The extremely sweet and always helpful shop assistant in the butcher's shop tells me that "Man is what he eats."
On today's shopping basket, this makes Mr B an exotic
mixture of Lincolnshire sausage, South Downs lamb steak and a sundried tomato pastry wheel. Tasty, or what?
I had planned a trip to town today for a bit of Christmas shopping but the grey skies and steady
rain rather put me off. I am a Fair Weather Christmas Shopper. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters advises me to buy on-line, saving myself the time and trouble of trailing around the shops on rainy Saturdays but I am stubborn like that. Apart from occasional
forays into the Amazon Jungle, I actually prefer wandering about from store to store, comparing the respective wares of this emporium and that, ever hopeful of discovering a bargain or two along the way. I like travelling home on the bus with several rolls
of Christmas wrapping paper poking dangerously out of my shopping bags as a sign that I have (or, hopefully, will have one day soon) Presents To Wrap.
My friend Avril phones me to ask if I have remembered
that I said I would be a "welcomer" at next week's monthly U3A meeting. Plus, could I possibly print off five or six "reserved" signs to be placed on certain seats? I say "yes" and "yes". Mr B, when I report back on this conversation, wants to know who will
be taking advantage of the reserved seats but I have to confess that it didn't occur to me to ask. This is the difference between Mr B and me. He is always alive to the possibility of Preferential Treatment. He also likes sundried tomato pastry wheels which
I am prepared to forego in favour of an egg sandwich. I am what I eat. I'm happy to be an egg sandwich, all things considered.
I did think to ask Avril what would be expected of me as a "welcomer" (apart from
the obvious, that is.) Apparently my main task will be to identify anyone who is new to our U3A branch on their arrival and to make sure they all sit together in a place where Avril, as our newly elected Esteemed Chairman, will be able to locate them and give
them a Chairman's Welcome. This will doubtless make them feel much more special than simply being welcomed by Little Old Me.
I do think that having "welcomers" is a good idea, especially if they know what
they are doing. It isn't easy, is it, walking into a large church hall full of people chatting to each other, crowding around in noisy groups, saving seats for friends who are catching the 700 Coastliner bus which won't arrive until ten minutes before the
meeting starts. Newcomers need to know where the kitchen is, so as to be able to purchase a cup of tea or coffee. They need to know this will cost them the princely sum of thirty pence - but not to worry because included in the price is a biscuit. On the premise
that Man Is What He Eats, they can usually choose between being a Rich Tea or a Malted Milk. If they are exceptionally fortunate, they may even be a Custard Cream.
The newcomer needs to know that Shirley
the Raffle will be circulating with draw tickets and that it is considered polite to buy at least one strip. He or she must be prepared to be disappointed when failing to win any of the first few prizes (which are generally worth having, especially if you
are of the mind that Man Is What He Drinks) and relieved not to win any of the last prizes which they probably won't know what to do with except to donate them to next month's raffle.
Newcomers should be introduced
to Rita who runs the stall at the back of the hall offering books, magazines and jigsaw puzzles at no charge - though donations are always welcome. They will want to inspect the notice board on which David, our SUN rep (so named after the Sussex U3A Network
not on account of his sunny nature. Though he is. Sunny, I mean) has listed details of Study Days in which we are all invited to participate. Should we be feeling particularly, well, studious, I presume. Such a wealth of information to be passed on, is there
going to be time before I shepherd the newcomers to their seats? Will I remember it all?
Will they feel welcomed? Or overwhelmed?