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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Traditional school carol service

Things got off to a bad start
During the procession
Down the nave isle
Of the old medieval church.

The Head Teacher
Dropped dead.

Because he was dressed
As Father Christmas,
And had a pair of plastic
Reindeer horns
Sellotaped to his zimmer frame,
Everyone thought
He was messing about.

But it was a real
And gigantic
Heart attack,
Brought on
By the intolerable stress
Of the previous night's
Governors' meeting
And the challenging fit
Of his bright red trousers.

The Vicar,
Fully vested
As the Sugarplum Fairy
(He was an Anglo-Catholic),
Surveyed the untimely sacrifice
And insisted
That the show should go on:
That is what Jesus would have wanted.

So the rapidly cooling body
Of the Head Teacher
Was discreetly removed
To a chest deepfreeze
In the vestry,
And the procession continued.

What happened next
Was harder to explain.

The vicar was turned into stone.

This was achieved
By a petrifying force
Of considerable potency
Emanating from the direction
Of the Lady Chapel.

When an Anglo-Catholic vicar,
Dressed as the Sugarplum Fairy,
Is turned into stone,
In the middle of a procession
Down the nave isle
Of a Christmas carol service church
With a packed congregation,
And the organ roaring,
The effect is not inconsiderable.

As in life, so in death:
He could not be shifted.

Elephant chains were procured,
Royal Engineers' lifting gear
Was deployed,
But the stone statue
Of the vicar
Was unmoved and unmoving.

So the procession
Had to squeeze past him
As if nothing
Had happened.

You can still see
The stone statue there today.

Sir Nikolas Pevsner
Describes it as
An eccentric piece,
Well-executed in the
Arts-and-Crafts fashion,
Displaying
Skilfully rendered drapery,
But unfortunately located.

The procession reached the sanctuary
Without further difficulty,
Except that one of Hannibal's elephants
Was sick on the communion rail
And his trunk fell off.

Worse things happened
During the Second Punic War.

The church now
Subsided into respectful silence
For the solo singing
Of the first verse of
Once in Royal David's City.

The familiar words
Piped out into
The candlelit church:

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In an egg box, not a bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Donald Duck her little child.



.................................


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