Remember I told you that at the last meeting we had agreed to meet the following Friday at 10am to clear the leaves from one of the paths alongside the park?
Well, it's a long time between Wednesday and Friday. Almost as long as a month ago last Wednesday which, if you remember, was the date given by our noble secretary for the previous meeting.
Anyway, I forgot ...
At 10:03am I was still faffing about in my PJ's one eye on the countdown of an item I was attempting to secure for Miss Mac for Christmas and which, when there were precisely 17 seconds to go, I intended to swoop in with my bid and confound the competition and one eye on the band of marauding squittens who were intent on knocking all the baubles off the bottom of the Christmas tree.
Did I tell you we had squittens??
Probably not. It's slightly embarrassing to admit that we missed our opportunity to get squishy (the cat who wasn't staying and so was never really given a name) 'fixed' before she managed to get up the duff again (but this WILL be her last litter!!). Anyway, squishy had 4 beautiful kittens (kittens of squishy = squittens) and they are currently trashing my house and shredding my wallpaper.
So, backtracking ...
10:03 my phone rang ...
'Mumble, mumble, mumble, leaves ... dumpy sack ... mumble ... fecking bikes ... mumble ...'
'Noble secretary, mumble, mumble, fecker, nowhere! Mumble, feck the feckers ...'
'I'm just on my way' I responded politely sniffing my armpits and deciding that I probably could get away without having a shower because frankly, after 3 minutes of shovelling leaves on his own Baarb probably wasn't any fresher than I was and I leapt into action.
4 1/2 minutes later after a quick spritz of body spray I was pulling on a pair of stout boots, grabbing my bike and out of the door.
I raced down the road like a mad haired harpy and hit the cycle path through the park like there was a yellow jersey on offer at the end of it.
I shot past Sue who was apparently practising her topiary skills with a pair of nail scissors on the 40ft hedge that runs the length of the school. Fortunately she was so intent on her work that she failed to notice me as I scorched past leaving a vortex of fallen leaves in my wake.
I screeched to a halt at the end of the path and composed myself before nonchalantly strolling down the path to Baarb only 17 minutes late.
'Forgot did you' he said looking at me sternly.
'Of COURSE not!' I replied indignantly. 'I was just running a little late ...'
'Fecker hasn't turned up' grumble Baarb referring to our noble secretary.
'I expect he's forgotten' (unlike ME) I said sanctimoniously.
'I passed Sue by the school' I told Baarb and a look of alarm crossed his face.
'You didn't tell her I was here!!!'
'No' I assured him, 'I just cycled past with my head down'.
Baarb looked relieved.
'Drag that dumpy bag of leaves up here' he told me.
I looked at him ...
'I'm not sure dumpy bag dragging is my thing what with my back ...' I began but he fixed me with a steely stare.
'I'm 76' he said 'and if I can fill the fecking dumpy bag with leaves YOU can bloody well drag it up here!'
I went down and dragged the dumpy bag up to the point where Baarb and our noble secretary had, several days before, fashioned a holding pen on the other side of the fence in the rough ground for the fallen leaves and between us Baarb and I heaved the half tonne of soggy leaves over the fence and poured them in.
I stood back and wiped the sweat from my brow as our noble secretary appeared around the corner.
'I've just passed Sue by the school' he said.
Baarb and I looked at each other in alarm.
'You didn't tell her we were here???'
'No, no, no, no, no YES' he said. 'I told her were weren't doing the hedge and the council would do that and that she should come down here and help us'
'Fecker' mumbled Baarb with some feeling.
'But she didn't listen to me' he went on looking a little surprised although I'm not sure why because hardly anyone ever DOES listen to him and, to be honest, those of us who do haven't got a clue what he's on about most of the time anyway!
'So she's still there' I asked cautiously.
'No, no, no, no, no' and then, as my heart started to sink, 'YES!'
'She's brought coffee' he said sadly 'and she says we have to go and drink it when we finish here ...'
He handed me a shovel.
'Shovel up those leaves and put them in the dumpy bag'.
'The thing is ... well ... my back ...'
He looked at me ...
'I'M 71' he began and I sadly took the shovel and trailed down the path.
After an hour of REALLY hard graft we chucked the last of the leaves over the fence and Baarb made his escape down the path in the opposite direction of the school.
Our noble secretary and I made our way in the other direction chatting about this and that (or something or other - I have no idea what) when a piercing noise rent the air not once, not twice but THREE times!
I looked around for the source but there was no football match in progress and no ref blowing his whistle.
We walked on and again there was a loud PWEEEEE, PWEEEE, PWEEEEEEEE
'COFFEE' shouted Sue a little pink in the face from her exertions the whistle now hanging silently from the string around her neck.
'I'VE MADE COFFEE!'
'No, no, no, no, no, NO' said our noble secretary, 'I've got a meeting at the cricket club in 10 minutes, no time ... (first I'D heard of that!).
'Nonsense - you WILL drink this coffee!'
'I'm not really a big coffee ...' She glared at me.
'I'M 62 ...'
I held out my hand for the cup of bitter brew ...
'You're in BIG trouble with Jane' she said with some satisfaction.
Our noble secretary looked resigned.
'I'm ALWAYS in trouble' he said.
Sue didn't elaborate so I'm still none the wiser as to why he was in big trouble.
'DRINK IT UP' she shouted at him, 'DRINK IT UP - I'M PARCHED AND THERE'S ONLY TWO CUPS - 'DRINK IT UP, QUICK!!!'
I proffered my cup - 'I'm not really much of a coffee ...'
'I want THAT cup ...'
'Thank you by the way' she suddenly said to me. 'I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't stepped in and helped - I was against the wire you know - right up against the wire I tell you!!! - I shall be eternally grateful to you'.
I have absolutely NO idea WHAT she was talking about but I smiled graciously and told her it had been no trouble at all (which obviously it hadn't been because I hadn't done anything).
I threw the last of the coffee down my throat, took the bag of sticks that Sue had inexplicably given me and made my way home where you will be pleased to hear I did eventually take a shower.