It seems I’m not the only one trying to get in touch with Deirdre. In our village, the post office doubles up as a hairdresser, so that standing in the queue to buy a book of second class stamps makes it very likely that you’ll hear all the latest gossip completely unintentionally.
Two ladies, who I shall call Claire and Monica, largely because I don’t yet know what their names really are, were sitting in the hair-salon part of the shop, one of them sitting with curlers in and the other either waiting for her appointment or alternatively keeping the other company. The person in front of me was one of those that the post-mistress is constantly praising, sending about 50 parcels as part of her eBay business, which meant I had plenty of time to listen to the conversation between the other two. Believe me, if the post office had a machine for dispensing books of stamps, I would have used it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have found out the following:
a) There is lots of disquiet in the village playgroup about the proposed change to Child Benefit, though judging by the designer handbags that Claire and Monica were wielding, I doubt they would be notice the difference.
b) Ed Milliband is the puppet of the regime in Russia, which is secretly being run by the old-style communists still. I thought it was the oil barons who were running it now – clearly, that’s where JR had headed to after Patrick Duffy bailed – but what would I know. And, most importantly,
c) Deirdre has let down Monica, who was expecting her to collect her children from school yesterday. Monica had been furious when the school called her to ask her to collect her children herself and had to drive all the way back from the charitable committee meeting she was attending, although she may have been over the limit by then, to pick them up. She had been round to Deirdre’s when there was no answer on the phone and banged on the front door instead but Deirdre had not responded to that either. Darling Ferdi had offered to take the Rottweilers round to sort her out, but Monica didn’t want the Animal Nazis to confiscate Brutus and Booth, so she wouldn’t let him.
At about this point, there was a throat-clearing from in front of me and I realised that the Karren Brady of the village had finished and June was ready to sell me the afore-mentioned book of stamps. I decided to buy two books, to save time in the future. After all, Christmas is only round the corner and there will doubtless be plenty of people who fall into the ‘we don’t want to lose contact completely but they don’t really warrant a first-class stamp’ category for their Christmas cards, so I can use them then if not before.
Not an entirely unprofitable wait, however. It seems Deirdre has gone AWOL so I can stop worrying about trying to locate her for the time being, as she will probably call me when she finally gets round to checking her messages, and if people like Monica and Claire use the village hairdresser, maybe I should try it too. The price-list looked very reasonable!