IT was the first chance the women had had for a good look at the rest of the class. They were in the main hall, the one with the stage at one end, and there were eight of them in total. A mixed bunch, they agreed. Two women of about their own age, whom they knew from years of school-gate gatherings and sports days; a couple of youngsters with enviably slim long limbs who were sitting together, though each was engrossed in their mobile phone; an older woman they knew by sight and George, who ran the village post office cum newsagent with his mother.“And, of course, there’s Dolores herself,” Sally muttered, watching their tutor fussing with the CD player and rearranging the rather theatrical pink chiffon scarf at her neck.“Though, of course, she would call it fuchsia,” Kate observed.“Or cyclamen,” Sally agreed, apparently reading her mind.“She’s in good shape for an old ’un, though, isn’t she? Do you think it’s the dancing that’s done that? How old is she, anyway?” Kate wondered, sucking on her straw between sentences.Sally screwed up her nose as she considered.“Well, I remember when we were at school in about . . . ooh, fourth form, my mum told me that she Dolores had had a big break in showbiz. She must have been in her twenties then. So that puts her in her sixties now, at least!”“Showbiz!” Kate chortled. “In the entertainment troupe on the cruiseliners, wasn’t it? Hardly the London Palladium!”The women eyed the subject of their speculation critically, and nodded at each other.“Definitely good for her age, though,” they agreed.“Do you think it’s the dancing?” Kate wondered, with a little lift of hope in her voice as she smoothed her T-shirt over her midriff bulge.“Maybe,” Sally agreed, with the same note of hope.“Now then, ladies and gentleman, of course.” Dolores ducked her head girlishly at George, then clapped her hands. “Places, please! Two rows of four, and we’ll do one more round of heel and toe, then try something new. Beginning with the right . . .” she said, with a pointed look at Kate.
NOW we come to any other business.” Ted Hodges squared the corners of the agenda on the table before him and looked over his spectacles at the other members of the Millennium Hall Committee. Taking off his reading specs and folding them carefully into their case, he rose and looked down from the stage to address the small gathering of locals who had turned out for this public meeting.“Now, as you all know, come December it’ll be ten years since the Millennium Hall opened its doors, and the committee feel it would be fitting to hold some sort of celebration to mark the fact.”“Er, excuse me?” a voice broke in. Ted looked around for the speaker. A hand rose, and then a young woman stood up. “I’m sorry to interrupt and I really don’t mean to be rude but if it’s 2012 now, and the hall was built for the millennium, aren’t you a bit late celebrating its tenth anniversary? I mean, the millennium was twelve years ago.”Ted smiled benevolently.“Ah, well, now . . . that’s a bit of a story, my dear. Am I right in thinking you’re new to the village?”The young woman nodded.“I only came to live here last month.”“Well, first of all I want to thank you for coming along tonight very public-spirited of you. Now, about our hall. We got lottery funding towards building it it was a special Millennium Commission initiative. The majority of the funds had to be raised by the community, and it took us a little while longer than we expected. But we got there in the end, didn’t we?” he added, with a note of pride warming his voice.