Snippets of Downshire Life – Eastertide – Palm Sunday
The Finchbottom Vale nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, and to the east 15 miles inland from Sharpington-By-Sea, equidistant between the seaside resort and Pepperstock Green was the rambling village of Brookley and at its heart was St Mildred’s Church.
The villager’s spiritual needs were met by its vicar Rev Cecil Payne who lived at the adjacent vicarage with his wife Lily and their six unmarried daughters, Chrissie, Daniela, Hazel, Heather, Katie and Elise.
Cecil and Lily loved their children very much but as they reached the time in their lives when they were nearing their sixties and they had expectations for their daughters.
For Lily her hopes involved the grandchildren that were not forthcoming whereas Cecil just wanted them to spread their wings, but as Easter loomed, there was no sign of either of them getting their wish, but the power of prayer was a wonderful thing and both parents prayed for their daughters.
The eldest of whom was 32-year-old Chrissie and the only reason she was unattached was that the object of her affections was the Curate, Graham Parker, and he was painfully shy and was seemingly blind to her advances or more likely unable to act on his feelings.
But with Easter looming large she was determined to snag her man before Holy Week, she just didn’t know exactly how.
But then on Palm Sunday she got some divine inspiration during the service when a supplicant stumbled in church and Graham reached out an arm and prevented her from falling and then helped her to her pew.
However, her first emotion was not one of inspiration, it was a feeling of overwhelming ill will towards the congregant and intense jealousy because her man had his arm around the stupid clumsy woman.
But then after a brief prayer for forgiveness for her lapse of decorum in Gods house an idea began to germinate and by the end of the service it was fully formed.
When the service was over it was Chrissie’s job to return the hymn books to the shelf on the back of the pew, pick up the hassock’s in preparation for the cleaners and to collect any discarded personal items and take them to the vestry.
Graham’s role as Curate meant that he would be outside the church with the vicar, talking with parishioners, after which he would himself go to the vestry to secure the church valuables to the safe.
It was in the vestry where Chrissie intended to put her plan into effect.
After finishing her work, she loitered about in the shadows until the congregation had finally dispersed before she emerged but her strategy almost failed before it began when her father called from the door
“Come along Christine, lunch is waiting”
“Ok Dad I’m nearly done, you go on ahead and I’ll catch you up” she replied
“Alright” he responded and after listening to his footsteps recede she proceeded to the vestry to find her quarry.
She was suddenly very excited and almost broke into a run with her red hair flowing behind her, she just hoped he would still be there when she reached the vestry.
Chrissie stopped outside the door and took a deep breath before she opened it.
As she pushed the door open she was relieved when she caught sight of him and he was stood by the closet putting his coat on
“Hi Graham, still here?” she said and he instantly blushed and looked at the floor.
Chrissie smiled because she had seen him standing in the pulpit and hold the attention of the entire congregation but in her presence, he could barely string a sentence together.
He buttoned his coat and without looking up he walked towards the door which was the very moment she made her move and she timed it to perfection.
Just as he passed her she pretended to stumble and just as he had with the congregant at the service he reached out an arm and caught her just as she had hoped he would.
Chrissie was a few inches taller than Graham even in flat shoes so she made her move and quickly got the better of him and using his own weight against him deposited him on the nearest chair and quickly parked herself on his lap where she proceeded to kiss him, and as she had been so desperate to taste his lips she thought it might have been an anti-climax, and when at first he went rigid she feared the worst but he gradually relaxed and when she let him come up for air she said
“You see that wasn’t so bad”
And he clearly agreed because he kissed her, and that was the long-awaited kiss she had imagined and when it was over she added
“And it’s even better when you join in”
That Palm Sunday may have marked the end of his shyness but the long-awaited kiss in the vestry was the beginning of a love that lasted into their golden years.