The Vicar trudged wearily along the footpath that linked Popwell to the village of Shagton where he lived. He had thought about driving the two miles there and back, but why risk a drink-driving ban when the local fuzz were so hot on that kind of thing now? It wasn’t like the old days when one could be sure of being waved on (despite mounting verges) as soon as the officers saw one’s dog collar.
So this evening he had elected to plod along on foot. He had taken his dog collar off and was wearing a rather worn checked shirt in browns and blues. He had on a pair of the custard-coloured cords so beloved of country gentlemen, from the bottom of which protruded a pair of dirty running shoes (in case of attack). He clasped a Waitrose bag in his fist which contained a bottle of cheap white wine. It’s not that he didn’t like wine, it was just that he didn’t like Miss Rowe.
In fact he despised everyone in Popwell – with their lax ways and their personal hygeine issues. And some of them actually had humps, which was a sure sign of having been touched by the devil. But most of all he hated them because he was tired of them all. Tired of chivvying them to come to church, tired of answering their unimaginative questions on why a good God would let bad things happen to babies and tired of the greedy way they sucked at the communion wine and slavered their mouths all over the cup. He had become a vicar to spread the Word but suspected that all he was spreading was oral herpes.
And despite making his disdain clear, they kept on inviting him for drinks and dinners. And when there, they would use him as some kind of free social worker. Why wouldn’t they just leave him alone? If only he could think faster on his feet he would have been able to find a reason to say no to tonight. But that Lally Rowe had spat her invitation out like a stream of verbal abuse and he had quailed before her, unable to tell her the truth; that he would rather stick needles in his eyes.
And so he trudged on and as he neared the village they began to wave at him from their cars and gardens. He flapped half-heartedly back and his heart grew heavy. And then he saw Aubrey Sinclair, wearing a lemon yellow cashmere jumper with nothing underneath, a spotted silk cravat and navy blue sailor-cut jeans that were so tight across the buttocks one could actually make out the hairs on his arse. And he was flouncing out of Prat’s Cottage in the direction of Ms Rowe’s with a bottle of something fizzy brandished aloft. Oh dear God, thought the Revd Wattle, why hast Thou forsaken me?