The priest of the parish of Blue Velvet, Reverend Alan Peart, 51, was chairing an extraordinary PCC meeting after one of the churchwardens had been found guilty of murder a week ago and just been sentenced the previous day. The work of the church obviously had to go on, and although some people had made a few off the cuff comments to the press already, the meeting was to co-ordinate some sort of collective response and to look ahead.
"He just wasn't the person we thought he was," the vicar said. "We now know she must have covered up for him, but to kill a cold caller at the front door with his spanner was truly shocking. But look, his wife will come back to us and we should show her every generosity. To some extent, she was fortunate he did not turn on her."
"What a bastard," said one in attendance, Mr Edward Conder, 55.
The other churchwarden, Mr Geoffrey Brown, 70, said, "He did go on and on and on about junk mail, cold calling telephone calls, email spam, and people knocking on the door just to sell things. He was utterly fed up with the junk of life, and even recycling was junk that should never have existed in the first place."
The priest said, "Yes, but it's hardly the reason to open your front door and hit a caller over the head with your hefty variable spanner, just because you were mending your bicycle at the time and were distracted."
"Just a bastard," said the man again.
"You are - were - his neighbour," he said to Mr Conder. "How is Mrs Finch?"
"I haven't seen her yet. What a bastard."
"Feelings are going to run high; lots of people with lots of strong reactions - like you Ted - and this is where we have to watch ourselves."
"He's still a bastard."
A lay reader, Dr. Colin Towns, 72, said, "We might also have to watch our language."
Mr Conder insisted: "He's a right bastard because time and time again over the years I went round to his back door and asked if I could borrow a spanner and every time he said he hadn't got one."
"Well," said the priest, "I think we've exhausted that subject for now. Send the press to me if necessary. OK, something more pleasant now - Back to Church Sunday. For example, Mrs Ward, hello Mrs Ward, your daughter Janice Capron used to come to this church and now we never see her. There are all sorts of people who we need to invite back."
"It was her birthday last week," said Mrs Janet Ward, 62.
"Oh?" asked the priest. "Did you get her a present, perhaps something to remind them of coming to church?"
"No, sorry vicar. Peter and I bought her a medium length bath towel."
"Why?" asked Dr. Towns.
"To use after a bath," said Mr Jonathan Pantry, 50.
"Yes I know that. It doesn't seem much of a present," said Dr. Towns.
"Can we get on?" asked Miss Ida Cartwright, 81.
"It was to improve their relationship," said Mrs Ward.
"Hey? Do say more," said Dr. Towns.
There were some groans.
"Well you know that we lost the doctor's surgery."
"We need to campaign about that as a PCC: we need a surgery," said Mr Pantry.
"So Eugene, her husband, went to the vet about their difficulties and he said he doubted he would be much use but suggested that on a hot day with cattle they flap a towel and this helps the cow relax."
"I have to say," added Dr. Towns, "that for once this is an interesting PCC meeting. Go on, I'm intrigued. Is this something we can all do?"
"This is hardly relevant," said Miss Ida Cartwright. "But how come a towel?"
"I think this might be more of a confidential, pastoral matter," said Reverend Peart.
"No it's not, because they asked the milkman to help them with the towel. And that towel didn't work when the milkman flapped it for them."
"Well, is it relevant to this meeting?" asked Reverend Peart.
"They might come back to church if they are a happy couple," said Dr. Towns.
Mrs Ward continued: "Janice felt no better from it. There was no pleasure from the milkman stood above them cooling them down."
"So you bought them a bigger one," said Dr. Towns.
"A bit smaller, actually, and it worked."
"It made her cooler still?" asked Dr. Towns.
"Well, last week they went back to the vet who then talked about virility in healthy, fitter cattle. And the milkman walks loads every day, in and out of his van. So when they got the towel we bought them the milkman swapped roles with her husband, and Eugene flapped the towel, and she said it was wonderful."
"How humiliating for Mr Capron," said Dr. Towns.
"No no. He because he was able to say to the milkman, 'Now that's how you flap a towel,' though I think really it's because we bought them a better towel. So my daughter is much happier."
"Vicar," said Miss Ida Cartwright, "Did I see some new towels on your own washing line?"
"Sales of towels in the town this week have never been higher," said Mrs Jennie camp, 48, a local shopkeeper.
"I really think we must continue and get on with the agenda," said Reverend Peart. "It's nine o'clock already and I would like to be doing other things."
So the meeting continued for another thirty minutes, and Dr. Towns left looking quite bored again.
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