We are discussing the local Council's new approach to refuse collection which apparently involves checking householders' recycling bins and awarding them (the bins? the householders?) a gold star if they are truly efficient
recyclers. Penny thinks this is a load of, well, rubbish.
I admit that, Teacher's Pet that I am, ever since I read about the new initiative I have been trying to persuade Mr B not to put milk cartons out for
recycling before rinsing them out. What Pat wants to know is will the Council really, truly be checking our bins to see if every baked beans tin has been washed, that every yoghurt pot is clean and dry, that every newspaper is perfectly folded?
It's my turn to deal the cards - it is our fortnightly Nomination Whist group meeting - but I halt in mid-shuffle when I catch the bit about folded newspapers. I can see that elusive gold star vanishing into the distance
with the refuse van.
There's nothing in the least bit tidy about the way Mr B and I peruse our daily / weekly newspapers. In our book, an untidy newspaper is proof that it has been devoured from the breaking
news on the front page right through to sports section at the back. Indeed, because Mr B always turns to the back pages, all the better to check the progress of "his" teams, we often divide the newspaper in two, so that we can both read it at one and the same
time. Once divided, it never ever gets folded back into anything like its original neatness.
The discussion about the gold recycling star was prompted when, at the end of our first game when all the points
were added up, I drew a star next to Pat's winning score of 148. (I also wrote "could do better" next to Mr B's score which resigned him to an uncustomary last place. He wasn't a happy bunny.) This is how Conversations Around a Card Table tend to start.
Penny asks what I am knitting these days. Everyone turns to look at the foot stool where I have left my knitting. I explain that it is a jumper for The Rascal's birthday and I need to have it finished by Sunday when
we will travel to the Middle of the Darling Daughter's house for the Birthday Party. It looks rather, shall we say, large, someone ventures. That thought has crossed my mind, though I have been comforting myself that the pattern says 3 - 4 years so it must
It's supposed to be long, I say defensively, and anyway the Birthday Boy will grow into it one day. "Hmmm, when he's a teenager...." Who said that? I look round the table but everyone is busy studying
their cards and trying to decide how many tricks they can win. They all have innocent looks on their faces.
Over tea and coffee a fierce debate rages. One of our number has been told she can no longer attend
a backgammon group because she isn't a good enough player. We are all fired up on her behalf. Isn't the U3A supposed to be all about learning for life? we argue. How is she supposed to learn if she isn't allowed to join in? It is indeed, I reckon, a slippery
slope, the thin end of the wedge - please feel free to add your own appropriate cliches.
Suppose it was decided that I had to leave the Singing for Pleasure choir because of my inability to maintain the alto
part in "There is a Tavern in the Town." Could I find myself banned from the Birdy Group on account of not being able to distinguish my chaffinch from my bullfinch? Might the Film Club expel me because I find the Oscar Ceremony a bit of a bore?
Everyone collects their coats (it's cold outside) and leaves. Thanks for a lovely afternoon, they say. See you same time in a fortnight, I respond.
There will be more conversations
over the card table. The issue of the Banning of Members will have been resolved by our August Committee. The Rascal will have tried his jumper on and it may well fit him. Or maybe not.
My recycling bin might
even have been awarded a Gold Star.
Whatever, we'll find plenty to talk about.