Sunday 27 April 2008

Not dead, but definitely not saved

14st 4lb, allegedly; at least 6.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,377; Oundle and Cambridge.

The house where I am staying has an upper storey that would be the perfect place to teach children about Pythagoras’s theorem. Not least because, being ickle, they wouldn’t keep banging their heads on the sloping ceiling as I do every time I stand up. The fact that it is providing a valuable reminder that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides does not make it hurt any less. I really thought I’d given myself concussion when I stepped onto the bathroom scales this morning and they told me that I was 14st 4lb, or a full 9lb heavier than I was at home yesterday. I shook my head purposefully, then tried again, but got the same result. Shaking the scales purposefully had equally little effect, so I gave up.

Still, when her sons feel that the time has come, I now know that the way to despatch my aunt in Morpeth humanely is simply to borrow these scales and sneak them into her bathroom, in place of the under-reading model she favours. These ones would make her 12 stone, thereby causing her instant expiry from apoplexy.

Luckily I am made of slightly sterner stuff, and took it in my stride. So I’m not dead, despite the hopes or fears expressed by a number of correspondents who have noted the non-appearance of this blog in recent days. I’ve just been a bit busy. Keep reading and you’ll find out why, though not necessarily instantaneously. Or in as much lurid detail as you would doubtless wish.

This morning I was persuaded to attend my first church service in years, under entirely false pretences. I was promised the Prayer Book of 1662 and some traditional hymns. And what did we kick off with? “Shine Jesus shine!” Which always sounds to me like the runner-up in the competition to be the Norwegian entry for the Eurovision song contest in a particularly thin year. In my view it should be banned except for use by the employers of Latino butlers, encouraging them to put their backs into polishing the family’s shoes and silverware.

Mind you, the last time I heard it was during a God-awful [sic] christening service, which featured no fewer than five hymns I did not know and had no wish ever to hear again. On that occasion the whole congregation was swaying and clapping like they were at some revivalist meeting in the Deep South, rather than in an ancient parish church in the north of England, so I suppose it must be accounted a bonus that these worshippers at least conducted itself with something like traditional decorum. They even got the message quite quickly when I glared at them during the “sign of peace”.

The liturgy bore no resemblance whatsoever to the Book of Common Prayer, though my friend tried to argue that the fact that there was some sort of attempt at any liturgy at all made it closer to 1662 than most places these days. I suppose he might have had a point.

There was a sermon, which concluded with three questions, two of which were “Are you still and quiet enough, often enough, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life?” and “Can you take the same leap of faith as the disciples to carry the good news onwards and outwards?” I did not even understand the third question, but I expect the answer was “no”, as it was to the first two.

During the communion, I regret to report that I amused myself by playing that game I usually reserve for busy tube trains and stations, inspecting the females kneeling at the altar rail and deciding which of them I would be prepared to sleep with, and in which order. Having completed my league table, I was more than a little disconcerted when my number one and two choices advanced to a microphone and delivered a lisping report from the Junior Church group which they had been attending while the grown-ups got on with the main service. They were at least from the “Teens for Jesus” section rather than the Tiny Tots Team, so it could have been worse. But probably not much, now I come to reflect upon it.

Always demonstrating a Luddite reluctance to adapt to new technology, it took me until this afternoon to turn on the satellite navigation equipment in the car I acquired in January. And I now think that it’s absolutely bloody brilliant: the best invention since sliced bread or sexual intercourse, depending on how hungry I am feeling at the time of making the assessment. It piloted me effortlessly to my cousin’s new house in Cambridge, which rather disappointingly proved to be nothing like as hideous as it had appeared in the estate agent’s brochure. Perhaps compiled by an estate agent who was not really in the right job, this featured a selection of photographs suggesting that it was a shoo-in for the title of Ugliest Building in Cambridge; the absolute antithesis of King’s College Chapel. True, it does look a bit like an oversized council house, but it’s large and clearly has the potential to be very comfortable. Much champagne flowed (not that I drank any) while waitresses circulated with trays of delicious canapés produced by Chris The (Regional) Celebrity Chef. The dog covered my aunt’s smart pink suit with muddy paw prints and I met two fans of my newspaper column. So both of us, in our different ways, attained a certain level of satisfaction from our afternoons.

No comments: