“Wild Man leaves Wales for love.” announced billboards across Neath on Saturday
when Alison and Howie married in the Register Office.
They regarded it as a merely civil ceremony, however, and will sleep with a
sword between them until the Church sanctifies the union in the Oxford University
Church on November 6th.
A SMILE ON THE FACE OF THE VOLCANO
Nine thirty is a little early in the morning for Jean to concentrate on a sermon
these days but certain words can still trigger a response: “change,” in close proximity
to “painful” for example and “modernise”, “openness”, and the implication that the
Holy Spirit has sent a direct message to the clergy to throw out the pews, modernise
the liturgy and pep up the hymn tunes.
The Brands have been through this so many times and in the past have tried to
have the right positive attitude and then watched congregations dwindle rather than
“If we aren’t prepared to change, the church won’t be here in ten years’ time,”
the vicar exclaimed and looking round at the pews full of walking sticks and hearing
aids Jean could see he had a point. Being reasonable was not uppermost on her mind,
however. She was, after all, sitting next to Storming Norman, a man capable of considerable
She daren’t look sideways to see if the steam were rising. Could she write him
a note threatening to make him watch all her taped Virginians if he started heckling?
‘Don’t interrupt,’ she willed. ‘Don’t demonstrate,’ and then, pulpitwards, ‘Don’t
provoke him any more.’ On the edge of social disaster she sat, muscles tensed, breathing
hard, until finally the vicar gathered his notes together. Fearfully she turned
“Oh dear,” he said mildly, finding his place in the prayer book.