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Epic Tales of Lower Haversack
by Roger Pattison

The vicar had given the church roof another good looking at, and decided that a prayer would be its best option. He’d thought of serialising the conversation and submitting as a script for Eastenders; such was its ongoing nature. But the situation had deteriorated, the church having lately acquired a novel airiness that he put down to the roof now being a sea of rubble around his knees. The soaring buttresses were doing their soaring for no good reason that he could see.


It had not gone completely astray, his prayer. The roof had fallen neatly around the vicar and not even dealt him a scratch.


The vicar supposed that the rest of the prayer he might put into a deposit account.

“Help,” heaved a pile of horsehair and lime plaster, apologetically. The vicar looked about him.

“It’s me.” The vicar was horrified by how much the grammar of horsehair and lime had deteriorated.

“You mean, ‘It is I’, he corrected.

“No; it’s definitely me” said the muffled verger from under a few feet of debris.

“Is that you, Percy?” It dawned on the vicar that Percy’s own prayer might have been subject to some procedural delay.

“It is at the moment, vicar; but I do seem to be suffocating in horsehair.”

“One moment, Percy, I’ll pray for a builder.” The vicar put his hands together.

“Couldn’t you just ring for one?” choked Percy.

“Come, come, Percy, where’s your faith?” the vicar tutted.

“Well, at the moment it’s buried under this rubble, vicar.” A rumble from above caused the vicar to look up; “whereas yours isn’t; yet.”

So it was that the rather nattily-titled ‘Society for the Lower Haversack Fund in Aid of the Church Roof Restoration’ was inaugurated. An acronym was devised but SOLOHFACRR tended not to roll off the tongue and sounded just a little bit rude even when it did so roll. Therefore ‘Church Roof Fund’ was adopted as being less risqué in that expurgated version.

“Can we gauge how the Fund is progressing, to date?” The vicar stood at the head of the pine table around which the fund raising committee sat, musing on its many knots. The treasurer pulled the tin cash box towards him, which rattled in a rather desultory way. They were an ordinary bunch; excepting the verger, whose visible parts were swathed in bandages. He was clearly in the running for a bit part in ‘The Mummy’. “Over to you, Cyril.”

That Cyril was not happy with centre stage was plain to see, and his profile gradually lowered until it appeared that he’d dug a hole for himself.

“Would we prefer that in terms of a percentage of the target figure, vicar?” bleated a subterranean goat.

“Just tell us how much we have in the fund, Cyril, thank you.” The vicar beamed a smile around. Cyril opened the box and forlornly stared over its edge.

“It would appear to amount to two trouser buttons, several peanuts and a paperclip.”

“Is that inclusive of the whist drive proceeds?”

“They were the peanuts” said Cyril sheepishly.

“Well, my immediate thought is to hope that the gentleman who gave his trouser buttons didn’t need the paperclip to hold them up.”