There's this group of elderly people, about twenty of them, who meet at our church hall every week for a few hours to pass the time and to fight loneliness. We offer them tea and biscuits and have a chat or play bingo or invite guest speakers. We've had someone from the fire brigade talking about fire hazards, someone from the police talking about security and various scams, and someone from the hospital talking about accidents and injuries. Did you know that over 50% of accidents happen in the home? Now these old folks sleep in the garden to be safe.
I sometimes call out the bingo numbers. I call them in Latin to make sure only the Catholics win. Father Frederic told me this is unfair and a sin. So now I call the numbers in Aramaic and confuse everyone including our priest. Last week I won every bingo game. Is it OK for the bingo caller to be a player as well?
To introduce variety, we decided to have a treasure hunt. A bit like the egg hunts at Easter. The idea was to hide various clues in the form of questions all over the grounds of the church compound, and the people working in pairs would search for the laminated cards and try to answer the questions therein. I tried to keep the questions simple to make the game fun and to encourage people along. See if you can answer some of them:
Q1 - Name all the elements in the periodic table.
Q2 - Explain what Einstein meant by e = mc2.
Q3 - What is the difference between amps, voltage and resistance?
Unfortunately, none of the old folks were as bright as I anticipated. That's because they did not have the gumption to find the hidden laminated cards. For a start, they all followed each other and started searching the same place. One of them opened a cupboard containing church votive candles and they all followed suit looking inside the same cupboard instead of spreading out somewhere else. There were votive candles all over the floor. Some broke and were useless. Others got trodden on.
I remember I distinctly said the cards were hidden outside the building, specifically to stop them from opening cupboards and various rooms. So I repeated the instructions and sent them all out in the church gardens. I stayed indoors and picked up all the candles from the floor.
When I went out I discovered that once more they were all working as one group; all 20 of them. They did not work in pairs as instructed. They had opened the garage and were pulling out a ladder. I asked them what the **** they were doing and they explained they wanted to search the chimney on Father Frederic's house.
I assured them that all the laminated cards were at ground level. They could easily find them by not raising one foot. In fact they could glide along and find the damn cards.
Father Frederic heard me and told me not to swear. He said I should confess that sin. I told him to wait until Saturday when no doubt I would have much more serious sins to confess as well.
I noticed the old folks were gathered in a huddle in the middle of the car park. I thought they were talking about me. I approached them and asked what's the matter; why are they not searching for the laminated cards. They said they were looking for Agnes Murgatroid.
Somehow, she had gone missing. She definitely did turn up at the beginning of the meeting but somehow she had vanished and no one could remember when they last saw her. In my frustration I lost my normal cool demeanour and said, "this would not have happened if you worked in pairs as instructed ... but NOOOOOOO ... you decided to work in a pair of 20 people. Well 20 is not a pair in my mathematics book!"
Helen Snodgrass started crying. Captain Sullivan said, "steady on old boy ... we need to search for Agnes ... what?"
So the treasure hunt for laminated cards turned into a missing person enquiry. It reminded me of that TV series "Missing Without a Trace" with Anthony LaPaglia. Only we were much more thorough in our search.
I suggested ... again ... they work in pairs whilst I take crying Helen Snodgrass to Father Frederic for some solemn consolation.
Once more, they ignored my instructions and all 18 of them went into the kitchen. They had opened the fridge and were taking stuff out.
I said, "the trail for missing Agnes is not that cold that you need look into the damn fridge ..."
"We're making a snack before we start searching," said the Captain.
He was of course right. That's exactly what Anthony LaPaglia did in every episode of "Missing Without a Trace". He started by making sandwiches all round.
I went out in the garden and started by searching the garage, then the fields behind the church in case she had fallen amongst the bushes. I found nothing.
I got back in the house and found them still in the kitchen enjoying tea and biscuits and cake. Agnes Murgatroid was also with them. No one had noticed her return.
I asked her, "where the **** have you been?"
Apparently she had locked herself in the toilet and could not get out. Eventually, a volunteer cleaner opened the door for her.
Now I need to remember how many times I swore for my next confession.