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Crimewatch!

Have you noticed that there are some people whose face at rest falls into a frown. I call it an unfortunate face. There are others, like our vicar, who have a naturally warm and smiling face. So imagine my surprise to see the naturally smiling face of our vicar staring out at me from the pages of the local newspaper wearing the uncustomary scowl of an unhappy (and somewhat scary) woman. And what’s more this was to be found in the ‘crime’ section of the newspaper!
To understand this turn of affairs I need to take you back to the previous day. When I was visiting the church I overheard some whispering about an unfortunate event. Unable to believe my ears, when I got home I recounted the fantastical story to my increasingly shocked hubby. Being a practical man he exclaimed “Never in the world!” and insisted we viewed the sight with our own eyes to confirm the veracity.
So we got into our car and drove to the driveway of our sister church, and there before us, rising up like a monstrous carbuncle, was a huge mound of builder’s rubble, completely blocking the entrance to the church! Some unscrupulous person or persons had driven to the church and under cover of darkness had tipped 3 tonnes of builder’s rubble across the driveway, without a moment’s thought for the danger, inconvenience, or cost they were inflicting on the church users.
Despite his advancing years and sometimes unsteady gait my other half decided to scale this obstacle with all of the tenacity, (but not the grace) of Chris Bonington climbing the north face of the Eiger. I am not sure why exactly he did this as there was nothing on the other side, other than the locked and bolted front doors of the church, and the prospect of having to find his way back without breaking a leg or landing face down in the mud. However, despite the odds being against him he did get back safely and confirmed that it was a big pile of rubble and there was no safe way around it. Neither of these pronouncements came as a surprise to me.

The Church is not only a regular place of worship for parishioners, many of whom are past the first flush of youth, it is also a much loved community resource for those important family milestones, baptisms, marriages and sadly funerals. Thinking of this, and the impact of this carelessly dumped obstacle, I had visions of being tasked to use my organisational skills to arrange smartly suited groomsmen, like a chain gang, across the height of the mound, so that they could pass the chiffon clad bridal party from the arms of one to the next, to safely ‘get them to the church on time!’ While the gentlemen of the congregation could practice their ‘fireman’s lift’ with any ladies and children brave enough to face the prospect of being unceremoniously dropped from a height, wearing their Sunday best, should the unstable pile of rubble shift underfoot.

My thoughts were interrupted by my other half marching purposefully up the drive, walking stick in hand, calling ‘we’re going to look for cctv!’ So there he was, on a mission, scouring the buildings opposite for evidence of any outside cameras. ‘Aha!’ he exclaimed, catching me somewhat off guard. Once I had extracted myself from the hedge I had stumbled into I looked in the direction his stick was pointing and right enough there were cameras. Off he went, and before long could be seen, deep in conversation with a couple of older men, staring alternately at a phone and the church drive. I left them to it. Not long after some more gentlemen arrived (of a similar vintage) and there appeared to be a serious ‘strokey beard’ meeting on the drive. There was a lot of staring and pointing and confabbing. Being used to seeing gentlemen ‘shoot the breeze’ I thought nothing of it, until my other half came back to to car and announced ‘right, we’re shifting it’. ‘Who’s shifting what?’ I asked, more than a little alarmed. ‘Me and the lads, we’re shifting the rubble’. I looked from my septuagenarian husband to ‘the lads’, not one of whom was below the age of seventy! I had visions of this Dad’s Army of volunteers, with their ancient spades and rusty wheelbarrows, heart sprays clutched in their hands, trying to shift 3 tonnes of rubble, to goodness knows where, and wondered how they would achieve this without a major incident being declared, and the local A and E being overwhelmed! This was not a well thought out plan. As I was trying to figure out where the nearest community defibrillator was to be found, and the quickest way to get a paramedic on site, heavenly intervention appeared in the form of the vicar, marching up the drive deep in conversation with a representative of the local council. I breathed a sigh of relief. Despite this not being the responsibility of the local council they had agreed, as a gesture of good will, to arrange for the removal of the rubble, and to that end there soon arrived 3 council workmen and a front loader. A much more effective plan than the one dreamed up by my hubby and his new mates! Before long the rubble had been completely disposed of, but not before the arrival on scene of a newspaper reporter with photographer in tow. The vicar duly posed with the workmen (and the pile of rubble) wearing a suitably serious frown to indicate the seriousness of the situation. And so it came to be that our normally smiling vicar had reason to appear in the crime section of our local newspaper. She had not herself committed any crime (thankfully) but a crime had been committed against the community and church family, and on their behalf she allowed her face to display her righteous indignation! Remind me always to remain on the right side of the vicar!

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