It is already mid-December and there is still so much work for my clients not yet done. But, heck, we are busy delivering a Focus across Demsbury. It does not help that one of my deliverers is too ill to continue. Another couple have inconveniently flown off to Goa for the winter. Others simply don’t have time. Inevitably, I’m delivering most of the leaflets myself.
I am also turning out at council meetings. I’ve been to three committees this week – watching the politics, exploring the issues, learning the language of council and councillors.
After the flooding scare, which thankfully came to nothing, the whole of Libbyshire is now frozen solid. This means that I’m gradually turning blue as I deliver Focus after Focus along a never ending road of undistinguished bungalows and semi-detached houses.
The houses may be dull, at least in winter, but when their residents hear you walk up the drive more than a few of them come to the door to greet you. Some are lonely older people. Others are mothers, often taking a breather before collecting the kids. And so many people work at home, more than I had realised even though I work at home myself.
I’d been out for two hours or so and was well frozen when an elderly lady invited me in for tea. It was an offer I could not refuse. Not only was the tea welcome but I so needed to go to the loo.
My host Jean proved to be delightfully batty. Over tea and ginger nuts, she dug into my past and interrogated my future like a child exploring the back of a wardrobe. She even asked me what my New Year resolutions would be. I spluttered out some suggestions which I hoped would be worthy. More community work, less Pinot Grigio, that sort of thing.
Jean laughed and poured me a very dry Fino. “Well, young lady” she said with a sly and somewhat naughty smile. “When I was young, I made resolutions every year. And I broke them. Every one! I only hope you can do the same.”
I did not need to ask if I had her vote as I left! And of course, I promised to drop back soon.
An hour later, I was strolling into the Market Tavern in search of warmth and coffee. Mad Max was the only customer that I knew and he made a beeline for me. I could not escape.
“Just want to wish you a Happy Christmas,” he said with unusual pleasantness. After polite inquiries about where I was going to spend the festive season, he made the point that he had been scheming to make all along.
“Clare and I are just popping off to Sydney. They do New Year so well down under.”
Then, having delivered his daily dose of one-upmanship, he floated off to form a huddle with the ancient aldermen gathering for a late afternoon glass of port in the snug.
My earlier encounter with Jean had delighted me but Max had soured the day. My bubble of happiness pierced, I was just about to leave when Melissa swept in. “Two Pinot Grigios,” she called to the bar. We settled on a small table far from the gossiping aldermen.
Mel soon understood the reasons for my downbeat mood as we caught up on the events of the day.
“You have got to have resolve,” she said. “Every time you feel down, pick yourself up and start all over again.” It seemed too simple, but it also seemed right.
Later, as we supped a second or third round of Pinot Grigio – who’s counting? – Melissa began to press me for my New Year resolutions. We’ve done this trick together every year for nearly a decade. We slate up resolutions and we torment each other as we inexorably break them.
I told her: “I simply don’t know. I’m pretty much exhausted. I am in a whole new world. What on earth should my new year resolutions be?”
Libby will be back in the New Year. All suggestions of resolutions she may or may not keep with are welcome.
* Libby Local is based on real events. Details have been changed to protect the innocent and disguise the guilty. Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach. You can catch up with all Libby Local's episodes to date by clicking here.