As I sit reclining in my solid, oak backed chair in my conservatory-cum-nook I can’t help but think of the impact our Lord Jesus Christ has had on the humble Brussels sprout. The poor, rather rotunded vegetable, is conspicuous only by its absence from our dinner tables for 364 days a year. And yet, on the day of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, the humble brassica is presented to kith and kin all smothered in butter, often arm in arm with some nutty chestnuts in a veritable vegetable feast for the eyes. I often wonder the damnation we would all be suffering if Herod and his evil flying bats had managed to extinguish the life of our Lord and Saviour before he had even managed to get into a pair of short trousers. Perhaps the diminutive sprout would never have been invented, perish the thought. Our festivities would be ruined although, as my friend and colleague the Very Reverend Malcolm Powder pointed out, there would be no festivities to be ruined had Herod’s hordes managed to snuff out the infant Lord Jesus before he had even done his first standing up wee.
As I began to prepare my evensong lecture on that very same subject my vegetable musings were rudely interrupted by what can only be described as a high pitch shriek emanating from the garden outside. Gumpert, my lithe South American live-in help had rather uncharacteristically offered to tidy up the garden log pile that morning which had rested lazily against Mrs Arbuthnot’s side of the fence for many years. So long had the logs lied undisturbed I would often joke with my guinea-pig eating live-in help that perhaps it had become some sort of portal to a lost miniature world inhabited by tiny dinosaurs. I was, of course, trying to interest the tanned domestic in garden invertebrates and hoped that my Jurassic jokings would encourage him to investigate further and become amazed by the woodlice and molluscs that he would surely find within.
My ploy was to divert his interest away from his late night carpentry hobby about which I was starting to receive complaints from my normally insouciant neighbours, dear Mrs Arbuthnot and the rather wild Comely-Smythes. I say late night carpentry hobby as I must confess I have yet to see the results of Gumpert’s nocturnal banging and scrapings which are beginning to irk my dear neighbourly friends. He certainly spends many a sweaty night in his room with a couple of builders from the village, so one can only assume that getting wood to join is the object of their perspiratory endeavours.
That notwithstanding, Gumpert’s clear shriek had jolted me from my thoughts and, deciding that my giraffe fur lined slippers were not the best mode of propulsion across the muddied garden, I reached for my pair of Indonesian rubber gumboots which I keep by my conservatory-cum-nook door in case of emergency. The boots, I should explain, where a gift from one of my parishioners, Huxley Stout, who had fetched the rubber for the boots himself during a guided BMX tour of the Indonesian uplands. Huxley was delighted to be able to present the boots to me after worship one Sunday and had even tied a purple ribbon around each one. To match, he gleefully informed me, my ecclesiastical gown. Huxley was quite the adventurer and as he handed me over the ribbon entwined footwear he enthusiastically explained that there would be a gap on my pews next Sunday as he was off to Lima that next weekend. All he asked in return for the thoughtful gift was the chance to pump Gumpert for information about the sprawling dense continent Gumpert called home. My taut domestic was only too pleased to help and judging by the banging and thumping coming from his quarters the pair had a lively debate about how best to explore dark jungle recesses.
Reaching the garden I saw that Gumpert had now decided to slump against Mrs Arbuthnot’s fence and was squeezing and pawing at his right index finger. His pain had not prevented him from lighting one of his foul smelling cigarillos, which, I noticed, was smouldering dangerously close to his right flip flop. With a face as red as beetroot, Gumpert motioned to his swollen digit and I could clearly see a large splinter from the casually slumped log pile had clearly embedded itself deep into his flesh. With the blood draining from my face I immediately began to prepare my journey to hospital which, given recent NHS cuts, was now located in a shed off the A458 near Whump. Suddenly a strange beam of ethereal light bathed a slightly opened drawer in the kitchenette. There, glinting in the glorious divine light was a pair of tweezers. My path became clear. Why, just utilising the small cosmetic device to pluck the splinter from Gumpert’s dainty finger would save me from hours of highly stressed shed-based medicinal care. Verily the Lord doth move in Mysterious Ways!
The Very Reverend Dr Robert Carolgees will be officiating at the Cum-on-Wye Women’s Institute Otter Hunt next Thursday. Please bring 50p for the Hawiian Luau and a bag of mints for the fish. Asthmatics are asked to book in advance.