A series of events that seemed unfortunate at the time made me decide to withdraw my services from my then employer, sell up and return home. Initially I enjoyed a period of what can only be described as "wallowing in it."
In the interim years dad had scaled the dizzy heights of St Ivy's church; from a simple parishioner to a sidesman, from a church warden to a minister. Being aged and retired though, he was only a 'second fiddle minister,' but my reverend father could bury and marry folk just like the best of them.
Dad was 'enthusiastically' mentored by Rev "Black Cloud" Sourby, who may not have been as joyless as he first appeared, but he certainly knew how to disguise his evangelical zeal and Christian good cheer. This was the very man who'd coined the phrase, "Grimace, God loves you."
St Ivy's was one of those ancient churches. Not the sort of place where one goes to be healed; there was no wheelchair access for one thing. Although, with some careful manoeuvring it might just be achievable. However, with a few modifications and a bit of careful thought it could be made totally impossible.
No, it was more the sort of church where you went in healthy and came out worse for wear. Just one of the sermons delivered in those morbid tones would have been more than enough to give migraines to the untrained.
But Rev Sourby could lend something to a funeral service that few others could.
Anyway, as I was saying, I had moved back in with my parents, for my sins (or theirs), but quickly learned how privileged I was. If for no other reason than hearing about all the latest local deaths before they became public knowledge. And some before they’d actually happened.
I made one or two tentative attempts to re-integrate myself back into a life that once was by attending village fêtes and so on. Some people looked exactly as they had years before, almost as if they had rotting paintings of themselves in their attics. While others were totally unrecognizable, but I didn't know who they were.
Likewise, I was just another stranger in their midst. A lifetime ago the locals knew me because I was an appendage to a pillar of the community, albeit a spotty and obnoxious one (me, not the pillar). Now no longer youthful, I was an alien on my own stamping ground. For me, around every corner there were constant reminders of bygone days. For the villagers, around every corner there was some greyish, balding bloke with a fag in his mouth who they'd never seen before and didn't care if they ever saw again.
That was all about to change: after another series of events which seem unnecessary to describe, I bought myself a Dalmatian (a spotty dog rather than a Croatian person). I became an indoor type with an outdoor life. A life which consisted primarily of dog ends, dog collars and now dog poohs.
Copyright © 2013 M J Race
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