Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Supplement: Silent Day

Sir Richard Arcos writes: Ms. Madison was supposed to do this week's offering, but she called in and told me that she was going to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, as she was in London and between cases. Accordingly, I packed my kit and drove off to a church I knew of. A large building on a hill in Suffolk, it enjoys a highly unusual climate, in that it snowed there last night. I am reliably informed that the Buarth hill in Aberystwyth is the same way. The Vicar, the Rev. Pryce Price-Pyse-Pryce, is a man of decidedly aristocratic Welsh pedigree, although he still has to glare at those in his congregation who snigger at his name when it is announced, as it always is, by the Parish clerk, the Hon. Jabez Johnson.

I arrived, and was conducted to a nice box pew, it being explained that my Rolls had been spotted coming from a long way off. I was given a hymn book, and a prayer book so old that it contained prayers for King William IV.

When the Vicar turned to the congregation and intoned the words: 'Dearly Belov├ęd Brethren...", I realised something was up. The words were offered so slowly that each syllable acquired a new syllable. As the liturgy continued, heads began to nod. It was with joy we rose to sing 'Come, all ye faithful...' Sitting, the liturgy resumed.
The prayer for the Sovereign was read as it stood in the prayer-book. It is to be hoped that Prince William comes to the throne soon, and enjoys a long reign. That way this deplorable circumstance can be ended by judicious use of a ball-point pen.

The congregation read the responses at the same speed as the venerable cleric. It was like watching Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Every so often someone would fall asleep, like a soldier falling, dying, into the snow.

The sermon, a half-hour discourse on the subject of Joseph, was similarly slow. So much so, in fact, that Price-Pryse-Pryce himself fell asleep during it, and had to be awakened by the clerk, when it became clear that he was not simply pausing for thought (or breath). He shouted 'Amen!' and that ended the sermon.
I took the opportunity to have an extended sleep, and was, like the rest of the congregation, woken up in time for Sunday Lunch.

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