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Kevin Wood
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@KevinStphnWood
7:00 AM 30th July 2021
fiction

Diary of a Sociopathic Vicar – Part 36

The phrase, “I’ve heard so much about you” should never pass a vicar’s lips. Equally, “I’m so glad to finally meet you” should be on the banned list. Indeed, any such greeting that implies knowledge of a person through another is a serious tactical error. The entire purpose of such nonsense is the attempt to establish a false sense of intimacy. Unfortunately, the victim will see such glib phrases for what they are - a lazy alternative to developing a genuine knowledge of the person. The grammar could be improved, too.

Because of this, when a lady knocked on my door and told me that she was the wife of Al – president of the local chapter of Hells Angels who had a secret identity playing keyboards with a defunct heavy metal band and who now, through a quirk of fate was stand-in organist/pianist at church - I invited her in. She entered, her young daughter holding her hand.

“Abigail,” I called to my housekeeper, “I have guests.”
Abigail bustled out of the kitchen, saw my guests, and stopped dead. A remarkable occurrence.

“Abby?” asked the lady I had just admitted to the Vicarage.

“Hello, Danni,” replied Abigail, “Well, it’s been a few years.”

“How do you know each other?” I enquired.

“Oh, sorry,” said Danni. “I used to sing in a girl band. We were called “Nothing Good” – you’ll have heard of us, whether you wanted to or not.”

Indeed, I had. It had been one of those typical manufactured bands – four girls singing and dancing. They’d been quite big for a few years, then disappeared. A couple did solo albums, or appeared in charity concerts, there were occasional rumours of them getting back together. Rather standard for that kind of band, and it explained Danni’s popstar-on-downtime appearance.
Danni continued, “Well, on our first world tour, Abby took care of our wardrobe.”

From the pictures I could recall, this would not have been a full-time job.

“Yes, now you tell me about this young lady beside you,” said Abigail.

“This is Mary. Say “Hello”, Mary.”

“Hello”, said Mary hiding behind Danni’s leg.

“Would you like to help me bake some cakes?” asked Abigail, bending down to Mary’s height.

With a little reluctance, Mary permitted herself to be taken to the kitchen, while I led Danni through to my study. Abigail in charge of the wardrobe for a girl band? This seemed strange to say the least. Questions about her time before moving to Sutley were answered in vague terms, but you would have thought this would get mentioned.
I decided to take a chance. “Wasn’t there something about a death on that tour? I seem to recall a 30 second slot on the news.”

“Three deaths,” said Danni. “If it hadn’t been for Abby looking after us, I don’t know how we would have coped. There just seemed to be accident after accident.”

“She’s a marvel, isn’t she?” I agreed, quite sincerely. Three accidental deaths – it was Abigail’s standard approach to housekeeping. “Anyway, what can I do for you? Is this something to do with Al?”

She nodded, twice. “How much do you know about Al?”
“President of the local chapter of Hells Angels, and formerly the keyboard player of the heavy metal band Uranium Death Cult, where he performed under the pseudonym Uranium-235. The latter being something he keeps very quiet.”

I knew a fair bit more than that. Porker, another of the Hells Angels had set out a “trail of breadcrumbs” to lead to Al’s former life. If you have the right details, it’s remarkable how much you can find out about someone with Google. The trick is getting the right details, which I’d only had for the past few days.

“I’m impressed,” said Danni.

“Don’t be. I only worked it out after he played the piano at Sunday’s service. Now I realise there was enough clues I should have seen it earlier.”

“Do you know why he left Uranium Death Cult?”

“No. I’ve seen speculation that it was about the band’s failure to break into the American market, but I suspect that’s just fan gossip. And, of course, I know the bass player left around the same time.”

“Oh, that was unrelated.”

“Really?”

“Yeah - Tim went to play with the boy band “Rich Uncle”.”

“That’s a bit of a change, isn’t it?”

“Uranium Death Cult’s fan base was largely male, late teens to early twenties. Rich Uncle’s fan base had the same age range, but they were almost exclusively female. He reckoned the choice was a no-brainer.”

“Indeed. So, tell me about you and Al.”

“We met backstage at a music festival, and I kicked him in the… in the…” She paused a moment, looking embarrassed, before concluding, “between the legs.”

This type of conversational misstep happens with vicars quite frequently. People remember they’re talking to a vicar, and believe they need to modify their vocabulary. It is a wonder to me that people think clergy will be offended by a word like “genitalia”.

“What happened after that?” I asked.

“The short version is that he wrote a song for me called “Shove!”, and Nothing Good recorded it. It spent weeks at number one.”

I raised my eyebrows. It had been on the radio earlier that day. Al had written that?

“Anyway,” Danni continued, “His record company didn’t like him writing for another record company, and it all got nasty. He quit professional music and these days he barely plays at all.”

“Until Sunday.”

“Yes. And he’s been all over the place since then. Happy, angry, depressed. The short version of the story misses out a lot of the nastiness that happened, and it was nasty, even for the music industry.”

“What do you think he needs?”

She shifted her position on the sofa and adjusted her hoodie.

“Al really respects you, you know,” she said.

“Really?” I will admit I was a little surprised. It never occurs to me to wonder whether or not people respect me.

“Yeah – he says it’s because you don’t tell him what to do but let him work it out for himself. You know, like if something’s right or wrong.”

“People don’t need a vicar to tell them if they’re doing something wrong,” I said. “They already know. They might try and fool themselves, or make excuses, but they know.”

“What about psychos?”

Being a sociopath myself, I have a fair understanding of the various antisocial personality disorders, but I didn’t want to get too involved in this.

“You can’t summarise a subject like this in a sound bite,” I said.

“OK, so if people know right from wrong, why do you need a vicar?”

“Many reasons. To provide alternatives, to show that there is a different way, to get them out of a trap. To be there.”

She nodded. “I think Al needs to get playing again. It defines him.”

“I will be honest – I desperately need an organist. But is playing a school piano to a bunch of geriatrics the best thing for him?”

“It’s a start. Give me the hymns for Sunday, and I’ll get him to play.”

“And if he doesn’t want to?”

“Then I’ll just kick him between the legs again.”

I gave her the hymn list, grateful that my fiancée Mabel was more subtle in her persuasive strategies.

I watched Danni and Mary get into a Mini Cooper - Mary clutching some freshly baked buns for Daddy - and said, “I didn’t know you used to do wardrobe for bands.”

Abigail snorted. “Wasn’t much of a job. Four girls, 20 changes of clothes, and you could fit the whole lot in a suitcase. That’s why I only did one tour.”

As always with Abigail, believable, yet unbelievable.

Then it was Souper Saturday again, which meant setting up the church’s soup kitchen at the market. It was looking like it would be a good day for selling soup. The weather was fine, and a coach load of tourists had stopped to see the quaint – in places - market town of Sutley on their way to Musdon.

I was just clearing a table when a gentleman came up and said, “Excuse me?”

I engaged my professional smile and asked what I could do for him. I had our menu and prices memorised, and we had a couple of free tables.

“I’m from the town council. Food hygiene. I’d like to inspect your operation.”

Disclaimer: Rev. David Wilson is woefully incorrect concerning the language that it is appropriate to use in front of a vicar. Not only should he not be using language such as “genitalia” (even if it is Latin), but in the rare event that such parts of the anatomy must be mentioned, they should be described as “the most humble parts of the body”.