I have finally sat down to write in my diary, what a day! My husband decided it would be a lovely idea, this Palm Sunday to bring all our churches together. He felt that a little procession through town would do everyone the world of good. ‘Think of the community spirit’ he said ‘What a wonderful way to bring the six congregations together! I replied that it sounded like a great idea.
That was 10 days ago. I do believe it was the last time I sat down.
Richard held a quick meeting with the wardens, who were initially quite reluctant (Lionel has a rather nasty verruca), but Reverend Richard’s enthusiasm and the mention of collecting buckets and the state of the church roof seem to spur them into action.
After it was announced in the Sunday services last week, we had a flurry of phone calls from people keen to share their ideas for the day. Beryl from St. Arthritis offered to make some leaflets to hand out as we walked. Doris Petterski promised to rally her embroidery circle and join forces with the Nifty Knitters to make some cheerful banners. The congregation at St. Paul the Possible thought it was a wonderful idea! Phyllis rang to say how she had gone home very excited and had subsequently experienced a vision of people marching and singing whilst leaning over the pudding section in Waitrose. She said that Jesus was clearly telling her that we should sing a medley of songs whilst we marched. It was agreed that this was a lovely idea and Irene and James (the new at couple at St. Titus in The Field) offered to put a list of songs together, one representing each church. Mrs West even offered us branches from a tree in her garden that needed chopping down as she felt it would look wonderfully authentic. ‘Perhaps you could wave them about in time with the music’ she said.
We did have a few little hitches, but my wonderful husband bore them well. There was of course the problem of musicians to lead the singing. We decided to try sitting them all on a trailer and towing them in front, but after several disastrous practices we gave up on that idea! The last straw was when Glen (our designated driver) turned a rather sharp corner causing Lois to lose control of her flute which hit Brian sharply in the eye and resulted in him stepping backwards straight into the middle of Barry’s base drum. Fortunately Derek (who is wonderfully technical) hit upon the fantastic idea that we could give each church a Walkman and earphones with all the songs on in correct order. He happened to have a box of Walkman’s in the loft that he had picked up from car boot sales over the years. They would do nicely. Each church could then pick a leader to stand at the front of each group and Sing loudly along with the CD. Everyone else could then follow their leader, resulting in no need for musicians and everyone singing in unison. This saved the day and Derek was indeed the man of the moment.
The last thing to organise was borrowing a Donkey from the local donkey sanctuary. After much discussion my clever husband managed to secure a two hour borrowing of Cecil. Cecil at 38 years was not a lively Donkey. The staff explained that he had dreadful breath but a fairly good temperament.
Last night Richard and I sat down to a glass of sherry and considered what a wonderful event it should turn out to be. We felt positively warm with anticipation and smiled over the way the congregations had come together so well for it.
This morning we did not get off to the best start, the weather predicted ‘occasional showers’ and we had phone call from an irate Mrs West, who said that very early this morning two silly young men had come and chopped off all the branches from her prize winning apple tree instead of taking the branches from the one she had originally offered. Richard had to quickly share some soothing words and said a little prayer on the phone for her unfortunate tree and she became much calmer.
When Richard and I arrived at the Argos car park (our meeting point) we were concerned to find a sorry looking crowd of church goers. It appeared that there had been a strong disagreement over the order in which they should march. Both St. Titus in The Field and Our Lady Mary of the Leftovers felt that they ought to be in the front. St Titus said that on account of their large parish share, that the front was really their rightful place, however the folk from ‘Our Lady’ said that since they were the largest church and surely would be more recognisable. They felt this would make a better first impression. The People from St. Thomas the Lesser said that they didn’t mind where they were and were really very happy to be at the back. Sensing trouble The Reverend Richard gathered everyone together and prayed a hearty prayer which gladdened our hearts and suggested we stick to alphabetical order.
The beautiful handmade banners were distributed amongst the groups, although I must confess that I felt a little uncertain of the knitted ones, but the result was very cheery looking over all. Cecil, the Donkey was led to the front and each chosen leader stood proudly at the head of their church, their Walkman’s strapped to their belts, earphones in and fingers hovering over the play button. We were ready!
My darling husband took his position beside the donkey, his robes billowing slightly in the wind and we started to march. When he felt we had reached a good marching rhythm the Reverend Richard turned and yelled ‘PLAY’ to the crowd. There were several clicks and the singing started. I am not sure that it was quite the joyful sound we had hoped for.
Brian started off the first church well, with a roaring rendition of ‘Dance Then Wherever You May Be’. Unfortunately the second church were a bit slow to start, due to Ernie’s nerves and they started singing: ‘Dance then’ when the first church was on the moon and stars bit. The third church had pressed ‘skip’ accidently and were singing ‘Be Bold, Be Strong’. I have absolutely no idea what happened to churches four and five and the final church claimed that Gerald had not heard any one shout start and were trying to join in with the two different songs they could hear from up front. The noise was deafening and people began to stop and stare. As we marched past Starbucks, frantically waving our bits of prize winning tree, I heard one lady exclaim that she had only ever seen funeral processions like this on the telly and several of the people around her bowed their heads in respect. By the third song it appeared that we were singing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ in a round which I felt was a considerable improvement.
My husband seemed rather unaware of all this and drew us to a halt in the square where he gave a little talk. As he came to a close the heavens opened and rain poured down on us. We decided to call it a day and started the walk/dash back to Argos. On the way the knitted banners soaked up so much water, that several extra people had to be drafted in to carry them, three children had to be separated as their branch waving had become aggressive and the Reverend Richard had to slow his pace so considerably that he ended up at the back of the procession with Cecil the donkey who seemed to be enjoying a leisurely stroll. We finally got back to Argos and all drifted off home to warm ourselves up. My husband thought that would do for churches together for a while and went off to deliver Cecil back to the sanctuary.