You won't believe this but I have nearly, very nearly, been expelled!
How can this be, you are asking yourself, knowing me
to be quite the most Law-abiding of folk, who won't even so much as cross the road unless the Green Man says I can. Could I really have turned overnight into the Aged Equivalent of the Naughtiest Girl in the School?
I could almost allow myself to bask in the unexpected experience - except that the group from which I am in danger of being expelled is Jim and Delia’s monthly cribbage session which was held yesterday, it being the
third Tuesday in the month. I was, Delia told me today (more in sorrow than in anger it must be said, Delia being an Extremely Good Sort) missed. I was Notable By My Absence. I was a No Show. I was Absent Without Leave. Please feel free to fill in your own
descriptions of one who fails to turn up without so much as an excuse or word of apology.
One of the rules of our U3A (which stands for University of the Third
Age) is that if you fail to turn up twice in succession, without extending apologies, to a group of which you are a member, you can be expelled by the group convenor. It may sound a trifle harsh until you remember that most groups have a waiting list of would-be
members who would love to take the place of an Absent One.
It wasn't until Delia arrived at our fortnightly Nomination Whist group this afternoon, that I realised
how close I had come to expulsion. Where was I? she wanted to know. They had all waited for me to turn up because they were sure I'd be along soon. Except that I wasn't. I am beyond mortified.
Delia said I needn't worry about expulsion because she hadn’t been keeping a note of Unexplained Absences. It seems I have been let off the hook, even though I can hardly say I deserve such leniency.
It seems to be happening to me more and more these days - I have a serious case of Diary Malfunction. Was I, Delia enquired, going to the Convenors’ Meeting. Shamefacedly, I
had to confess that I couldn't remember the date. If, that is, I told myself silently, I had ever known. It turns out the Meeting is this coming Saturday and neither Delia nor Jim will be going so it wouldn't be any fun, even if I managed to remember to go.
I had received apologies from a number of people for Nomination Whist so we were just eight in number. Everyone arrived looking hot and bothered, it being the hottest day
since 1976. I remember 1976. We called it the Ladybird Summer because the whole country was plagued by the Spotted Ones. And, like today, it was hot, hot, hot.
I served up iced water to my guests as they arrived - it seemed the very least I could do when they must have thought twice about venturing out into the heatwave. I'd opened every window and every door in the house to encourage a through flow of air
- which was an excellent idea (though I say so myself as shouldn't) especially once I'd thought to wedge folded newspaper pages under the doors to stop them slamming shut every five minutes and bringing down the Wrath of Mr B upon my head. One might have thought
the heat would affect my play but, unusually, I won both games.
I do need to sort out my diary, though. How awful it would be, for instance, if everyone
turned up for Nomination Whist one day and I wasn't ready for them! I flick through the pages of the desk diary till I come to the third Tuesday of July, the last meeting of the cribbage group until September. My red pen is poised above the page - when I see
that I am already committed that day. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I are off on another of our Lunch ‘n’ Theatre dates to see The Fiddler on the Roof.
Oh dear, oh dear! The members of the cribbage group will have forgotten what I look like by September. Will Delia and Jim still welcome me into their midst, despite my absences? Will I forget how to play cribbage? Will anyone save me a biscuit or two?
Most importantly, will I remember to tender my apologies?