Justin here. As I type, Old Father Thames, our usually benign gateway to the World is demonstrating to certain stretches of the Home Counties exactly how feeble we mere mortals are when Mother Nature rears her watery head.
The HOME Counties!! I mean, the sort of thing we’re reading about and seeing on our televisions usually takes place in faraway places of which we know little. Like Wales or the North East. But now – now the water is lapping over the well-heeled doorsteps of the Home Counties! I mean, we’re all very sorry for the poor souls who choose to live on the Somerset Levels, but they do seem to have quite a lot of canoes down there. And tractors.
But here, in the Home Counties, such outlandishly yeoman-like modes of transport are rare. So yesterday, after much arguing and pleading, yes pleading – I persuaded the young man with the wire in his ear to accompany me, in his four-wheel drive vehicle, to the hitherto peaceful village of Ottery St Hilda – a picture postcard piece of English perfection so recently inundated by Thames water - eagerly seeking the weak and vulnerable, there to offer what comfort I could. We did not fare well. First, local police would not allow us to enter the village, even after I told them who I was. The officer in question said, “Yes sir, they all say that.” Then, when the young man with the wire in his ear intervened and showed his badge of authority, despite the howling wind, I’m sure I heard the same officer say, “Look, James Bond, sod off and take the old geezer with you!"
This affront stirred the young man with the wire in his ear into action and from the rear of his vehicle he deployed a small rubber craft which he inflated via some sort of pump arrangement connected to the engine of his car. I was touched to see written on what appeared to be the stern of this vessel, “Archie Aid – Spiritual Succour” I was then given a short plastic oar, urged to hop aboard, and along with the young man with the wire in his ear, rowed strongly for what we took to be the local community centre. Sadly, our voyage was short. The jerk caused by our little craft still being connected to the inflation device cast us both into the water. Worse, as the recalcitrant policeman waded to our rescue – laughing, I have to say – the young man with the wire in his ear’s side arm, a small black automatic pistol, spilled from his jacket into the water.
So I am writing this from a relatively comfortable cell somewhere in England. The young man with the wire in his ear was taken away some time ago by two large, stern looking fellows whilst I wait for the arrival of a solicitor whose services I am apparently entitled to.
Naturally, in the face of adversity, I ask myself, “What would Jesus have done?”