My favourite couple are walking slowly - oh, so very slowly - to the bus stop where I am waiting. They live just round the corner, take the bus into town most days, just for a cup of coffee in any one of the town’s
numerous coffee shops, before making their slow way home.
Neither of them can walk very well but they each carry a stick in one hand and walk arm in arm, leaning
on each other for support, their heads, woolly-hatted, bending instinctively in towards each other. Their sheer determination not to be beaten by old age and infirmity is inspirational.
“We’ll have to stop meeting like this!” I carol in greeting - only to have to repeat it when they get a bit nearer, as in, near enough to hear me. Their smiles of recognition are as bright as the winter sunshine.
Yes, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, a blackbird is singing away up high somewhere out of sight - and it is bitingly cold. I thought I had prepared myself for the winter chill descending on the country by watching lots of Winter Olympics but maybe I’d
have been better to invest in Something Thermal?
I am off into town for a meeting of the voluntary organisation of which I am the Chair. Yes, that’s Chair,
not Chairman or Chairwoman. One of my counterparts on a similar organisation takes me to task on my preferred title every time we see each other at one meeting or another. Chairs, he says, pompously, are to be sat on. I always smile as brightly as I can and
reply that (i) as I do, indeed, Chair the meetings, I can’t see the problem; and (ii) it’s up to me what I want to call myself. I have to admit that, while (I) does have a certain logic, (ii) simply sounds a little uppity. And I am, though I say
so myself as shouldn’t, just about the least uppity person I know.
Arriving at the centre where our quarterly meeting is to be held, I find the rest of my
Board Members huddled round a table in the café with their hands wrapped warmly around their Beverages of Choice. Even indoors, it’s chilly. I go to the counter to order myself a hot coffee - where I find that the room I have booked for our meeting
has been double booked and about to be invaded by a Mothers and Babies Keep Fit Class. It sounds quite fun but I can’t see myself or any of the other Trustees qualifying for membership. For starters, we don’t have a single babe between us.
An apologetic member of staff says he can put the vestry at our disposal. It is small, but cosy, he tells me. Cosy sounds okay to me, chilly as I am, so the vestry it is.
We sit round a small oblong table on bench seats with colourful cushions for the purposes of comfort. Small, it may be, but it is definitely cosy. I think we are better off than the customers in the café which doesn’t feel as warmly welcoming
as usual. The cold has seeped in to the very heart of the place.
After a successful meeting, Richard kindly offers me a lift home in his new car. This will save
me waiting for the bus in the cold and give us a chance to carry on our conversation in the car. It’s deliciously warm in Richard’s car. I can’t help comparing it with my Grand Old Lady, sitting in the drive at home and sulking because she
hates the cold weather, witnessed by the way she keeps slowing to a stop, every light a-flicker on the dashboard each time I venture out in her. I really need her to get me to hospital in Chichester on Sunday but I’m not sure I can risk it. Unless, that
is, the weather warms up and she returns to her usual, obliging self.
Mr B is toasty warm indoors when I arrive home. I give him a kiss, partly to say I
have missed him but partly to give him an idea just how chilly it is outside.
“It’s going to get even colder!” he announces cheerily, with
the smug satisfaction of one who, for once, can see the advantages of being virtually house-bound.
I am already shivering in anticipation…