The lot of a young curate used to be to have to talk to many groups of people in churches, often women, as an interlude to a programme that was all about flower arranging or interesting local natural history. In my time I've done Women's Fellowships, Women's Evening Fellowships, Mothers Unions (although they felt more like grandmothers) and assorted groups called things such as After Eights, Friday Nights or BCPHC (10.45 followed by lunch).
I have resolved not to do this sort of thing anymore. Something has to go from the diary in order to do what I'm here to do, but one slipped under the radar early in my time here when I hadn't worked the word 'no' into my repertoire. So to my most recent venture into entertaining women. Clement Freud once described the average age of an audience of his as 'deceased.' The average age of my audience was not deceased but certainly terminal.
Let it be said that this was a delightful group of women, and one man. They were pleasant, friendly, welcoming and, at my request and after a bit of cajoling, asked some good questions.
After we had got the loop system working so that the people in the back row (why do the harder of hearing always congregate in back rows?) weren't tapping their hearing aids with frustration or holding their hands over both ears and screaming, we had our meeting. This consisted of news of other members not present due to varying ailments, three hearty hymns in high keys, a prayer and then me.
I tried really hard to be no better than average to avoid being invited back but a round of applause at the end ('most unusual' said the chair) confirmed my worst fears and I expect I'll become a programme fixture.
If the secret of living a long life well after your bladder muscles have given up is strong tea then these people are taking no chances. Possibly a few more windows open next time? I do enjoy parish ministry.