. A quarter of an hour early is just about the perfect timing in my book. It's not so early that there's nowhere to sit because
people are still setting out chairs and tables - nor is it so late that Her In Charge is worrying that you might have forgotten to turn up.
I'd had to park quite a long way up the road but there I was, only
slightly out of breath and congratulating myself on having arrived in such good time, given that I had only rolled out of bed an hour beforehand. Unfortunately, as I was soon to discover, pride comes before a fall.
In the Main Hall, a Christmas Fair was in full swing. It was clear to me that this was not the New Members' Meeting. Promising myself to pay a visit to the Christmas Fair once I had fulfilled my duty, I set off along the corridor for the small hall.
Tables and chairs had been arranged in friendly fashion while an array of cakes was set out, along with cups and saucers, on a long trestle table. I didn't recognise the woman who came to meet me but then I don't know everyone. "Is this the New Members' Meeting?"
I enquired, politely. No, it wasn't, I was informed. "This is the Pop-Up Cafe."
Now, you know me. I love nothing more than a cafe, whether it be the Pop-up or any other variety. But it had dawned on me that
I was in the Wrong Place completely. It was now just ten minutes to go before the start of the meeting and I didn't know where I was supposed to be.
I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to think clearly
enough to convince myself that there was probably only one other possible venue - the hall where we hold our monthly meetings. I scooted to the car, executed a quite remarkable three point turn in the road and set off in (hopefully) the right direction.
It was such a relief to see Avril at the door as I arrived at a minute to ten. And Shirley in the kitchen dispensing welcome cups of coffee. Not to mention plates of delicious Danish pastries on every table. I felt as
if I had come home.
My little talk went down well, I think, though nobody put up their hands when Avril asked if any of the new members thought they would like to convene a group of their own so I can't have
been that convincing. I did raise a laugh, however, when I told them of the time when our meeting coincided with a visit from the gasman to fit our new boiler. As he watched the steady procession of people making their way along our garden path to join us
at the card tables set out in our living room, I swear he thought he had stumbled on an illegal gambling den.
Now, here's the thing. Was it my fault I went to the wrong place? I was so sure I'd checked on
the venue beforehand.
I discussed this with my friend Norma who sat next to me in Church this morning. She reminded me that last week when the microphone went wrong so that nobody could hear the first reading
she had been convinced that it was her fault because she she hadn't adjusted her hearing aid properly.
Why do we immediately think it must be our fault when something goes wrong, we asked each other. I haven't
known Norma for very long but on this showing I feel we are destined to become Kindred Spirits.
For once, I don't think I'm wrong.