I arrived at the meeting venue in good time so as not to make a poor impression had I been late. Fortunately, my host was waiting for me in the bar (where else?) and introduced me to a number of members standing close by.
I was a little nervous at first not really knowing what to expect but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. All were wearing a club tie and lapel pin in their jackets. Oh yes, dress code. As it was mid-morning and not the evening I did not have to wonder if it was a black-tie occasion (because I was unsure if my dinner suit would still fit me since my retirement) or, would a lounge suit or jacket and tie be sufficient? I was reassured that my smart jacket and tie seemed to suit the occasion admirably.
After a while, we were called into the dining room which had several large tables. Oh, where do I sit? Anywhere and everywhere was the answer. Wherever there’s a spare seat; after all, Probus does not encourage cliques but wants a clear mix of members from one month to another to allow everyone to know each other better.
After a short introduction there followed a talk by an outside speaker. On the first occasion, the topic was about the Oregon Trail in the USA. Subsequent talks have been about cycling the length of the USA, life observations by someone who naturally enough always saw the funny side of life (and was indeed very funny) and the life and times of a BBC radio reporter. The talks are varied, informative, humorous and always well received.
Lunch followed. A traditional English meal was served followed by a dessert. I had chosen the biscuits and cheese as an alternative to the dessert. Conversation flowed and the noise increased with laughter and chatter all around me. I discovered that members were retired having followed a wide variety of careers including bomb disposal, banknote forgery, nuclear science, paper manufacture, motorheads and many other occupations. In turn upon retirement members had devoted their spare time to cruising, holidays, bird watching, playing golf, politics and so on. What an eclectic bunch.
After lunch, the President, resplendent in his chain of office, made various announcements of interest to the assembled members including what many considered the most important decision of the meeting – what to eat at the next lunch meeting!!
Other announcements followed including details of various trips being organised that would be of interest to members and their partners as well as less formal meetings at various pubs and restaurants being held throughout the year.
I made my way home in the early afternoon thinking what great value for money I had enjoyed. For a modest outlay of £25 annual subscription plus £13 a month for the cost of the meal, I wondered about the people I had met, the conversations that followed and the interesting and fascinating lives of those around me.