Dear Friends

‘A change’, so the old adage goes, ‘is as good as a rest’.

Unfortunately I cannot vouch for the validity of this sweeping generality as I am, what the other old adage identifies as, ‘the exception that proves the rule’.

I write to you from the cramped and rather damp confines of our ‘luxury’ caravan at the Estuary View Holiday Village where my good lady wife and I have come to recharge our ecclesiastical batteries.

I confess to not yet having enjoyed what the brochure somewhat elastically refers to as the ‘sun-kissed golden sands’ and instead have as yet only managed to enjoy the rain-soaked utility block which is positioned but four feet from our window.

Our plans to visit a local church were scuppered when Mr Bradshaw, the proprietor of this latter day Colditz, discovered that a man of the cloth was in residence and promptly volunteered my services to lead ‘Hallelujah Hour‘, his desperate attempt to keep any of the faithful amongst the inmates from escaping to the village church, whereupon seeing the myriad B&Bs that line the village street, they might succumb to the lure of their charm and warmth.

I can only but think that the Hallelujah Hour derives its name from the cry of relief that goes up whence these sixty painful minutes are up. It is a preacher’s worst nightmare to be faced with a congregation whose constituents are but one man and his dog. It must be presumed that on this fated day one half of this infamous duo was off chasing rabbits or some such canine pursuit. This left just me and Mr Jolly, the resident white coat (a bleaching accident having drained away every last colourful memory of his days at Butlins) to go through the motions.

I was beginning to wonder how two unaccompanied voices might survive the rigours of Mr Bradshaw’s extensive list of suggested hymns (my wife and able pianist being bedridden with a suspiciously sudden outbreak of something vague), when Mr Jolly whipped out from his top pocket two teaspoons which he proceeded to play, without respite, for the duration.

The trauma of his interminable clattering was such that I fear there are some hymns that I may never be able to enjoy again.

The upside of this was that, unbeknownst to me, Mr Bradshaw took it upon himself to pipe this calamitous hour to the furthest corners of the site and Mr Jolly’s dubious talent was not only heard by a holidaying minion of the Songs of Praise television programme’s production team but Mr Jolly has also now secured himself a slot when the show returns to the parish next spring.

That Songs of Praise is broadcast at the precise same time as St Cliff’s evening service is something for which I will be ever grateful.

Onward and upward



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