Brownies, blues and a celebration

It’s been a funny sort of day. I went to bed early because I was really tired, and the first time I woke up in the night (I wake up during the course of most hours of the night at the moment, which is probably the reason I’m tired) it dawned on me that, as it has been so cold this week, I probably should have turned on the church heating for this morning. I decided to go in at 8 o’clock so that at least the radiators would be hot and people would think it was warm in there.

In the event, it was a mild day but extremely wet. I actually drove the 200 yards to church. Yes, I know. But it was absolutely tipping down and, even with an umbrella, my trousers would have been soaked. I’d had to change once this morning, and that was just going from the car to the newspaper shop.

There were only 8 of us in church, including 2 ministers, the organist, the organist’s wife, the sidesman, the churchwarden and the person reading the lesson (the churchwarden read the second); so that left one person there because she chose to be. Afterwards, I went home and made brownies.

There was to be an ordination in one of the churches this afternoon; that is, Reg was to become a fully fledged Ordained Local Minister (that’s a real priest, only unpaid and licenced to work in the benefice he lives in) and so the Bishop was visiting again. Afterwards, there would be tea. My contribution to the feast was to be the brownies.

I decided to make two batches, so that the Sage and Ro would know I cared. I had just enough chocolate and butter and dark brown sugar, but not enough self raising flour. Plenty of plain, so I could add baking powder. It was only after I took them out of the oven and thought they didn’t look right that I realised I’d forgotten the baking powder. I tasted a bit. It seemed fine. Pfft. I’d take them anyway. While I was in the drawing room reading the papers, Ro came in. “What’s with the brownies?” he asked. I said I’d made an extra batch and explained the mishap – “They’re fine” he said. “You took one?” “I could tell they weren’t counted.” “16 in each batch. You took one from the round dish?” “Yes” “That’s all right then – mind you, I’d just have given blame where it was due.”

The service was fine – lovely, actually, but I was shocked, when talking to a friend I hadn’t seen for a few years, to piece together bits of a family tragedy that she evidently thought I knew about. Afterwards, I asked someone else, and it transpired that about 3 years ago, their eldest grandson killed himself at the age of 17. I only saw that boy once, when he was a cheerful platinum-haired toddler and you can well imagine how I feel for him and his family, and I didn’t know so never said anything to them and now I can only do so if I write and maybe bring it up afresh.

Afterwards, the tea went fine, and all my brownies were eaten. Towards the end, I was talking to another churchwarden, who I had noticed earlier looked pale and drawn. I asked how she was, and (it was a day when people assumed I knew what they were talking about) she said that she still felt pretty rough and she was glad that at least the funeral wouldn’t be at her church, and kept talking in that vein. Again, it seemed better to make the right noises and not actually ask – it turned out that her ex-husband had been found dead at his home, having died in his bathroom no-one quite knew how many days before. They had been married for 33 years and divorced for 5 – I rather gathered that she had finally left him because his behaviour had become impossible to live with, and since then his drinking had only got worse and worse. I said that, after such a long marriage, she would still be his widow and grieve for him, but that she would not get the sympathy and support due to a widow – she said that this was how she felt, but I wondered if I’d been too outspoken?

Afterwards, I congratulated Reg. I am so glad for him. His wife was desperately ill in the first year of his training and he had to extend it while he looked after her, but she has made a good recovery and now looks healthy and happy and very proud. I kissed him and told him we were proud of him, and he looked pleased and kissed me.

Oh, and this morning, with only 5 in the congregation, I felt obliged to sing hymns loudly. I usually spare people the sound of my voice, but I know how disconcerting it is for the organist to not be able to hear anyone, and if someone sings it encourages other people, so I sang my little heart out. Actually, all that breathing out made me feel a bit faint, so I had to take my coat off and get too chilly to faint. I could feel the heat of the radiator, but not quite enough to go without a coat.

15 comments on “Brownies, blues and a celebration

  1. Z

    Blimey, Simon, I only posted that a few minutes ago (I know it says 8.17 but that was when I started writing it).

    Sarcastic bugger you are sometimes. xx

  2. Z

    5 minutes before the service was due to start, there was only the two ministers, the sidesman and me. We thought we were doing rather well to get a congregation (and an organist) at all – I’d been thinking I’d have to play, sing and read both lessons, leaving the sidesman to be the congregation. Not that it would have mattered. We’d have done it with aplomb.

  3. Eddie 2-Sox

    Mind you, from the statistics you just provided, apart from people who work at/volunteer at churches, that means just 100,000 people go to church each week.

    Seems a lot of effort to put in for such a tiny target audience?

  4. Z

    Well yes, but the ones who volunteer or make the church their vocation are the most committed ones, aren’t they? I’m part of the congregation even when I’m the organist, reading the lessons, being sidesman or on coffee rota, or occasionally all four.

    Barry, you encourage me. Thank you.

    HDWK & Dave – I felt sad for her too.

  5. Can Bass 1

    Excellent, excellent dear lady. Do you know, I was reading a post about a wedding earlier on where they had NO HYMNS! And the reason? People wouldn’t know how to sing them! I ask you! (We should be able to teach them a tune or two between us, don’t you think? Did I ever tell you I think you have the most attractive eye?)

  6. Z

    Thank you. You are too charming.

    Too often, at funerals, I have to play All Things Bright and Beautiful because it was the cloth-eared deceased’s favourite hymn. When the family chooses to play an introductory or valedictory CD it’s interesting. I’ve had Bat out of Hell, My Way and assorted ditties by Robbie Williams and Westlife.

    The hymn I’ve chosen for my funeral is Father Hear the Prayer we Offer, but I was always something of a Puritan.

  7. martina

    My grandfather had to sing “Alice Blue Gown” at a funeral years ago.We thought that was rather an odd choice of song. I’d have Amazing Grace played and the CD recording of Israel Kamakawiwole (sp?) singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

  8. Dave

    I am doing my best not to feel sad that my hymn about love (featured on the blog last Easter) which many ordinary church members have asked permission to use at weddings and funerals, hasn’t been chosen by my daughter for her wedding in four weeks time.


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