Justin here. Whilst the young man with the wire in his ear is of the opinion that many of the ordinary people who attend my weekly surgery are, and I quote, workshy layabouts who only come in for a warm and free biscuits, I remain convinced that I can help spread the good news by offering a non-church environment wherein the confused, the worried and occasionally the head-lice ridden amongst us can seek advice and succour. It is sad but true that the interior of the average church puts people off. They feel inhibited by the architectural splendour – especially in churches like mine, which, let’s face it, is a bit of a humdinger. I had intended calling my surgery, the SPIRITUAL surgery, but my lady wife counselled that if I did, I’d be inundated with deluded people wishing to contact dead aunties.
So, this morning’s session was most interesting. The young man with the wire in his ear has the body search down to no more than 20 seconds now and I have persuaded him not to glare at my visitors. Or snigger. Or intone” ****ing hell!”
My first visitor was most trying. A man of middle years and military bearing, he wore a T shirt emblazoned with “SATP”and in brackets underneath (shoot all the poofters). I was quite prepared to enter into a lively philosophical debate with him, but he made that very difficult by accusing all clergy of being shirtlifters (whatever that might be), then darting hither and thither looking for hidden cameras and microphones. I must admit to being relieved and grateful when the young man with the wire in his ear appeared as if by magic, pressed something in the agitated fellow’s neck and rendered him all of a heap. The young man with the wire in his ear then said, “Gimme five” and dragged the gentleman away. True to his word, in five minutes, he returned. When I asked about the fellow’s whereabouts, the young man with the wire in his ear winked and tapped the side of his nose.
My next encounter was a much more domestic one with an older couple (Reg and Pauline) who were very worried by the Chancellor’s announcement in yesterday’s Budget speech that the purchase of an annuity by pensioners is not now necessary and that henceforth you can do what you jolly well like with your pension payout. Pauline was especially emotional, grasping my hands and sobbing piteously. Off the top of my head I was able to suggest things like donating a significant amount to the charity of their choice, establishing a Food Bank to help the needy, or, more selfishly, taking a guided Betjeman tour of the Home Counties’ wonderful Anglican churches. It was only after they had left that I noticed the absence of my wristwatch, wallet, and a chair. Nevertheless, I do feel that the church must reach out to people beyond the Cathedral’s mighty doors.
I will close this Thought for the Day by saying that I am puzzled and not a little concerned by the Holy Father, the Pope stating that he and the Catholic faith are going to challenge the might of the Mafia. Whilst this does put my own stalled campaign against Wonga in the shade somewhat, I do worry about the possibility of shoot-outs in St Mark’s Square. As the young man said, impishly, “What would Jesus have done?”