On Sunday mornings at the church where I served as a curate a small group of familiar faces would gather in one corner, just as the service began. Mumbling their way through the hymns and hardly ever going forward for communion, or even a blessing, they knew that after the service everyone stayed on for coffee and biscuits. They always chose the nearest corner to the coffee urn, and as the last chords of the final hymn died away the biscuits would start to disappear.
From the Vicarage
From the vicarage
Easter is late this year, and as I write most of Lent stretches ahead of us. So perhaps it was contemplating the thought of no cake for the next few weeks that drew my eye to a newspaper article by the singer Charlotte Church.
In her case, it was not cake but alcohol that she had been abstaining from. Feeling the benefits of ‘Dry January’ had led her to embrace a dry February as well, resisting pressure from others to drink and feeling so much better for it.
From the vicarage
On a train journey recently, Mrs Vicarage announced that she would like a cup of tea. So, Yours Truly duly made his way to the On-Board Shop (that’s what the Buffet Car is called now) in search of refreshments.
Arriving at the On-Board Shop, I stood at the counter and expected to be greeted with the usual “Can I help you?” The attendant, however, was chewing the end of a pen and puzzling over a form that she was trying to fill in. Looking up, she waved her pen towards me and asked if I could help her!
If you drive, you probably know what it’s like to turn into a busy supermarket car park, carefully follow the arrows to a suitable parking space, and have to swerve to avoid someone who has apparently noticed neither the arrows nor the ‘no entry’ signs telling them that they are going the wrong way.
As a student teacher, I remember the advice that we were told always to follow when on school placements. Before taking a seat in the staff room, make sure that it’s not the one that Mr Bloggs always sits in – you won’t be forgiven!
In school, I once asked one of my classes how many of them would like to be famous. Some liked the idea – finding their X-Factor or becoming a famous athlete really appealed to them. Others weren’t so sure – they preferred their lives as they were. Here at the Vicarage we now have a Celebrity Bunny. Not the Easter Bunny, but our own Peter Rabbit. He is getting old, and problems with his teeth require a visit to the vet every couple of months.
I made a cup of tea and settled down to watch the news on television. Although outside the sound of fireworks was telling me that it was barely November, my TV had updated itself. It was nearly Christmas, it was saying, and it had added a channel that would allow me to watch as many sugary, sentimental Christmas films as I liked just to prove it. That, of course, along with all the snowy, tinselly commercials telling me where I should be doing my Christmas shopping this year, and what I should be buying.
I have never forgotten the Sunday morning, just a few weeks after I arrived, when I climbed into the pulpit and began my sermon with the story of the three vicars who had bats in the belfry. If you were there, you probably remember how it goes. If you weren’t, sadly I don’t have space here to tell you how it ends. In any case, it hasn’t seemed quite so funny since it turned out that I also have bats, not just in the belfry but in other places too – and they’re not housetrained, either.