"Is Mary's card around? I've not signed it yet," I said to Maisie.
"No one except me and Maudie have signed it. We bought it weeks ago and thought it would be best to give it to T.Aldous straight away to sign so that we'd get the usual delay over and done with first and then get it round the libraries in time for her retirement. Just this once we wanted to avoid getting everyone to sign it, give it to T.Aldous and then not get it back till a week after the event."
"I don't need to ask the next question, do I?"
"Better not. I'd only cry."