Sarah Proctor ©

Once the over-fifties group are stirred up about an issue, there’s no stopping them…

“I’ve always wanted to join a protest. Never did it when I was young. We’re not too old to start one, are we?”

Eighty-year-old Alan waves his walking stick and grins cheerfully at the assembled company. “Well, that’s what folk do these days, isn’t it? And we were all complaining that we don’t have a project right now!”

It’s the weekly Coffee and Cake gathering for the over-fifties, held in the village hall on a Wednesday at eleven sharp. Here the mature folk of the village are invited to air their views and generally have a good time.

“Admittedly things have been a bit lacklustre of late,” says Mo, “but is this really a good idea?”

“And what precisely are we thinking of protesting about?” asks Sara, who at fifty-nine and a half is considered the baby of the group.

For a long moment the room is silent.

“We could make a stand about the work they’re doing around here, cutting out a new road and making a devil of a noise with the machinery in the process.” Alan stamps his stick on the ground a few times to emphasise his point.

There’s a general buzz of ‘hear hear’ from the dozen people around the table.

“You’re right!” Mo agrees enthusiastically. “I had to walk miles out of my way to get here today and that’s not good with my arthritic knees.

“It seems to me there’s a lot of noise and pollution caused by those work people and their machines, but nothing actually seems to get finished.

“It’s all No Entry signs wherever you look!”

“Personally I think we ought to protest about the fact that the butcher’s van never comes round any more,” says Alan, who has a particular liking for sausages. “My toad in the hole isn’t a regular on the menu these days, I’m sorry to say.”

“Well there you are,” says Norman. “We have a couple of ideas, so why don’t we plan some action?”

“You could be in charge,” suggests Alan. “Norman the Conqueror; that would be a great title for you.”

Quite suddenly from an atmosphere of peace and calm, voices begin to rise.

“First thing then is choosing a title for our protest.” Norman, chest thrust out and head held high, rises to the importance of his new elevated position.

“How about something like Cease Ruining And Polluting!” suggests Molly, who’s led a sheltered life.

“Not an ideal acronym for the protest,” sniggers Sara, voicing the thoughts of the others. “Maybe something more like Leave Our Roads Alone, or perhaps Bring Back Chipolatas.”

“L.O.R.A. for Leave Our Roads Alone sounds OK,” says Norman, nodding appreciatively, “but I think B.B.C. for Bring Back Chipolatas has been used somewhere before,” he adds, roaring with merriment.

“Very well, we have a name for our protest, now how about deciding when we’ll hold it?”

“ASAP,” says Molly who’s beginning to enjoy the fun of initials.

“The weather forecast’s good for next month and that should give us time to make banners.”

“You’re good at artwork, Sara,” says Norman. “If you design the posters I’m sure the rest of us have got the odd broomstick we can mount them on.”

Lethargy well and truly behind them, the Coffee and Cake group set about organising their protest. It transpires that none of them has ever been on a protest before so excitement is high.

For the next couple of weeks there’s a flurry of activity as members of the group cut out and paint cardboard signs, stick them to broomsticks and plan to take the village by storm.

“Now not a word to anyone outside our group,” Norman tells the others firmly.

“We don’t want trouble! It’s just an opportunity to demonstrate peacefully and tick off something that seems to be on all our bucket lists.”

At last with the Big Day almost upon them and everything in place, the coffee and cake group have their final planning meeting.

“You’re looking very trim these days,” Sara tells Alan.

“That’s because the butcher’s van hasn’t been delivering my sausages,” Alan says, “and to be honest, I feel a lot better now I’m not stuffing myself with toad in the hole three times a week.”

“There’s something else no one has mentioned,” says Norman.

“The works are complete. The new road is in place.”

“It’s a longer walk for me to get here,” says Mo, “but I must admit my knees feel better for all the extra exercise.”

“In that case, I’ve made some pasties for us and a big chocolate cake,” Sara says.

“We could always call the protest off, make some mugs of coffee and have a party instead. What do the rest of you think of that idea?”

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