It was a lovely warm late afternoon in June. I was visiting the local Quaker Meeting House to observe a new tutor, teaching her second course for the WEA on ‘Overthinking’. I thought I saw someone go into the building, as I approached, but when I pressed the ‘Push Me to Open’ button, nothing happened. Through the glass door, I could see Lisa, the assistant warden, eating pasta out of a bowl. One time, the warden used to lock the doors between 5 and 6pm to get a break but I didn’t think they still did this. They double staff the sessions now. And there was Ella next to Lisa, tucking into her pasta dish too. I smiled at them, pressing the button again and still nothing happened.
Lisa started waving her fork about and mouthing words at me from behind the reception desk. It seemed to me she was saying, ‘Sling yer hook, mate! We’re having our dinner.’ Charming, I thought. Definitely, the Bad Quaker welcome I’d heard of! Still, make the best of it and I smiled back at them, mouthing, ‘It’s ok. I’ll use the side door. I’ve me fob.’ I’m a sometimes Openupper on Sundays, you see. And in I went.
Ella met me in the corridor. ‘I didn’t know you were a warden!’ ‘Oh, yeah, been a few months now.’ ‘Good stuff!’ And then we got to Lisa at the front desk. ‘I was trying to say, “Pull the door. The button’s broke but you can still get in, if you pull the door.”’
Oh, how we laughed!
And this is how I came into Quakers, through the side door.