How to be a One (if you’re not already one, of course)

Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one?

It was while I was doing my petrol pump dance, much to the amusement of fellow fuel buyers, that I started to wonder.

I am not a particularly thrifty person. Even in these times of economic austerity, I cannot bring myself to wring another cup of Assam out of a damp and partially withered teabag. I realise we all have to make cutbacks but I am not prepared to compromise when it comes to a cuppa.

But I do insist on extracting the last drop of petrol from the pump. This is why, when it clicks off to indicate my tank is full, I hoist the rubber hose over my head and wiggle it about so that any fuel trapped in the bend, goes into my tank. (petrol tank; I don’t drive a tank)

There is little point in trying to be dignified while performing the pump dance. You have to imagine you are fighting a large, oily, man-eating python – think Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan only as dressed as a middle-aged woman... same-sized boobs but there the similarity ends..

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It may be rather eccentric behaviour for the forecourt at Asda but I reckon it could be saving me as 5p a visit.

At a minimum of 114.9p per litre – that’s around �5.23 a gallon in old money – I don’t want to risk leaving any drop of precious unleaded behind.

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This is when you think: “Am I the only one who does this?”

My husband immediately answers “yes” but then he is more reserved than I am when it comes making an exhibition of oneself.

Am I the only one who thinks you should be spontaneous with applause? There has been a debate about whether it is permissible to applaud between movements in classical concertos (concerti?). Many would say it is not.

I recall my first boyfriend being marched out of the school hall by one of the senior mistresses when he entered halfway through a lunchtime rendition of some worthy piece.

He explained he had heard the applause and thought it had finished.

“Ah yes,” said the mistress disapprovingly, “They shouldn’t have applauded between movements,” and promptly went back into the hall, instructing my boyf (note: I can get down with the street, innit) to wait outside until the piece was finished.

I think it’s mostly fine to applaud in the pauses. The musicians are, after all, performing to entertain a paying audience. It is not an experience so rarefied that it has to be treated with hushed reverence.

At the same time, you don’t want to be the only one clapping... in case someone throws you a fish.

One of the great things about getting older – and it’s not all bad news - is that you start to cherish the idea of being the only one.

And sometimes you can get together with like-minded people and enjoy one another’s foibles.

Last week, I ventured out into the part of Suffolk that lies between Ipswich and Norwich.

I am the sort of woman who finds it difficult to stop off anywhere that has no department store so when I was invited to the Mendlesham over 60s 50th annual flower show, I decided it would be as well to pop a blanket, spade and thermos of hot coffee in the boot. Just in case.

I also brought my mum and dad (not in the boot) as they have a friend who lives in Mendlesham.

In fact, Mendlesham is a fairly substantial village. No M&S or Waitrose but the pub we went to has a prominent picture of Nelson Mandela so it clearly has a cosmopolitan leaning.

The reason I was in the pub was because I left “in good time” (i.e. ridiculously early) because the A140, which links Suffolk to Norfolk, has been only marginally upgraded – mainly with speed restrictions – since Roman times.

Having packed everything apart from instructions for getting to the community centre, I entered the post code into the Little Ms Frosty SatNav who took me straight to the wrong location.

Being a woman, I found myself able to open the window and ask a passer-by for directions. Men, I have noticed, have a predisposition towards never admitting they are lost.

Presumably this is why many of the world’s most remote spots have been discovered by men.

Arriving at the community centre we found a huge array of flowers, cakes and handicrafts – show entries from the club’s members. There is hot competition for the trophies, which are awarded in a number of categories.

I discovered my role was to hand out the silverware and not, as I had secretly hoped, to judge the cakes.

Some subtle persuasion managed to secure me a fruit loaf, however: “Will no-one let me eat their cake?” I declared in a loud voice like some latter-day Marie Antoinette.

Meanwhile my mum and dad had been taking part in the tombola and had (so far) won a bottle of Lucozade and a tin of beans. All energy-giving stuff.

Lovely Joan, who was sitting next to me, offered me her fruit loaf and made me feel a bit guilty for asking... but not so guilty that I didn’t go straight home and devour two big slices.

My last official duty after handing out the silver cups and shield was to pull the first ticket out of the hat for the draw.

Needless to say, I won nothing but my mum won a huge box of chocolates.

Not that I’m complaining. My thank you gift was (as specially requested) a huge tub of Suffolk rusks.

After the Mendlesham experience I can’t wait to reach my 60th birthday because, the evidence shows, I shall then become a wonderful gardener, a brilliant cook and a fantastic knitter and needlewoman.

I am also hoping to get on to the 2015 Mendlesham over-60s pin-up calendar. (see my application picture above)

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