When a piece of paper dropped through my door the other night my heart sank a little.
Had a whole month REALLY passed since our last park meeting??
Don't get me wrong, in some respects I LOVE our parks meetings, it's always entertaining and they make great blog fodder but I always come out of them more mystified than I went in.
Despite having an agenda I seriously have NO idea what anyone is talking about!
I was in a bit of a rush last night. It had been a hectic day and I'd just finished potting up another load of Damson jam (my nails may be permanently stained a dirty reddish brown) and I was putting the finishing touched to a bread and butter pudding for my sister (fruit soaked in Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey - horrible as a drink but great for cooking!) so the last thing I felt like on this warm sunny evening was locking myself in a freezing pavilion with a bunch of people who, much as I love them, are possibly quite mad!
Anyway, I tore out of the house thinking I was late and ran (at a fast walking pace) to the park to find the pavilion shutter down and the place still locked.
Checking my watch I saw that I was in fact several minutes early so I sat outside to enjoy the early evening sun.
A few minutes later Mumbling Bob came round the corner.
'Seen it?' he demanded 'seen that blue one??? They put it in the wrong place and what more ...'
'Evnenin' said Colin as he rounded the pavilion from the other side. 'Wasn't sure I had the right day, it's says 7pm Wednesday September on my agenda - haven't got no date on it!'
'Same' said Mike pulling up on his push bike - 'We agreed the 14th at the last meeting, I was going to come next week'.
'I came last week' puffed Tiny as she was towed down the path by her enormous shaggy rug (that she insist IS a dog) Rebecca.
'That blue one, have you SEEN it' shouted mumbling Bob.
'Blue what?' enquired Colin.
'The bench, the bench you just walked past - it's the wrong one AND it's in the wrong place and what's more it's 5" lower than it should be!!!'
We all went to inspect the bench which was indeed blue (and belonged on the other side of the park) and was also set back from the path on the grass rather than on the path like the others AND did appear to be rather low.
Colin sat on it. 'It's low' he pronounced.
Mike sat on it. 'It's in the wrong place AND too low' he agreed.
Tiny sat on it.
'It's JUST right' she said smiling happily bouncing up and down her little legs waving around as Rebecca bored with bounding around started to gnaw the tyres on Mikes bike.
'God help us' mumbled Mike as he spotted Sue bearing down on us - 'is it too late to hide'?
Sue wheezed up to us clutching her large Sainsburys carrier bag to her chest.
'Have you seen our noble secretary?' Tiny asked her.
'Have I seen him - HAVE I SEEN HIM??' shouted Sue.
'NO, I most certainly have NOT!!! When I do I shall give him a piece of my mind! He was supposed to call for me at a quarter to. He KNEW I had taken to my bed after that incident with the fish!'
We all looked at each other and shrugged.
Sue didn't enlighten us but, putting her carrier bag on the ground she fumbled inside it until she found her packet of fags and, lighting one with a trembling hand she shuffled off around the corner.
'What happened with the fish' I whispered.
'No idea' said Colin, maybe she had food poisoning or something'.
'Maybe she attacked John with a wet fish - you know, like the time she put his clogs in the wood burner because he annoyed her and he would never have found out if the buckle hadn't been made of metal so it didn't burn and he discovered it when he raked the ashes out' suggested Tiny helpfully.
'My moneys on food poisioning' said Colin unwilling to let his theory go.
'Is that our noble secretary mumbled Bob peering into the distance where a figure in a white shirt was hurrying down the path.
'Don't think' so I said, 'looks far too purposeful AND he's walking in the right direction - seems highly unlikely it's him'.
I was wrong and it was.
'Seen this bench' demanded mumbling Bob as he approach.
'No, no, no, no, no, YES!!!' said our noble secretary juggling armfuls of paper and what looked like a balloon pump, 'it's in the wrong place isn't it?'
'Not just THAT' said mumbling Bob puffing himself up in riotous indignation - 'it's also 5" too low!!!'
