Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Imbibing the Spirit


The good old fashioned dog collar. My dad once told me that vicars fashioned their own from old washing up liquid bottles.

The will of God is to burn all your ties.



There has been a post that I have been struggling to write. Every attempt has somehow just not hit the mark or appears a little too… well… intolerant.


This entry has occupied nearly all of my blogging since the story broke. I hope that shows the struggle I have been through with this and explains why, even though I have some reservations, I post it. Please, should you feel the need to copy this or email it – let me know first. My reservations are very real.


In the end I realised that this is an occasion to dig out the dried frog pills and escape into an alternate reality. It doesn’t give any answers and it doesn’t make the problem go away, but it certainly allows the frustration to have a voice.


Every Tuesday evening, the snug bar of the ‘Rat and Ferret’ is turned over to the Reverend Toby Jobson-Hoise for his bible study class.


Most of the regular snug bar users have either set aside Tuesdays as their detox day or have taken to using the lounge bar. This has caused a few tensions. The snug bar regulars don’t appreciate spectators for their high stakes dominoes games and grumble constantly about their regular haunt being taken over by what they describe as “charm mumblers ”.


Some of the lounge bar regulars complain about the constant clicking of ivory and the scent of horse liniment. Everyone complains about the landlord, Sid, constantly griping about the fact that the bible study group managing to make a small sherry last all evening. Generally though, we all get along fine and the ambience of the pub is maintained.


The rather charismatic Reverend Toby is not yet thirty he has managed to pick up a doctorate in philosophy, take up holy orders in the Church of England and gather a rather enthusiastic band of students. Mind you, I must have missed Sunday School the days they discussed some of his interpretations of the book of modern prayer.


Every Tuesday, a little routine plays out. Sid’s grumbling builds to a crescendo and he suddenly throws his grubby tea towel over his shoulder and marches into snug intent on cancelling Reverend Toby’s booking. The lounge falls silent and the sound of an irate Sid drifts into the room. The Reverend Toby has such charisma, that Sid soon re-appears looking all sheepish and saying that the “charm mumblers” are not such a bad bunch.


Exactly what happens during those Tuesday evening confrontations isn’t known. Some say that money changes hands. Those who haven’t known Sid long say that the Reverend Toby appeals to his better nature. The favoured theory is that the Reverend Toby has made some promise of long term rewards.


I find the way that rather slight man armed with a dog collar can somehow get Sid, an ex-royal marine, to slink off to behind the safety of his own bar rather disturbing. When a couple of hairy bikers started to get rather physical over whether “Trumpton” or “Magic Roundabout” was the best, Sid vaulted the bar, grabbed both by the scruff of their necks and had them deposited in the gutter faster than you can say “Time for Bed” (or, to avoid favouritism in the Great Childrens TV debate, “Pugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!”).


Yet Sid is insistent. The regulars must not upset the Reverend Toby.


He’s even set up his own unofficial mediation service. Whenever one of the regulars has a complaint, Mattress Madge takes them to one side and writes it all down and slips it inside the Reverend Toby’s engraved sherry glass.


I’m not at all sure that any the Reverend Toby is entering into the spirit of this co-operation.


A week or so ago, Pastor Gregor McCafferty was invited to address the Rotary Club to discuss temperance. He was the obvious choice, after all as well as being the local Methodist minister; he also runs the district temperance speakeasy (73 varieties of tea – no questions asked).


In the course of his speech, Gregor quoted a Victorian Bishop who suggested that vicars who allowed alcohol to pass their lips could not be trusted.


Reverend Toby and his bible group threw their toys out of the pram. It wasn’t exactly a riot, but they did burn Gregor in effigy.


The bible study class demanded that Gregor issue an apology – which he duly did. Yet still they are sulking around the pub telling anyone who will listens that everybody hates them, that the world is out to get them and that they are going to eat worms.


You can’t help thinking that the reaction of Reverend Toby and his spotty face friends isn’t likely to do their image any good. The snug bar regulars are snickering up their sleeves at their apparent inability to engage in civilised debate.





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2 comments:

pippa said...

i couldn't agree with you more.

but the best thing about this post is that i actually got it without it being explained to me! yee haw! i think that is a first.

i'm glad you posted it. i wouldn't worry too much about it. i think you will find far more agreeing with you than you might think.

xx

sean said...

Wow, you got a comment Sean! I'm so proud of you.