As I sat reclining in the solid oak and beaver fur lined study chair so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, I found my mind wandering restlessly toward the subject of the church’s view of Halloween which Biffordshirians of all ages had been enthusiastically preparing for.
It is, of course, when all the souls of the dead are supposed to rise again to walk the earth and, demonic overtones aside, I must admit it is a season I rather enjoy.
I got very much into, and I am certain dear readers will excuse the pun, the spirit of the season by settling down the evening before to watch one of the latest horror releases on Nutflex, which Gumpert kindly installed onto my iPad for me.
Nutflex, my lithe South American home help reliably informed me, was free to view although I noticed from the account settings that he had only quite recently paid a fee for several Greco Roman wrestling films; a genre I know he has a great passion for.
However, before I could even choose a Nutflex film to settle down in front of, my evening was disturbed by my home help, who, in a state of clear agitation, had grabbed my iPad, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, and had shoved it to one side to gesticulate down towards the front door.
Already that day I had had to suspend my enjoyment of the Times crossword, four down had me in knots from before breakfast time – the clue was ‘Upstairs Lubricant’, KY something, e, l, l, something, and I was determined to crack it before supper.
The chance, however, of the crossword coming to a successful conclusion had been wrestled from my control by Gumpert who, as he was to do later that evening, had interrupted my musings to indicate that something was afoot in the household.
He grumpily mumbled to me that a parishioner had knocked at the door and that he had let them into the hall, a rare example of him dispensing one of his supposed duties as my home help.
There, looking rather forlorn on the hall Persian rug, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, was Mrs Crudité and her young son Arthur. Poor Arthur was hiding beneath his mother’s skirts and was trembling and crying in clear distress.
I ushered the pair through to the drawing room, where Mrs Crudité managed to bring the fruit of her rather overactive loins, Arthur, I should explain, was the 11th child she had borne in just over 13 years, to the front of her pleated skirt.
Mrs Crudité was not a regular churchgoer you understand but poor Arthur’s reputation did rather precede him. I believe the moniker ‘pumpkin boy’ had been rather unimaginatively given to the trembling youth by his peers and his condition, it would appear, had worsened.
Quite why Mrs Crudité had decided to dye the unfortunate youngsters’ hair green and tie it up in a tight knot was lost on me. Although I am certainly no expert in gourds and squashes it did appear to my untrained eye that her actions, if anything, had made poor Arthur with his bright orange and puffy leathery face even more pumpkin like than it perhaps could have been.
I had to explain to Mrs Crudité that the Lord had not blessed me with healing hands and suggested she tried Dr Woo the Chinese acupuncturist who had recently moved to the village from the foothills of Szechuan province.
I could recommend Dr Woo’s services with some gusto as over the past few weeks he had been a regular visitor to the parochial house.
Gumpert, I should explain, suffers terribly with his lower back and inner thighs and it appeared Dr Woo’s healing hands had worked wonders on my sinewy South American aide.
It had taken many sessions to cure the ailing Gumpert and his healing hadn’t been without its sacrifices and exertions given the slow moans and banging emanating from Gumpert’s room, often well into the small hours.
I would often bump into Dr Woo on the way to breakfast and the poor man had rather developed a limp of his own, due in part I was certain of the enthusiastic effort and interest he was taking in Gumpert’s thighs and lower back.
With Mrs Crudité dealt with my mind turned back to that four down problem, but as mentioned my evening was to be disturbed once more.
As I settled down to enjoy my Nutflex film Gumpert had burst angrily into my study to indicate that some small children were at the door of the parochial house. Peering down at them from the top of the stairs, I could see three children from the newly constructed Danny Dyer estate on the edge of the village.
One I could see had been wrapped in toilet paper, another had scrawled red lipstick all over his face, while a third appeared to be dressed as the Conservative MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg.
My heart suddenly lurched forward as I realised the trio were trick or treaters and knowing the Danny Dyer estate as I did I realised that without a treat the trick would likely to be pernicious on the household. Not having any confectionary to hand the threat of some beastly act being employed on us by the trio was becoming ever increasingly likely.
Suddenly from behind a cloud a solid beam of lunar light burst through the front door and iridised a pack of Gumpert’s rolling tobacco which he had left on the hall table after a particularly heavy acupuncture session with Dr Woo.
My path became clear. Catching Gumpert’s gaze I indicated that he should perhaps roll one of his foul-smelling cigarillos for each our seasonally attired guests who by now were menacingly eyeing up the hall of the parochial house, packed as it is with precious ornaments many of which were a gift from my parishioners, with larcenous intent.
My concerns that the hand rolled cigarillos would not slake their thirst for confectionary fell on stony ground as the trio happily accepted a light from Gumpert before trudging around to Mr and Mrs Knightly-Stain across the way, joyously puffing away on the Columbian tobacco.
Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!