'It is you know' agreed Colin, 'mumbling Bob measured it!'
'I shall write to the council' our noble secretary said hurriedly.
'Tell me about the fish' I said, 'Did Sue have food poisoning?'
'No, no, no, no, NO!' he said - 'It was the pump in her tank - went wrong it did so I had to get another one for her. She spent two hours giving them mouth to mouth by blowing down the pipe to give them oxygen but I think it was at least 50% nicotine and four of them were dead by the time I got there!'
We all filed into the pavilion.
There was the usual stand off to see where Sue was going to sit so we could all try to avoid her flailing arms and fag laden breath.
I fooled Colin by pretending to sit down before quickly darting around mumbling Bob to grab a seat at the end of the table,
Colin gave me a reproving look and settled down in the chair next to Sue while Tiny, who is scared of Sue, looked very relieved to be sitting next to our noble secretary.
'Now' began our noble secretary - ' in the absence of our esteemed leader I'll open the meeting by reading the minutes of the last meeting which I have left at home'.
'APPOLOGIES!!!' Shouted Sue banging her hands flat on the table making Colin jump (but fortunately he DIDN'T have a cup of tea in his hands this time so mumbling Bob and I didn't have to dive under the table to retrieve a dropped cup and discover we had an infestation of snails - neither did we have to give each other knowing looks and vow NOT to mention the stolen pebble taken from Ladram Bay to replace the eye of toad ...).
'I have told you before that meetings MUST begin with APOLOGIES!!!'
'No, no, no, no, no, YES!!!' agreed our noble secretary removing some papers that appears to be stuck to his elbow with gravy.
'Well, Simon ...' We all groaned.
'Three Strikes!!!' bellowed Sue - 'Three strikes and you're OUT!!!'
Isn't that cricket or something I wondered ...
'When was the last time ANY of you saw Simon' demanded Sue.
We looked at each other.
'Well' began Colin ...
'This year' demanded Sue - 'HAVE YOU SEEN HIM AT A MEETING THIS YEAR???'
We agreed that we had not and, to be honest, I was all for striking him off or something because I think he's a real plonker (and I'm pretty sure everyone else does too) but we agreed to give him another chance.
The meeting continued while Mike and I had a nice little chat about how it would have been his fathers birthday today AND it would have also been his wife's fathers birthday so they had got married on the same day which meant it was his wedding anniversary.
'Oooh, congratulations' I said.
'Congratulations for what' whispered Tiny who had disturbingly been doodling daggers with arrows pointing toward Sue on her agenda.
'Mikes wedding anniversary' I mouthed back.
'63 ...' began Mike - 'You've been married for 63 years!!' whispered Tiny, blimey, that's some going.
'NO' said Mike looking affronted, 'We were married in 1963! - 'Just how old do you think I am???'
Tiny went back to doodling.
'SEAT SWAP' Sue suddenly shouted making me jump - 'We must arrange the seat swap! - 'We can have it here, people can bring their seats here and we can make teas'.
'No, no, no, no, no, YES!!! - we can talk about that later' said our noble secretary.
I was confused, what WAS this seat swap, I'd never heard of one before. Was I supposed to bring a couple of surplice dining chairs down to the pavilion and swap them for a set of garden furniture or something?
I looked at Tiny who seemed equally perplexed and just shrugged at me.
The meeting stumbled on for another half hour before our noble secretary appeared to be winding down.
I leapt to my feet - 'must dash' I said - I have a bread and butter pudding to bake.
I was swiftly followed by Mike who didn't want to be left walking with our noble secretary and Sue who both live in the same direction as us.
As we left the pavilion the light on the path buzzed briefly before plunging us into darkness.
'So' I said, trying not to sound too stupid - 'about this SEAT swap' did I miss the memo, what exactly IS a seat swap?'
Mike chuckled - 'you have failed in your attempt not to sound stupid' he told me - it's not a SEAT swap you fool - it's a SEED swap!'