As I recline in my high backed leather chair overlooking the emerald humps of the distant Biffordshire Downs, I realise what a lucky Archbishop I am. Regular readers of this column, in fact both of you, will no doubt recall the time I spent in the missionary position at the Kwicky Fitty Women’s refuge in darkest Africa.
As the only male in the refuge it was very much my responsibility to ensure a shoulder for the women to cry on and to rest their brow beaten, erm brows, was provided. It was important to me to spread the message of our Lord to these people and to welcome them in to my bosom. I worked tirelessly to offer them succour and to instil in them the Christian way, as I knew it would clean their souls and give them some direction as to how they could improve their lot. In fact, the hour I spent there will forever be etched into my memory. Very much like a brass rubbing, or an etch-a-sketch drawing, I often return to the memory to remind me of how much better off I am than them, those poor fallen ladies of Kwitty Fitty.
Memories are very much like a favourite hanky, I’m sure you’ll agree. They are brought out and fondled at times of hardship and difficulty to help dab away the stresses and strains of everyday life. Why, just the other day I reached for my memory hanky when Gumpert, my live-in South American Houseboy, informed me that he had eaten the very last of the Frosted Shreddies. Nothing can beat me with the Lord in my heart and my memory hanky in my pocket!
Regular readers will by now no doubt be waiting for the aforementioned Gumpert to try and force his way into my intimate space, or conservatory as I prefer to call it. Right on cue my willowy man servant burst his way into my reminiscing with a look of pure agitated fury on his face. It had been raining and I noticed, as Gumpert thrashed his limbs around on my Persian rug, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, that his short singlet was clinging tightly against his heaving chest. Gumpert had plumped for jogging shorts to complete his look for the day, which surprised me given that rain and heavy winds had been predicted to hit Biffordshire that morning. I couldn’t help but notice too that the clothes he was wearing had been the same outfit he had had on late last night when he had broken off his meeting with his friend from the village to grumpily bring me my steaming cup of Horlicks in bed.
I can only assume Gumpert’s agitation had stayed with him throughout the night as I was woken on many occasions by some loud banging and grunting emanating from Gumpert’s quarters. I knew he and his friend were planning to host a roller disco in the village hall in order to raise funds to replace Mrs Marshwhip’s Border Collie puppy, which had got itself entangled in a hot air balloon which visited the village last week. The boys’ willingness to help Mrs Marshwhip fair broke my heart and I overlooked the sounds coming from his room in order to offer my assistance to their efforts. I could only imagine that the two lads had climbed up onto Gumpert’s bed to perform a dry run of the roller disco itself, such was the squeaking and the creaking coming from my live-in help’s double divan.
They had clearly given their all to poor Mrs Marshwhip’s cause throughout the night as I noticed Gumpert’s friend leave in the morning looking very much the worse for wear. I offered him some thick white toast and a reviving beverage but so sheepish was he that he barely acknowledged me.
A few hours later and here was Gumpert wildly frothing at the mouth about some sort of domestic disturbance the root cause of which I was still to uncover. Gumpert had, by now, rather flounced out of the conservatory and had begun to roll one of his foul-smelling Moroccan cigarillos. I noticed how his eyes lit up on his first drag on the rancid stick and admired the way the smoke wafted and seemed to embrace the dark curls of his hair which flopped lazily over his brow. His shorts had ridden up around his thighs with the fury of whatever ailed him and his rancour had certainly brought him out in a light sweat.
As if reading my mind, Gumpert quickly adjusted himself and stood up to point towards the garden lawn while uttering some evil-sounding Spanish oaths under this breath. I had heard him earlier that morning hard at work in the garden and I had peaked out of my bedroom window to see him double bent and straining to rake up the leaves which had scattered themselves across the grass, doubtlessly encouraged by that morning’s strong winds and inclement rain. The neat pile of leaves Gumpert had so carefully created were now blown to all parts, and were clearly taunting my up-tight South American home help with their new found freedom.
As I peered out into the garden to ponder how we might resolve the chlorophyll-centred conundrum, a sudden beam of ethereal light caught my eye. As the light from above shone down it caught the handle of the kitchen drawer behind me. I turned to investigate further and after a few robust tugs on the handle discovered a rolled up bunch of bin liners nestled in the very heart of the drawer. My path become clear.
Taking the bin liners I marched through the drawing room and out through the patio doors, my Christian values preventing me from shooting the triumphant glance towards Gumpert that my darker inner soul was begging me to do. Not that Gumpert cared; he was now engaged on the telephone arranging another fundraising evening with his friend. They were meeting, by all accounts, in the Lamb and Duvet Pub before thrashing out further wheeled musical entertainments back in Gumpert’s room after closing time.
Not to be swayed by Gumpert’s social diary arrangements, I opened two bin liners and succeeded in stuffing the errant leaves into them, using a couple of boards which had miraculously appeared on the patio a few minutes before, to coax them into their plastic prisons. What would have taken many hours of sweaty leaf retrieval effort had been resolved in a matter of minutes. Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
Archbishop Dr Robert Carolgees will be officiating at Biffordshire Speedway next Saturday. He’ll be blessing the Biffordshire Bandits’ bikes ahead of their crunch meeting with the Owlford Owls, and praying for a Bandit victory. Come along and touch the hem of his ecclesiastical garment and be cured! £5 for haemophiliacs, £10 per leper, £15 for gluten intolerants. Asthmatics are asked to book in advance.