Friday, 30 July 2021

In an English Country ... Church


I was in Northern England a few days ago. Driving through the countryside visiting various small towns and villages, and enjoying this green and pleasant land. As I took a turning in the narrow winding road I noticed a lone church in a field. I had some time to spare, so I decided to stop the car and go inside.

SIDELINE NOTE: When I worked in London I often spent my lunch-times visiting various churches. I used to sit there in an empty church and pray and thank God for what I've got. Apart from the famous St Paul's Cathedral there are many churches in the City nearby and it was quite a respite from the busy business life to be there alone for a while.

Back to Northern England. I parked the car and entered the church. It was empty. I sat there for fifteen minutes or so, right at the front. Then people began to come in. In groups of two, or three, or more, and sit here and there everywhere. They were all dressed in black.

I decided to leave my pew at the front and moved to one in the corner on the right side of the church. It was obvious I was attending a funeral. The coffin was brought in and the service started. I decided, out of courtesy, to stay on.

Some people in a pew to my left kept looking at me and whispering. I ignored them. At one point they were consulting their cell-phones, which I thought was an insult to the dead person. Unless they were following the service on their phones, or the dead person had invented some App of some sort. You never know these days.

After the service was over and everyone left, the people on my left approached me. 

"You're Don Williams, the American Country singer, aren't you?" said one of them.

"Hein?" I muttered rather confused.

"Yes, you are him," said a young lady, "we tried to look you up on Google. But there's a bad wifi reception in this church. You are Don Williams. You know ... You're My Best Friend ... Lay Down Beside Me ... Love Me Tonight ..."

I had to disabuse them of their misapprehension quickly before this got out of hand. I put on my best London Cockney accent, like Dick Van Dyke in the film Mary Poppins. 

"Now look 'ere ma mate," I said, "For beginning, I ain't gonna lay down wi'you and love ya. Me wife would skin me alive, she would. I promise ya straight up, I ain't Don Bleeding Williams, whoever he might be. If I were 'im like, would ay be talkin to ya like that?"

My accent seems to have convinced them, although they insisted in taking photos with me, there in church, and asked me to sign my autograph. I signed Walter Mitty. I wonder if they understood the ironic connection.

After they left I got out of the church. There in the lovely green surrounding the church were many people gathering with lots of animals. I did not know what was going on. The funeral people had gone and the place turned into the second coming of Noah and his famous arc, although there was no boat, yacht or speedboat to be seen.

There were people with dogs, cats, some had sheep, a cow and a donkey, as well as smaller animals like Guinea pigs, hamsters, a tortoise, rabbits and birds like a parrot in a cage and I also remember seeing a canary in a cage.

"What is going on?" I asked a woman holding a fury creature, "why all these animals and why have you got a hamster?"

"It's a gerbil," she said, "we've come here for the annual blessing of animals. The vicar will do it, like St Francis of Assisi used to!"   

SECOND SIDELINE NOTE: I don't know the difference between a hamster and a gerbil, nor do I care to find out. I did not know St Francis blessed animals. What did they pay him for this service? A KFC meal, or a bacon sandwich, I wonder?

Back to the blessing. The vicar came out and people lined up one by one for the blessings. I wish I'd brought my alligator with me.

An elderly woman was holding in her hand a little white mouse. As she stepped forward, the mouse jumped out of her hand and ran away in the long grass. They'll never find him if he gets into the bushes, I thought.

THIRD SIDELINE NOTE: How do you think? Do you think in words? Like "they'll never find him if he gets into the bushes"? Or do you think in images? Like visualising the mouse running into the bushes and people searching for him?

Anyway, the mouse ran away. A cat escaped its owner and chased him. Caught him. And then ran up a tree with the mouse in its mouth screaming its life out. 

There was shock everywhere, and a hidden smile from me trying to control a guffaw of laughter. 

I wonder if the vicar ever blessed an animal within an animal! 

On the same day, I attended a funeral of someone I did not know, got mistaken for an American country singer, and saw tragedy masquerading as comedy ... or was it the other way round?


  1. ...thanks for the chuckle.

  2. Now that's quite the eventful day, Victor! And to think one would find so much excitement at a quiet, country church. :)

    1. Indeed Martha. Little did I realise what was in store for me.

      God bless you and yours.

