From Our Church Mag – Oct

Elves have left the building

Where was I? Oh yes, cold callers. Obviously I get the ones that can’t read as they wouldn’t bother knocking if they understood the “No cold callers” sign on my front door. The ones that make me laugh, though, are the ones that ring up from former British dominions. Now these boys CAN read. The trouble is, it totally throws them if you say something that their scripts haven’t anticipated. Take one that I answered when I was up at Ol’ Grampa (recently promoted to Ol’ GREAT Grampa) Jericho’s last week. Hallo, I’m calling you about a reported fault on this computer at your house, was his opening line. Really, I asked? That’s very clever of you as we don’t have a computer, so how can someone have reported a fault? Silence. Well? Come on, tell me. Silence. Right, says I, this phone is registered with the telephone preference service. Don’t call here again, because I will report you and you will be fined. Do you understand? Evidently, this was not something his crib sheet of 1,001 replies that counteract any customer resistance when you’re trying to rip him off, erm I mean provide him with an essential service that will separate him from wads of the readies. He hung up.

I lied though. Dad isn’t registered with the TPS and anyway, I don’t think their remit extends to sundry subcontinents.

***

Now talking of Great Grumps J, he read my September Off the Wall offering and asked why there was no serious message that month. I don’t do a serious message every month, was my reply, but just to please Dad, here’s one.

At Mind the Gap recently, we had a session on integrity. Apparently, we have to wear our Christian faces every day, not just for an hour on Sundays. Fair enough, I can fake that if I inadvertently bump into any of the faithful in the frozen desserts aisle of Asda. I just ooze integrity. You could trust me with your life savings and I would not be tempted by some 3 year old thoroughbred in the 3 o’clock at Uttoxeter. But what about past peccadilloes? You know, those things you’d rather keep quiet about, not the things you take out sea from the beach in Benidorm. Must we come clean about our prior misdemeanours before we can expect others to trust us? If we did, would any trust evaporate before it is earned?

I’ll leave you to ponder on that one and I won’t even finish this paragraph with a comic observation.

***

Integrity. Trust. These are things we expect adults to have when we are children and our illusions crack somewhat when we discover the truth.

Consider my latest commuter tale. On the train coming home one evening during the paralympics, a family got in my carriage at West Ham. Granma sat close by, her grandson next to her. I couldn’t see, but he must have been a bit of a fidget as she told him that little boys must sit stock still in their train seats. It’s the law, she said.

He is going to be one disappointed young man when he finds out in later life that Granny fibbed. That is up there with finding out that elves are not moon faced, jolly fellows that live in the Magic Faraway Tree and give you toffees that get bigger the more you suck them. No, real elves live in Middle Earth and they are, on occasion, quite warlike. Nasssty elvesess my precioussss, we don’t like them.

***

When it comes to the law, I am reminded of two young (once) mothers who told their daughters that it was the law that they had to join the Brownies and shout out dob dob dibbly dob when Akela couldn’t find brown ale. It was years later that the now substantially elderly mothers learned that Akela would lock the Brownies in the church hall with only a rat and some proficiency badges for company while she spent the next couple of hours in the pub.

***

That reminds of the time, some years ago now, when we were able to open windows on our line. A girl across the carriage had the window open. She was facing in the direction of travel. A woman sat opposite her and closed the window. The girl remarked, perfectly politely, that she had just opened the window. The woman said back that she wanted it closed, despite her sitting position being away from the airflow once the train was in motion. The girl asked why she didn’t sit somewhere else as she had been there first. Because I want to sit here was the woman’s response.

I dunno. I’ve lost count of the times when grown ups have displayed lack of manners like this in the face of exemplary behaviour by the young. I hope I never get grumpy like that.

Bon voyage readers. Happy trails. Stand well back from the platform’s edge and mind the closing doors.

My great friend and partner in crime, Mr Mike Ardly, couldn’t be bothered to draw a cartoon this month. Instead he has reworked a picture that he made in honour of Reg, our postman at work. Reg was on TV’s A Place in the Sun 9 years ago and it was repeated on satellite telly a fortnight ago. I dunno, hundreds of channels and they show a slimmer Reg and his good lady wife hunting down a pied a terre in the Loire valley.

Reg told us that he was told by the TV crew that he had to show enthusiasm, even if the gaffs shown to him were hovels. Wow. That was the word. Anyone knowing Reg, though, would have trouble believing he’d even get worked up at seeing live Christians on the menu at lions’ feeding time at London Zoo.

Anyway, here’s the place Reg and missus bought. Not bad for 90,000 euros, huh?

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