Mr B is most insistent that he wants to attend this afternoon's U3A monthly meeting. So much so that I am under strict instructions to gain permission to leave my Military Voices training session a little early so that
we can arrive at our meeting in plenty of time.
Last month I was late home from wherever I was spending the morning, which meant that we could not secure (i) a handy parking space at the very entrance to the
hall or (ii) a seat on the aisle, four, or at most five, rows back from the front. (My main worry about such a very prominent position is that if Mr B should happen to fall asleep momentarily, the speaker may catch sight of him and be put off his / her stride.
Mr B has no such qualms - he will, he says, only be "resting his eyes...")
The thing is, I do know what it is like as a speaker to look up and realise that you have sent some of your listeners to sleep. It
happened to me once when I was asked to address a retired businessmen's club. First came the three course lunch, with wine a-plenty. I mention this in partial self-defence though my subject matter was, I fear, as dry as the pre-lunch sherry. I watched in horror
as a couple of elderly gents dropped, gently, off to sleep a mere five minutes in to my talk. Don't worry, someone whispered, they never stay awake...
So why, you ask (trying to get me back to the point, no
doubt) was Mr B so keen to take his (preferred) seat in St Mary's Church Hall this afternoon? Well, it might just have had something to do with the title of our speaker's talk: My Life as a Playboy Bunny. Mr B was all agog. However much she rabbited on, he
was determined to be all ears.
First I had to locate the refreshments for him - a cup of coffee and a cheese straw. I thought Mr B would be so pleased with his cheese straw but later, at home, he expressed
a view that in future he would prefer a jammie dodger. It just goes to show that you can live with someone for close on fifty years and still get it wrong occasionally.
Refreshments over, we were warmly welcomed
by our Esteemed Chairman, Avril, who reminded us all that we should have bought lemons today, it being Shrove Tuesday, known to many as Pancake Day. Mr B looked over at me sitting by his side, a question mark in his eyes. I shook a reluctant head before whispering
guiltily: "We can always call in at the garage on the way home...." Mollified, he turned back to the Main Action - our speaker. "Do you reckon she really was a Bunny Girl?" Delia, who was sitting the other side of me, wanted to know. I really, really hoped
so or Mr B would go home a Disappointed Man. And it might take more than a pancake to cheer him up.
Regular readers will remember me writing about my use of props when telling a story to the two and three
year olds at Young Faris's pre-school Playgroup last week. My props included two crowns (one for the king, one for the queen); a Princess doll; Doodles the dog (who had escaped from quite another story); a pink unicorn; Fireman Sam; a knitted nurse; and some
castanets. I was interested to note that our Erstwhile Bunny Girl - for, oh yes, she was the Real Thing, Bunny Bianca no less, bunny ears and all - adopted the same approach. I do have to admit that her props were much, much more interesting than mine.
Her actual bunny ears! Her red velvet croupier's uniform! Her cuff-links embossed with the Playboy Bunny logo! Her service awards presented each year by the Bunny Mother! The Bunny Mother's job, incidentally, was to
check that every Bunny Girl was perfectly dressed - white bobtail fluffed up, false eye-lashes carefully applied. Any wardrobe malfunction would see money docked from a Bunny's pay packet. If this sounds harsh, in other ways the company did well by its employees
with a non-contributory pension scheme and an enlightened approach to maternity leave and returning to work.
One of the fascinating items circulated was the training book for the course on which trainee croupiers
were introduced to the rules of roulette. My favourite, however, was a bank note produced by the Bank of Larry Hagman, he of Dallas fame. On the front the inscription "This bank note is not worth the paper it is printed on"; on the reverse "In Hagman We Trust".
Larry Hagman was one of Bunny Bianca's favourite visitors to the gambling tables.
Back in the Seventies, the record for winnings on a single day was £750,000 - think what that's worth in today's money.
The biggest loss was a staggering £450,000. Did Bunny Bianca feel sorry for the big losers? someone at the front asked. Our Bunny didn't hesitate. Not at all, she said, they all had more money than sense. Mr B, who has more sense than money, nodded sagely.
The speaker at next month's meeting is talking about English Country Lanes. I fear that, where Mr B is concerned, Bunny Bianca may be A Hard Act To Follow.