I’m not sure how I got talked into attending one of the church coffee mornings to introduce some of the village pensioners to the wonders of internet shopping but that’s how I found myself in the church that cold morning utilising the vicarage’s Wifi and armed with my trusty laptop.
Expecting the odd elderly person to show up I was surprised when fifteen arrived but delighted that they knew how to operate the tea urn and truly grateful a few minutes later when I was nursing a hot mug of tea to ward off the cold in our draughty old church. I was pleased to see that one of two of them had brought along their laptops and the vicar and I spent a few minutes sorting out their internet connections before chatting to them about the benefits of internet shopping.
Fifteen minutes into the event and a couple of the pensioners got up and fetched their coats, apologising as they thought they were attending a bingo session. The charms of online supermarket shopping will always, of course, lack the appeal of a full house. Whilst at times it was frustrating explaining things to people who were born long before the techno age, their childlike enthusiasm was infectious and before we knew it, it was lunchtime and time for another round of tea. No army of pensioners ever marches on an empty tea urn don’t you know.
Over tea and custard creams the conversation continued with our audience fascinated by the ease of choice available to them online without even leaving the comforts on their own homes particularly as it hadn’t been shopping-like weather of late.
“How’s your handsome young man”? enquired Beryl who clearly had no filter and no volume control much like her friend Joyce. Beryl’s husband Albert just sat alongside her smiling vacantly and nodding and I’m guessing he’d had a lifetime’s experience of doing just that.
“Errr he’s not my young man anymore”.
“Was it your big feet that he didn’t like, darlin’? There’s always been big feet in your family, it’s because you all used to be hefty bog trotters”, referring to our Irish roots.
“Yes, well thank you for that; always nice to know how much we have evolved from when we were cloven-hooved cave dwellers, we now use cutlery even when we don’t have company”. I said regretting the decision not to wear a bullet-proof vest that morning under my sweater.
“That’s nice dear, good manners are so important especially when you’re a spinster with feet the size of dinner plates; just as well you can cook. Oh yes I forgot it’s your sister that bakes. Well never mind love, you’ll always have a home with your mum and dad”.
“Anyway, Beryl she’s not fat, are you sweetheart? You’re just easy to see” Joyce chipped in.
I was grateful to the vicar when he chose that very moment to collect the discarded cups creating a welcome distraction from the discussion regarding my marital status and obvious lack of attributes.
“Don’t you think the vicar’s got a touch of the George Clooney’s about him” whispered Joyce. Now if there were ever a man who was less like George Clooney, it would be our “woollie-pullie” wearing vicar – God love him. Unquestionably, one of the most diligent and kindest souls I’ve ever met but certainly not film star status; although I feel sure that his wife and mother would contradict me on that point.
Fortunately, we resumed the online shopping conversation and the vicar and I were kept busy checking that everyone had completed all the relevant information and were happy with their choices.
“Are you a Tenna lady, Joyce”? and so the conversation continued who knew there’d be so many considerations when choosing incontinence pads?
“Albert, did you really mean to order a case of Irish Whisky?” I asked as he sat quietly tapping away on his laptop. Without uttering a word he glanced at his wife and then back at me again. I nodded sympathetically completely understanding the nature of his dilemma and recommended a repeat weekly order having realised then that some burdens are just too onerous to bear without inordinate amounts of Dutch Courage.
As I pondered on the way home whether I too needed fortification in the shape of my Dad’s dubious homebrew, I couldn’t help but recollect one of my Grandma’s fondest sayings “Some people brighten a room when they enter it and others when they leave”.