According to my well-worn Thesaurus there is no such word as "belonger". If there were such a word, then I can guarantee that I would be it. With knobs on.
I just love that feeling of belonging. Whether it's a clan or a club or a choir we're talking about, I just like to belong. I think it must be in my genes. I'm not necessarily talking here about the Usher Gene, with which regular readers
are well acquainted. The Usher Gene, you remember, bestows on bearers of the name and their descendants an uncanny capacity to shed tears at anything vaguely sad, soppy or sentimental - film and book endings are classic triggers. We are also able
to cram any object, of whatever shape or size, into any receptacle especially on occasions when those less blessed will declare that there is "no room." The inn-keeper in the Nativity story was probably an Usher.
Anyway, I digress. I was thinking about this belonging business yesterday when we all turned up for our Big Performance in our red shirts and black skirts or trousers. We were no longer a mismatch of voices, trying to sing / croak in
tune to meet the exacting standards of our conductor, Muriel. We were A Proper Choir. And my silky red shirt (courtesy of the Middle of the Darling Daughters) and Mr B's red polo shirt (courtesy of Mr Marks and his bosom pal, Mr Spencer) signalled
to all and sundry that we, too, belonged.
Similarly today a member of the Short Mat Bowls Club, who had witnessed me shivering in my short sleeves at yesterday evening's session, kindly made
me a present of a beautiful, white, long-sleeved top. It was an excellent example of those Acts of Random Kindness which I keep telling you about. I tried the top on straightaway and it's perfect. Now all I need is a badge to sew on
it and I will really look like I belong. Mr B says I don't need a badge and, even if I buy one, he doesn't feel the need to follow my example. But I feel a badge is the ultimate demonstration of belonging. Think Blue Peter badges! Think your old school
badge with the Latin motto! Think The Tufty Club! OK, forget the Tufty Club. However well, or otherwise, my short mat game is developing, nobody will be able to take away from me the indisputable fact that, with my new white top, adorned with the club
badge, I will Look The Part.
By the way, I am up to page 42 now in the esteemed Ron Collingridge's helpful little booklet entitled "Short Mat Bowling." I now know that when all my fellow players
call out: "Good line!" when I bowl, this is not actually the mark of approval I thought it was, but is (and I quote our Ron) "usually a polite way of saying that your weight was wrong". Similarly, instead of quietly congratulating myself when
they applaud: "Good weight!", Ron tells me that this is "a polite way of telling you that your line was wrong."
You see, you just wouldn't know these things if you didn't belong.