My wife and I are off to a Christening in Hampshire as my wife has been asked to be God Mother. Strangely, the parents were not remotely interested in God until they had children, now you cant get them out of the church. They are desperate to get their kids into a good school and as such, have to evidence excellent attendance on Sundays, and a repentant demeanour. The Church was a tiny brick and flint affair, sweetly nestling amongst tumbled down overgrown gravestones. I glanced at one of the barely legible headstones and apparently Lt.Col. Daruius Jones has been missing in Acton since July 1942, poor old Darius, Acton is dire.
I knew we were in trouble when we sat in our pews and the vicar came out wearing a hessian robe, with at least three metres of tugboat rope wound about his waist. Hanging from his neck was an almost life-size wooden crucifix and his hair was shaved up at the sides. In the corner was a three-piece ensemble armed with a guitar, bongo drum and a tambourine. Now chacun a son gout, but I like my religion traditionally delivered starting with a strong sermon from the pulpit followed by some well known sing-along hymns drowned out by an overzealous organist – this was not that. Accompanied by ‘The band’ we stumbled our way through bland modern hymns. With lyrics like; ‘We love God he is great, he loves us just you wait’ etc. As I thought it could get no worse, the vicar, Mike, explained that a member of the congregation, Tarquin, was to perform a Christian birthday dance to celebrate the event. At this, Tarquin jumped into view. He was wearing bright yellow dungarees, red slippers and an even bigger crucifix than Mike. His wrists were festooned with bits of brightly coloured string. He stood poised, head bowed, feet apart, his arms out straight and crossed in front of him with outstretched fingers wiggling in anticipation. Without warning the bongo sprang into life and Tarquin exploded into a frantic, uncoordinated, un-rhythmical, frenzied dance. He was all over the place, leaping, crouching, running on the spot, violently shaking his head and waiving his arms about wildly. I thought perhaps he had accidently rubbed deep heat on his haemorrhoids. No one in the congregation dared look at each other for the ensuing five-minutes for fear of bursting out laughing. With one final ‘bang’ of the tambourine, Tarquin collapsed on floor exhausted. To this day I have never seen anything like it, and have no wish to see it repeated.