Recently I made a new friend on Facebook, Caroline De Lange who lives in Wales.
She noticed I was visiting England and suggested that after our stay in the Cotswolds, B and I came on to Wales and stay with her family. Apparently she and a friend ran a company which organises corporate events in Cardiff, Indaba. She proposed staging an event at which I could give my motivational speech.
I was delighted at this suggestion. I had never been to Wales before. I had spoken in South Africa, America, the Virgin Islands and England. Wales would be a totally new country for me to conquer!!!
“What are the Welsh like?” I asked B.
“They’re…they’re…well…Welsh!” was the enigmatic response.
Glory, I would have to see for myself, I thought.
Do you know that Shirley Bassey was Welsh? She sang: Hey, Big Spender! The minute you walked in the joint, I could see you were a man of distinction, a real big spender, good looking, so divine…..
I hummed happily to myself as we headed towards Dylan Thomas countryside.
We crossed over the river Severn and entered Wales. B had on her SatNav and it happily guided us into Cardiff and straight up to Caroline’s house.
“Here we are,” said B switching off the engine. “I am dying for a cup of tea.”
As we got out the car, I stretched and said: “It will be great finally meeting Caroline. I have only ‘known’ her on Facebook. At long last, the person enters the picture!”
Leaving our suitcases in the car, we mounted the front steps and I knocked on the door.
We heard footsteps and then the door opened. Lo and behold, there stood Caroline! Her hair had been permed. It really suited her, I thought.
“We made it, Caroline!” I said, grinning broadly.
“Hello,” she said, looking at us slightly questioningly.
“Hi there,” I laughed. “I am Gaynor and this is B.”
“Oh…” She shook our hands. The perplexity remained. “I’m sorry, have I met you before?”
“Well, no, but we know each other through Facebook,” I laughed. “Your hair looks glorious,” I said referring to her perm. I hadn’t realised that Caroline was this…well…voluptuous! A photograph and the real thing are poles apart, I thought.
“We know each other through Facebook?” she questioned.
“Yes,” B, ever to the point said, “We are so looking forward to tonight.”
“Tonight?” Caroline said, somewhat blankly and could there be a touch of panic lurking beneath the words?
“Tonight’s speech,” I confirmed slowly.
“Speech?” There was definitely an underlying hysteria there!
“You are Caroline, aren’t you?” B being B, cut to the chase.
“I’m Caroline, yes,” the perplexed woman replied.
“And you’ve organised for me to give my speech tonight,”I finished slowly as if explaining to a child.
“No,” squeaked Caroline. “No, I haven’t!”
“Yes, you have,” I said somewhat desperately, “I am speaking at 7 p.m. at the Chapter Arts Centre.”
“This is the first I’ve heard of it!” was Caroline’s startled response.
There was a pregnant silence.
“You are Caroline De Lange?” asked B in a measured tone.
“No, I’m Carolanne Milsom,” she said in a relieved rush.
“But…but…you should be Caroline De Lange of 11 Old Church Close,” said B rummaging for her address book. “Oh…oh, heck!” she frowned. “I put in 1 Old Church Close instead of 11. We have come to the wrong house.”
“Barbara!” (I always revert to ‘Barbara’ in times of problems and stress!)
“I am so sorry,” B apologised. “That was such a stupid mistake.”
As we turned to go, Carolanne said: “Tell me, what are you speaking about?”
Giving her a big smile, I said: “An incredibly interesting subject – me!”
“Why don’t you come? You would enjoy it,” B put in.
“I am watching Wales play football tonight with my brother and friends. Damn, I would love to have come.”
B handed her one of my cards. “Have a look at Gaynor’s webpage. I think you’ll find it interesting.”
Carolanne smiled. “Thank you. You have certainly piqued my interest. Let’s really connect on Facebook this time!”
I laughed. “That’s a deal!”
Later when drinking steaming cups of tea with the real Caroline, I got a Facebook message from Carolanne.
“Wow, you did not exaggerate. What an incredible story. What a piece of luck you mistakenly knocked at my door. I’m going to enjoy getting to know you. “Break a leg” for tonight’s speech!”
I now have a new friend on Facebook.
I now have a new contact in Wales.
All through a mistaken knock at a door.
I must do this more often!
If you are curious as to how my first speech in Wales was received you might like to read 12 year old Imogen’s blog about the night! Press here!