Notwithstanding, one of our neighbours, a nice old chap, arrived at my back door two weeks ago with an invitation to the local Church spaghetti supper. “Ah.” Said I “You do realise that Mrs S and I aren’t exactly churchgoing folks?”
“No problem. Terry doesn’t next door, and we haven’t seen your landlady since she got divorced.” He replied without irony. With that said I accepted the invitation and discussed the matter with Mrs S.
“It’s how you get to know the neighbours.” She shrugged, as if this is something I should have known all along.
“Okay, I’m good with that.” I made the tea, there didn’t seem to be much more to add. Besides, Mrs S knows the set of my moral compass, and is quite happy to join in the ridicule.
Last Friday night we were greeted by our neighbours at the Anglican Church hall and ushered to two trestle tables set up in a magnolia painted church hall with four foot square sound deadening panels hanging from the ceiling. At one side a large servery hatch was open, and four people were busily decanting cooked spaghetti into a large catering three sectioned food warmer already full of Bolognese sauce and Garlic bread.
I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and was getting a bit crotchety because I get a bit irritable after 10 hours without food or drink. Especially when I felt Mrs S was shunting me from pillar to post without a chance to get any refreshment. Two steaming mugs of coffee later I was my old self, chatting to the others on my table, Mrs S on my right hand talking to our other new neighbours. I was lucky and got the irreverent faction, headed by an American lady from Carmel, California, who held court at my end of the table. We sang a silly song about spaghetti to the tune of Funiculi, funicula or Aus Italien by Strauss.
The local vicar, a young guy in his late twenties who looked more like some code crunchers I used to know who all had some form of Goatee beard, ‘entertained’ us by murdering a couple of tunes. Then he did a draw based on a pack of cards to see which tables got served first to much heckling and cheering. Our table was fourth I think. We got up and stood in line for a pile of home made linguini and Bolognese with a generous wedge of garlic bread. Good solid tucker which was woofed down by all, even those who had elected for a Caesar salad option.
The vicar and his singing partner then launched into some hymns and I took to watching the people around us, singing and clapping along to some of the more militaristic lyrics, “Onward Christian Soldiers” and the like. Although they did a “Christianised” version of “Lean on me” which was a bit cringe making. Nevertheless, I cast my eyes around and watched the true believers clapping and singing their hearts out. “They really believe don’t they?” Observed my wife. I nodded agreement before turning my attention back to a ribald anecdote about an absent minded millionaire living in California. As the tale teller reached the dénouement of her tale I looked around watching the unguarded devotion in people’s eyes as the vicar and his partner sang ever more loudly (and slightly off-key). Last time I saw the expressions thereon it was hardcore fans at a rock concert. Before that, chanting fans at Villa Park, Birmingham (So I was an Aston Villa supporter once - I’m much better now).
Before now I’d never properly understood what kind of motivation sits behind the eyes of zealots. Friday night was a revelation in that respect.
Friday night also brought new friends into our lives. I was promised an ‘interesting’ Halloween and have decided to join in the fun in my own idiosyncratic way. Could be fun this coming weekend for Samhain.