So much to catch up on!
It's been a busy few days - no time for blogging is busy indeed!
Where to begin? At the beginning I suppose, so right back to last Friday and the bingo.
Have you played bingo recently? You don't know what you're missing: bingo is the new rock'n'roll. Allegedly, although most of the 'rockers' looked more like Dot Cotton than Ozzy Osbourne.
We turned up, the three of us, like virgins at an orgy. Having been registered as members - yes, I'm a card-carrying member now - we were pointed in the direction of the door. 'Go and find a seat,' Mikey, who must have trained in the Blackpool ballrooms, told us.
We looked around the large brightly-lit hall and didn't move.
'You can sit anywhere,' Mikey reassured us.
We still hovered nervously.
'Um, what do we do?' I asked.
'You do know how to play bingo, don't you?'
'Well, you cross out numbers ...'
'MAUREEN!' Mikey yelled across at a ferocious-looking lady. 'Come and show these ...' he hesitated, 'beginners how to play bingo.'
Maureen turned out to be very nice and helpful, saying things like, 'If you only need one number and say it's 34, as soon as he says three and four, shout "house". Don't wait for him to say thirty-four.'
This would have been a very useful thing to know had a) one of us had got as close as needing just one number, and b) we hadn't still been trying to find the number he'd called when he'd already gone on to the next one. (And if the next number is being called you've missed your chance and won't win.)
I tell a lie: Ellie got to the just needing one number for a full house stage. (In the picture she's on the right, holding up her almost-winning card; Carolyn, like me, got as close as needing two.)
If we had been taking it seriously it would have been incredibly stressful; as it was it was only mildly stressful.
But the highlight of the evening didn't concern the bingo as such.
Mikey had just called two and eight, twenty-eight, when he stopped, and seemed to be listening intently. When he spoke again he said, 'This is a staff announcement: Mr Alert is in the building. I repeat: Mr Alert is in the building.'
At this check-shirted staff appeared from every door and began surrounding us. Ellie, Carolyn and I looked at each other ... and burst out laughing. 'Mr Alert?!!!'
Mikey continued, 'This is a customer announcement: please make your way to the nearest exit, which staff will be indicating.'
Still giggling, the three of us joined the throng heading for the door, and round to the car park. As we waited in the car park we noticed that everyone - except us - had taken their bingo cards with them. We'd brought our drinks and crisps.
The problem turned out to be burned sticky toffee pudding but, as Ellie pointed out, it could have been a terrorist. We were, after all, gambling in Mecca.