  3. I only got to view the English countryside from Spithead to London on a train, but I do want more. Maybe I would stop at one of those churches. I have never been mistaken for anyone famous (Maybe a crook or two!). I think in words and leave the images to dream.
    Isn't it too late to bless and animal in an animal? Just wondering.
    I am not sure about the local Catholic Church here at the Belmont Abbey, but the rest are locked tight nowadays except for services. We have crooks who steal electronics and stuff and sell them for food (but mostly drugs) SAD! In my youth churches were open 24/7.
    Sherry & jack further west on this side.

    1. It is the devil's greatest moment when we close and lock our churches. Here too, Jack, our churches are locked when there are no services or Masses on. Including Catholic churches. Our church has been broken into. Now we have security lights and cameras. Can you imagine? Security lights, alarms and cameras in the house of God?

      When I worked in London the churches were opened. I worked in the City financial centre. I visited many churches and spent lunch-times there, alone, praying.

      Yes, it is sad that we close our churches when not so long ago they were open 24/7.

      I thought it funny, the vicar trying to bless an animal when it had just been eaten by another. Thankfully, he did not do that, but tried to console the old woman who lost her pet.

      O like bizarre comedy. The thoughts, mostly in words, come to me from nowhere at any time. Often I have to stop and scribble them down on paper before I forget them.

      God bless you and Sherry always.

  4. Walter Mitty?! 🤣
    I've never witnessed a blessing of the animals. Oncem however, during a Unity Sunday service they began passing around (new) teddy bears for everyone to hug and bless -- before they were given to patients at Children's Hospital. Sweet gesture, no?

    1. I've never heard of blessing toys. I suppose they do that. Our church does collect various toys at Christmas, (new ones), to donate to poor families. I guess the priest does bless them. I'll have to ask him.

      Blessing of animals does happen in some country churches.

      God bless you always, Mevely.

  5. That is a beautiful church.
    You describing the blessing of the animals reminds me of a episode of The Vicar of Dibley. Did you ever see that show?

  6. What a day!

    When Youngest Son was still in elementary school at the local parish church they had a Blessing of the Animals. The cats were none to pleased to get put into their cages for the ride up to the school. We were instructed to leave the caged animals there while the priest said a quick blessing, then the cats went back into the car for the ride home.

    1. In this case, only the birds were caged. Good fun I thought.

      God bless, Kathy.

  7. I was once mistaken for Olivia Newton John. I sometimes think folks see what they want to see. I lived in Hendersonville, Tennessee (right outside of Nashville) where many of the country music people lived. Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, Roy Orbison and many others. Conway Twītty’s daughter was my babysitter long ago. But I digress, it is strange to be mistaken for someone famous. I think it was the feather on my headband that did it. Blessings.

    1. Yes, it is strange to be mistaken for someone else. I have never been mistaken for being myself. I guess no one knows me ... or cares.

      God bless you, Nells.

  8. Dearest Victor,
    That is hilarious for being mistaken for a famous person!
    Those animals that all had come with their owners for receiving a blessing was quite tricky.

    1. Also, I cannot sing at all, Mariette. Not like Don Williams.

      It is common in some country churches here to have blessings of animals.

      God bless always.

  9. I think in words. The visionary part comes in my dreams.
    I've never heard of the animal blessings before, I think it's nice that children and adults can bring their pets to be blessed.

    1. It's an old tradition over here. Carried out in some churches and small communities.

      God bless, River.

  10. If i ended up in a church, sitting and praying, and a funeral started, i agree i would want to stay out of respect to the deceased and the grieving family.

    Our church is locked, too, but if you push the call button during office hours, someone will let you in so can come in and sit and pray a while.

    Every year at Mardi Gras time, we have a parade called the Krewe of Mutts, and they parade right past our church. One of the pastors always stands out there and offers to bless the animals, both those in the parade and those with the spectators, if their owners want. It's a way to show our church cares about the community (and we have a lot of animal lovers at our church).

    1. It's good that your church practices animal blessings too, Mimi. And it's a good idea to have a call button for someone to let you in. We can't do that because the priest is always on call visiting people; and we have no volunteers to be in church.

      God bless.



God bless you.