Being abused, dog sitting, bashing doors down with sledgehammers – all in the name of being a priest
Parish life is full of little dramas. A few weeks ago I got a call to go and look after a parishioner's dog for a couple of hours because he was lonely. Happy to oblige madam.
This week things took a darkly comic turn here in North Wembley. To set the scene, our church is on an estate that is a conservation area. The houses are 1950s classics with beautiful front doors and windows.
One afternoon someone knocked on my door to say they were worried about our churchwarden David. He lives just over from the church and the person knocking had noticed that his front door had been open for two hours.
The caller had taken a quick look inside and closed the door and parked the problem with me.
What on earth to do?
I popped over, knocked on the door and there was no answer. I rang David's number but again no reply.
I decided to ring the police. Within a few minutes there were two patrol cars and five officers. A crowd began to form outside the house.
At this point a local person decided to come up and berate the police for being useless and a waste of time. I probably should have let discretion get the better part of valour. But I joined in the robust discussion. An incident was developing. Eventually the agent provocateur decided to go home with a cheery, 'You're a •••••• priest, what the hell do you know about anything?'
We got hold of David's daughter. She was on holiday in Ibiza. No-one had a spare key. What if David was gasping for breath upstairs or needed medical attention?
And so I gave permission for the police to sledgehammer my warden's very beautiful door. Not just beautiful, but part of a conservation area and freshly decorated and refurbished. His pride and joy.
Oh my word, what a horrible noise a door makes when splintering. The crowd gave a sharp intake of breath. The police sprinted in and rushed upstairs.
A short while later a bus pulled up and there was my lovely warden ambling across the green complete with carrier bags. He had been shopping in Westfield.
This is the first time I have had a churchwarden's door sledgehammered. I hope it will be the last.
This Sunday he was at church as normal handing out the hymn books.
'I'm sorry I put you to so much trouble,' he said.
It was no trouble at all sir. In fact I think I took a sledgehammer to crack a nut.