Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 03)
The grotto opened to the first child at 1 pm and there was a pretty constant stream almost non-stop until 4 o’clock.
The new Curate, Rosie, dressed as and Bernard the Elf, escorted the excited or apprehensive child in from the ante chamber, who would then climb up on to Santa’s lap.
Santa would then have a quick chat with them and give them their gift, and then Tom, would take a photo.
Rosie then escorted the happy child back out to their parents and this well-oiled machine kept operating like that for 3 hours and when Rosie escorted the final child back to their waiting parents Tom followed them out.
Tom then hurried to the hall and was greeted by a smiling Patience.
In fact so radiant was her smile that he decided there and then to ask her out.
“Patience I…” he began but the Vicar suddenly appeared and started rummaging through the books and the moment was gone and he lost his nerve.
After losing his nerve at the Christmas Bazaar when the Vicar interrupted him on the verge of asking Patience out, Tom never regained it again.
So they returned to the same pattern as before, they saw a lot of each other but never went to the next level and would probably have remained that way indefinitely had fate not intervened on a late spring morning.
Tom was in the vestry talking to Hemmings Funeral Directors about three impending funerals when the Vicar appeared in the doorway wearing a worried expression, he completed his call and hung up.
“Hello Vicar” he said “Is everything ok?”
“I’m not sure” she replied “Have you heard from Patience today?”
“No I haven’t, why?”
“Well she hasn’t been in to pick up her quota of Parish Magazine’s from the Village Hall” she explained
The first Monday of the month was Parish Magazine delivery day and all the volunteers would pick them up by 10 o’clock.
But by 11.30 everyone had been in bar Patience.
“That’s not like her” he said
“No it’s not” the Vicar agreed “I’ve tried ringing but her mobile is just going to voice mail”
On hearing that Tom offered his services in her stead.
“I’ll do her round” he said “And I’ll call in to the farm and make sure she’s ok”
“That would be great Tom” she said with real relief in her voice “Thank you”
It wasn’t how he planned to spend his day but he didn’t mind and being out and about in the fresh air on such a lovely day was not a chore and it would put his mind at rest.
Patience Rudd’s “patch” was on the Kettlewell side of the village and consisted of about 25 dwellings dotted along Kettlewell Lane and Finchtop Way, it was about a two hour round trip at an average pace
But he was in a rush to check up on Patience so even though it was a warm pleasant day he set off at pace with the bag slung across his shoulder.