11 Nov

vicar photo: Vicar Captured2004-3-1900002.jpg

Roamy Miller was a cheery fellow with loads of good advice and wise words. He knew people like no other knew people and what he knew wasn’t always as light and cheery as his outward personality might suggest. And it was sometimes muttered darkly by some that he had an agenda.

Saying he had an agenda suggested dark motives that could lie behind his cheery words, and sometimes, when the “Dish and Dachshund” was quiet in the mid week some of the regulars would discuss serious stuff, and serious stuff often included the wisdom of Roamy Miller. Let’s listen in. Let’s acquaint ourselves with the gossip that echoed mid-week round the tap room of the “Dish and Dachshund”.

“Old Roamy said,” breathed Tom Bull, “Old Roamy said as there was summat wrong with the vicar. Summat deeply wrong.”

“You mean, he’s ill?” asked Bert Topley. “He’s a right good egg, is the vicar, and I don’t like to think of him being ill!”

“Not ill so much as what he is,” muttered Tom Bull, tapping the side of his nose with a crookedly dirty forefinger.

“And what’s that, Tom Bull” asked the landlord, polishing a glass with an oily rag.

“He just said as there’s summat amiss with the man,” nodded Tom, and not knowing any better he was sowing one of Roamy Miller’s seeds.

Then, next day or maybe the day after that and with the weekend on its way Roamy Miller was seen in the corner shop to pay his paper bill, something he did with wonderful diligence towards the end of every week.

“Has the vicar paid yet?” he asked, “if you don’t mind me asking,” he added.

“That’s for me to know and you not to ask about,” retorted the shop-keeper, who wasn’t too fond of Roamy Miller.

“I can only guess why not,” sighed Roamy Miller, shaking his head sadly. “Poor fellow,” he added, wiping an imaginary tear from the corner of one eye.

Then, come Saturday evening when the lounge bar of the “Dish and Dachshund” was busy with all manner of folks standing in comradely groups and gossiping nineteen to the dozen and Mick Crudgeon stroking Amelia Hemmingway’s bottom in the fond and mistaken belief that no-one could see, Roamy Miller breezed in and ordered drinks all round.

“On me,” he said, winking.

And everyone in the lounge-bar was given a fresh drink and the landlord even took two for himself knowing that nobody was counting.

“Cheers!” the general populace chorused at Roamy Miller, who cheerfully winked back.

“Better not tell the vicar, though,” he grinned.

“Why not?” asked Mick Crudgeon, sipping his lager.

“I’m not saying,” smiled Roamy Miller, and he breezed back out. He’d sown his own seeds and he felt good about it.

And things carried on like that until Christmas hove to on the horizon. By that time Amelia Hemmingway had allowed Mick to make her pregnant and both were delighted. The only trouble with the parish was the way everyone, every single one, looked at the vicar.

“He’s probably gay,” said one, forgetting that the vicarage contained more than a vicar but also a vicar’s wife and four vicar’s children.

“He’s probably a secret drinker,” opined others, even though not one person had ever seen the vicar so much as wobble on his way down the road.

“I heard he was found guilty of theft,” contributed a third, who had heard nothing of the sort but knew something was amiss at the vicarage. He felt it in his water, or so he said.

Then, with December almost half way through and Amelia showing quite a significant bump (it’s got to be twins, was whispered) Roamy Miller announced he was going to be Santa this year seeing as the vicar hadn’t so much as mentioned it yet. The vicar, it seems, dressed up as Santa every year because he loved the fun Christmas can be and thought that Santa was much more likely to be real than a virgin birth, which he dismissed out of hand though never said as much. So traditionally, during part time on Christmas Eve, he toured the village leaving small but delightful gifts for all the children.

And nobody questioned it when Roamy Miller made his announcement. They all knew, in their minds, that the vicar was a bad one and best ignored. Quite a lot of seeds had grown into tall and wayward lies, though nobody knew exactly what he’d done wrong, or when, or why. They just knew that he had.

So Roamy Miller did the rounds that year and most houses lost something to his thieving ways as the happy people danced and sang in the “Dish and Dachshund”, and poured delicious liquids down their throats and rendered “We Saw Three Ships” several notes flat.

But when they arrived back at their homes, laughing and joking and filled with cheer, they discovered their homes had been entered and their Christmas wares stolen.

Roamy Miller was never seen again, and after a great deal of head-scratching the good folks decided that the vicar must be to blame.

© Peter Rogerson 11.11.15


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