Sunday, June 08, 2008
It's been a year since my family downshifted to the North and I was just wondering whether Strife in the North would ever be as successful as the Mayles and the O'Reillys had been before me when Milly ran into the kitchen. ‘Mummy’ she cried, ‘The vicar just parachuted in to the back garden!’ This was no surprise of course. It’s a large parish here in The North and the last incumbent had made it quite clear he was taking his bicycle with him when he retired. I followed my daughter outside where a large familiar grin appeared from under a billowing pile of red silk. ‘Oh bloody hell!’ he said, ‘where the fuck am I?’ I had rather hoped that after falling ten thousand feet from a plane and my face being the first thing he saw then some witty comment about seeing angels might have been the least I could have expected. Obviously a protestant, I thought. I didn’t hear that kind of language from Cormac Murphy O'Connor when he dropped in, and he went right through the roof of the greenhouse after his reserve failed.
‘I was sure this was the airfield!’ He said, ‘I saw the runway!’. ‘That was my drive dear’, I explained. ‘But what about that great big fucking cross on the grass?!’ he added. Well, I make no apologies for my herbaceous borders being arranged to show The Almighty where to concentrate the little amount of sunshine he saves for The North. My Church of England suspicions were confirmed when I saw that he was jumping with an organisation called the Red Devils. It was all for charity, it was explained to me. I just hope this doesn’t make people think only Anglicans are concerned about others. The Archbishop of York may have joined up with the Paras to raise money for charity but our very own pope already joined the Hitler Youth for their humanitarian work years before.
'This is all very embarassing', confessed the bishop, 'You won't tell anyone about this will you?' he asked. I smiled reassuringly. I thought I might mention it on my blog but that was the next best thing to keeping it a secret. The parachtists began arguing amongst themselves (yes, definitely Church of England) so I decided to leave them to it and quietly returned to pondering how I could break with the legacy of the downshifting memoir and reassure readers I wasn't just making it all up, sigh...