THE VICAR OF BUMBLETON

30 May

THE VICAR OF BUMBLETON

cartoon vicar photo: cartoon vicar 7871554-funny-hand-painted-priest-on-white-background--illustration_zpscaa86877.jpg

The youngest son of Lord Pipsqueak of Bumbleton, Daniel, knew he would become a man of the cloth when he was grown up because that’s what youngest sons did. They went to learn about the Good Book, got drunk quite a few times with other youngest sons in alehouses frequented by spotty ladies of the night, and were finally offered a living once a fascinating range of sexually transmitted diseases had been cleared up, and that living was usually not far from the family home where Father could keep a watchful eye on their antics. Then, so far as he could tell, the more interesting part of their lives would be over. Oh, they weren’t dead but they might as well be.

Daniel Pipsqueak, though, did not want that life.

He wanted to travel. He wanted to visit far shores and romance with dusky maidens until he was drained by their embraces, and then romance some more. He wanted to LIVE, and his idea of living had precious little to do with crusty church services, prayers to a deity that appeared to live in cloud cuckoo land and weddings of inappropriate smelly people to equally inappropriate smelly people.

But there was no way out.

He thought of absconding, but that didn’t appeal because, once out there amidst the fields and forests he’d be homeless and, even more important, would have no idea where his next meal was coming from. And that didn’t appeal at all. He needed sustenance more than most because, well, he’d already developed a corporation to be proud of and he was still short of being twenty.

He might, he thought, court the daughter of a rich man, but rich men with daughters kept a weather eye on them for perfectly practical reasons, and he barely saw any. Daughters of rich men were reserved for eldest sons, those with an inheritance worth the meaning of the word, and he was a youngest son.

In addition, his libido was being sadly neglected.

When he’d been sixteen he’d meddled with the pasty cook’s under-maid, a pretty enough young thing with magnificent breasts and sweet breath, but she’d rapidly absorbed the best he had to offer, become pregnant and been shown the door by his angry father who accused her of trying to climb onto the social ladder by seducing an innocent young boy, and had her name truly blackened when she suggested the only seduction had been by that same innocent young boy. So she’d taken her bump away with her, and died in a ditch in Penury, which was a few miles down the road from Bumbleton.

A similar story had emerged when he was seventeen and studying his letters, the girl who swept the University corridors being the recipient of copious quantities of his over-active semen and becoming similarly pregnant. She was to die in childbirth in a room above the alehouse with the local wise woman as midwife, which made the story go away, but he supposed that in a way he’d loved her. At least she hadn’t been either smelly or spotty and had a really charming little bottom she didn’t mind his pinching, and he actually wept when he passed the field in which she was buried, obviously in unconsecrated ground, in a pauper’s grave.

According to his personal prediction he was offered a living at Bumbleton Church when the present incumbent sadly and accidentally stabbed himself whilst conducting an exorcism in the dark at Randyborough Hall at the invitation of the lady of the house who said her ghost preferred a lights-out scenario. That lady was famed throughout the county for her little peccadilloes, and as chance would have it her husband had returned unexpectedly from the wars in mid-exorcism, so to speak, and had died painfully of blood poisoning a week later.

So Andrew became vicar of Bumbleton, and quite miserable about it until he discovered that, if he was careful, he might have quite a jolly time with communion wine and, shall we say, a selection of parishioners (of either sex – he wasn’t that choosy) who enjoyed a free drink and were a little careless with their underclothes.

For several years he was careful.

He’d learned his lesson, after all, with maidens who made the mistake of becoming pregnant and his new source of personal pleasure was unlikely to do that, being largely widows who would be considered past it in any age, or choir boys who weren’t.

But he’d forgotten the rumour machine. After all, he was the vicar and consequently considered to be God’s representative in the parish. And if there’s one thing he knew that particular deity disapproved of it was the things he got up to with those of his flock willing to let him get up to them, and as rumour spread as rumour does he was scared that his father might hear it.

Which, of course, happened.

My boy,” said his father, “I’m afraid I must disinherit you.”

A cold shiver went down Daniel’s spine when he heard those words.

But why, father?” he blurted out, knowing what was coming yet unable to stop himself asking.

I have heard Rumour,” was all his father could bring himself to say.

But father – you know what rumour is!” he squeaked.

It’s the truth by any other name,” nodded his father awkwardly yet wisely,”and rumour’s truth suggests that you’ve done the unforgivable. So I disinherit you. Now get out of my sight, and as soon as you can get out of my church. In fact, get out of Bumbleton. You are no longer my son, and I will set the dogs on you in five minutes flat!”

And that’s exactly what he had to be seen to do.

Next day a new vicar arrived, a sprightly young man with a pile of luggage so enormous it looked as if he might be staying for a life-time.

Then, rather than sloping off miserably and in abject shame, “Do you mind if I hang around?” smirked Daniel.

What for?” asked the new man, surprised, because he, too, had heard Rumour.

You’ll find out,” grinned Daniel. “I know a thing or two, you know.”

And he did find out.

Which gave him an awkward limp three times a week, but never on a Sunday, when the Lady of Randyborough Hall called to worship.

 © Peter Rogerson 30.05.14

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5 Responses to “THE VICAR OF BUMBLETON”

  1. pambrittain May 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Goodness, Peter. I always get a kick when I find out where your mind has traveled..

  2. Peter Rogerson May 31, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    A little bluebird with a sore bottom … my heart aches for you…

    • pambrittain June 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

      I’ll heal as long as no one gets the frying pan out.

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