Friday Evening

The Rev

The strange thing about the Rev is his illnesses which he claims started the day he was ordained. This year, for example, he has had tonsillitis, laryngitis, ulcers on his uvula, rhinitis, sinusitis and chilblain's. With spring and crop-spraying upon us the poor Rev's hayfever will be most of the running 'til late summer. The Nam says that either the Rev has Deep Down Conflicts about his calling and should try re-birthing or he should obtain a post with the City Mission for Deaf Waifs. As I have said, the Nam is always good for new perspectives.

Anyway, we will be seeing the Rev in the Crown & Thorns for a few jars before the laryngitis returns for a second innings. I like the Rev the best of all from the end of August to mid-October. One of the things that attracts me to him is the fact that he never talks about God and when you bear in mind that he can hardly speak for ten months of the year that's pretty good going for a man of the cloth. It's not that I have anything personal against God but a vicar talking about Him is so predictable. Another thing in the Rev's favour is that the state of his health tends to make him a good listener.

"Been to see the Rev then have we?" observes the Snorter as I walk into the bar - no secrets in Wymsey.

"Yes, he's coming on nicely, I reckon he'll have to do a sermon this Sunday."

"Well that should set him back a week or two, the silly old sod."

"Where's Nance?" I ask, observing that the Snorter is not a nice person. "Gone round to the bloody Nam's, he got back this morning."

"Oh good." Somehow I can never bring myself to have a full-bodied conversation with the Snorter and in the silences that mingle freely when we are alone I have often speculated as to why this might be. There was a time when I was convinced that he had telepathic powers that jammed my brainwaves. Then there was the Theory of Social Influence and the Lowest Common Denominator. My current thinking is that I just do not like the man.

"Did the Rev mention the bloody Parish Council Herman Kranzig Memorial?" asks the Snorter.

Herman Kranzig had brought his family from Germany before the First World War, settled in Wymsey and - except for a couple of periods of internment - had dedicated his life to making a fortune and doing good works in the area. Local people had had to put up with the Herman Kranzig Betterment Lending Library in East Fartherdowne - now an antiques emporium. Then there was the Kranzig Community Centre in Sharvingham and Kranzig Avenue on the council estate outside Lower Sideham Newtown. We in Wymsey, particularly the Thorns faction, had actively resisted any attempts to celebrate the man because of his strange attitude to the drinking of beer which had led him to rant and rave from the pulpit of the Methodist chapel in Fartherdowne Lane.

Although dead some ten years just the mention of his name has been known flatten a fresh pint of Winter Brew. The chapel is now the Nam's home from where he sells organic vegetables, free range eggs and Victorian chapel pews. It is from there that the area is washed in New Age vibrations which the Wesley Brothers, even from their vantage point, must find as confusing as we do.

"No he didn't but then you know the Rev sees himself as something of a peacemaker. Although from what Charlie Stebbings says it's going to be a bench."

"Where are they going to put it?"

"That's the rub, according to Charlie not only are they going to put it on the Green it is going to be right outside facing the pub." I reply.

"That's bloody mad."

"Well it's certainly provocative especially when you conceder that it will have a brass plaque with his name on it. We'll have do something or before we know it you'll all be drinking lemonade in the Kranzig Arms."

"Not me." growls the Snorter.

"Then we will have to galvanize our loins and have a Meeting. We'd better discuss it with the Nam, he's done lot's of protesting in his time." I say, picking up our glasses and making for the bar.

The Nam and Little Nance enter while I'm at the bar and when I return Gordon is already talking about the Kranzig Memorial Bench. "What we have here is a direct act of provocation on the part of the Parish Council probably in league with the PPC, the Constabulary and the Taylors' Biblical Society. It's all this nosy parkering political atmosphere we've been subjected to of late, I expect they've been planning this between gin and tonics. At this moment what we need is a mole, someone on the PPC, who is on speaking terms with the Parish Council, who wouldn't be suspected of being a spy and who would support us."

"Will he come waving a piece of paper?" sneered the Snorter.

"This is serious, our peace of mind is at stake." replies the Nam.

I have been considering the mole and the possibility of forming an Action Group and a Committee. "There's only one person who fits the bill and that's the Rev. We'll form an Action Group, how about Regulars Against Benches Action Group or RAGBAG for short?"

"Like it," says the Nam, "RAGBAG, yep, it has a grass roots ring to it." "

Bloody rubbish."

"Oh Snorter." sighs Nance.

I undertake to inform the Rev and to deal with any moral issues that might interfere with his new role, "We now have to form a Committee and start a fighting fund."

"Why do we have to have a fighting fund?" the Snorter wants to know.

"To cover expenses and eventualities " I reply, "Now we need a Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Fundraiser, Press Officer and Co-opted Member. Nance you can be Fundraiser, Snorter you can be the Co-opted Member, Nam you're the Secretary and I volunteer to be Chairman and Treasurer."

"What about John?" asks Little Nance.

"He can be an ordinary member and Honary Archivist." I reply.

"What does a Co-opted Member do then?" the Snorter wants to know.

"Well you listen carefully to the expert members and represent the ordinary members." I tell him.

"But there's only John and he won't have any views 'til it's all over." says the Snorter sulkily.

"That's true, I've got it - you can be Recruiting Officer as well then you can get lots of members to represent." Checkmate, sometimes I shudder at the sadist in me.

The Nam is visibly excited by ours plans and I fear that we will be hearing about Red Lion Square, the Torness Occupation, Greenham Common and the Greater Wymsey Hedgerow Campaign of 1996 so I ask him how his re-birthing went.

"It wasn't re-birthing, I have been learning the Lorna-Courrier Method." he replies.

"Oh good." say the Snorter.

"Was it good?" Nance wants to know.

"Fantastic, I mean I think that it is going to really effect my life, like it has given me a new perspective on what I'm up to - you know what motivates me." enthuses the Nam.

"God knows." the Snorter genuinely remarks and is rewarded with one of the Nams all embracing smiles that fill his face when he comes back from one of his courses. We round the evening off with another drink and agree to have our first RAGBAG Committee Meeting the following evening after the Match with East Fartherdowne.

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