I was sure Saturday evening’s expedition to Toffdom’s Rural Headquarters, the Hunt Ball, was going to spoon feed me material for my next blog post. Surely it would be chock-a-block with eccentrics and their accompanying outlandish behavior, which I’ve grown to know and love in my year in the Cotswolds. I was wrong. The most outrageous thing I witnessed all night was a drunken nineteen year old who sucked face with her paramour on the dance floor for three consecutive songs. As husband is fond of saying, youth are so boring. We were home in bed by 1:30AM.
Well rested and hangover free, we made it to church the next morning for the first time this year. We were greeted by the usual suspects, six elderly ladies and one fifty-something man who surely attends in part out of civic duty to the golden girls of his village. The upside of a measly church population is everyone gets a job. Jean says Mattins, the lady who drives her Nissan Micra like a bat out of hell for the one block between her cottage and the church reads the Old Testament verse, the lady with the Danish accent the New Testament, the gent takes the offering and rings the bells, and Dorothy, in her orange pea coat, recites the Collect. This last one is my favourite. Dorothy’s prayer reads like an uber letter to Santa Claus, her requests ranging from a pony (“good health for the Queen”) to a trip to the moon (“peace on earth in our time, Lord”). I say this not to poke fun at her earnest and child-like approach, but rather in humble admiration of a person who has managed to retain these qualities after eighty years.
I on the other hand am totally godless. That’s the only way I can explain why Jean’s Lenten sermon made me think of the saga of our local Chinese takeaway, Dynasty. Jean was preaching about when Jesus had to prepare the disciples for the fact he was going to die. They responded with the textbook five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — not unlike my fellow villagers and I when faced with the recent shuttering of Dynasty. But then, last Thursday night, we had a bit of an early Easter miracle here in the Cotswolds. Husband, playing the unlikely herald, burst through the backdoor of the cottage asking if I wanted to hear some “fantastic news.” He was so jubilant I was sure that Inspector Closseau, his workplace nemesis, had been fired. But no, he brought good tidings that that the Dynasty woks are firing once again like a phoenix risen from the ashes. Just like that, Kung Pao Chicken Friday nights are back! I suspect Jean would fail to appreciate my loose interpretation of Easter theology, but it is nearly spring and I’ll take my themes of rebirth and renewal where I can find them.