While Mr B is enjoying a much-deserved pampering, I play dominoes with Cyril.
I haven't played dominoes for ages and have to confess that I have always considered it a good, easy game to play with children. It seems I have greatly underestimated dominoes as a Game of Skill and Strategy.
When I, armed with welcome mug of coffee, took a seat at the only table in the Guild Care hall with empty chairs,
Cyril was playing with Shirley. They play every week, Shirley tells me, and she has never once beaten him. Cyril, indeed, taught her to play. I tell them about Mr B, who taught me to play cribbage and always comments when I pull off a particularly spectacular
win, that I "had a good teacher." Cyril says he likes a game of cribbage, having been taught the game by his grandfather. We jointly bewail the fact that not many young'uns seem interested in learning how to play such games, though I put forward an Honourable
Exception in the person of my eldest grandson Jack who beat me hollow after a single lesson. He must have had a good teacher, is all I can say.
Shirley suggests that I should take her place and play a game or two (or three) with Cyril. I can't quite make out if this is a kindness towards a stranger on her part or whether she wants someone else to be on the
Losing End. She leaves me with her raffle tickets and heads off Who Knows Where. There is such a lot going on at the Guild Care Centre. Cyril mixes up the dominoes and invites me to select fourteen. He used to play in a Dominoes League, he tells me, and was,
more often than not, top of the table. Over-awed, I lose the first game.
I count out a fresh
fourteen, this time I have the advantage of the Double Six. Maybe my luck has changed? Cyril says he spent a lot of time teaching a neighbour how to play the game: "Then she went and died on me!" he complains. Was it something he said, I couldn't help asking,
or was it being on the losing side all the time? Cyril appreciates the joke but gives me a long, hard look, as if summing up whether I, too, might die on him. I do my best to look hale and hearty. I lose the second game.
Towards the end of the third game, Mr B appears at the table and I introduce him to Cyril, suggesting he might like to play in my
place once I have lost the third game. Which, predictably, I proceed to do. I leave them to get on with it while I fetch us a mug of coffee and a piece of home-made bread pudding each. "Rubber plonk!" comments Mr B appreciatively - hardly a fair description
of a quite delicious bread pudding, made with apples as a secret ingredient, I am told. Several people on our table say how delicious it looks and that they think they will have some too. I can't bring myself to confess that Mr B and I have had the last two
While Mr B and Cyril are tussling over the dominoes (they win one game apiece), I chat
with a lovely lady who tells me all about her days in the Land Army during the war. She'd never lived in the countryside before, knew nothing about farming and still remembered being faced with the task of milking her first cow. I tell her I wouldn't have
the first idea how to go about it. "Nor did I!" she giggles, sounding just like the eighteen year old Land Girl she once was. Before she became a Land Girl, she confides, she worked on aircraft. "One day an aeroplane, the next a cow!" I say which makes her
smile. She will bring a photo to show me next week, she says. I hope she remembers.
the truly wonderful Dial-a-Ride driver arrives to take us home "whenever you're ready, no hurry," he says. I told you he was wonderful. We bid a fond farewell to Cyril and the former Land Army Girl and leave our raffle tickets with Cyril as the draw hasn't
been made yet. Cyril says he never wins the raffle.
But always, or almost always, the dominoes.