The sun was shining on the picturesque Warwickshire village of Lower Strangling. Usually at this time of year the village was teeming with tourists, but today not even the residents were out and about. This was due to the British government issuing a lockdown on the entire country following an outbreak of a deadly disease caused by
the pesky Chinese bats.
Because of this, tourists were banned from visiting the village and the residents were confined to their (admittedly very large) houses, and could only go out to exercise, get food, or clap the NHS1.
Today, however, was different, because today was VE day. Yes, the 75th anniversary of the
British allied forces finally defeating fascism in Europe before it manifested itself into Nigel Farage in 1964 forever, never to be seen again.
At 3PM- precisely 75 years after Winston Churchill gave his speech to the nation from 10 Downing Street- the residents of Lower Strangling arranged themselves around the war memorial outside St Gerald the Damned2, ready for the VE day memorial service.
As the church bell chimed three, the Rev. Simon Abernathy, his cassock glowing in the mid afternoon sun, walked out of the church and over to the war memorial. He cleared his throat, ready to begin the service.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the end of the Second World War, the day that finally brought about the end of fascism in Europe”, said Simon.
“It didn’t last long, though, did it? I mean, Nigel Farage was only born 19 years later and he’s as fascist as they come”, chimed in Robert Sherman, the local brewer.
“Urm, excuse me, Robert Sherman, I would prefer it if you didn’t bring your political opinion into this memorial service”, replied Simon, slightly agitated.
“Well, it’s true.”, Robert responded.
The brewer and the vicar proceeded to talk part in a mini argument before they were broken up by Dave Peterson, technician for Banana. Simon then resumed the service, hoping Robert wouldn’t say anything else. “We also remember the Lower Stranglians who gave their lives during the 1939-45 conflict, as well as the villagers who stayed behind under the leadership of Tomas Saville, 81st official vicar of St Gerald the Dammed3“.
“It’s funny really, 75 years after we claimed victory against the Germans we’re now at war with the Chinese”, Robert remarked. Simon heard this, and seethed with rage.
“Robert Sherman, that is most unacceptable! The coronavirus was not caused by China! It just started there,” the reverend exclaimed.
“You seem oddly defensive of the People’s Republic of China, reverend. Are you sure you’re not a communist spy?”, Robert asked.
The other villagers gasped at Robert’s accusation. Dave face palmed himself, things were going from bad to worse.
“I beg your pardon?!”, shouted Simon.
“Robert, I think you need to calm down”, said John, the local publican and Robert’s best friend.
“No, John, this isn’t the time to calm down”, said Robert, before stepping forward towards the vicar. The villagers gasped again. “
You’ve just breached the social distancing regulations!”, Simon cried out.
“I don’t care!”, Robert proclaimed, just as he stopped just a few inches in front of Simon.
The village gasped in shock horror once more as Robert placed his hand into Simon’s cassock pocket.
“What the hell are you doing? Get off me!”, uttered Simon as Robert pulled out something from his pocket and showed it to the other villagers; a small, red, book.
“Just as I suspected, Mao’s Little Red Book, he is a communist spy!”, Robert called out to the masses.
“For goodness sake, I am not a communist!”, said Simon, “that’s the note book I write my sermons in!”
“That’s what a communist spy would want me to think”, bellowed Robert.
“Open up the book if you don’t believe me.”, said Simon.
“Very well.”, Robert responded. Robert opened up the book and read it. The other villagers waited with baited breath for what was inside the book, but all Robert could see was Simon’s handwriting sprawling out onto lined paper.
“Oh, sorry, false alarm, my bad. As you were”, said Robert, as he walked back to his original spot. After a few moments, Simon resumed the service.
But, to make matters worse, the police arrived.
“Oh for goodness sake.”, said Simon as a Warwickshire Police car drove into the village and parked outside the church.
Out of the car came none other than Stuart Kennedy, chief constable of Warwickshire Police, and Harvey Nicholls, deputy chief constable. Harvey and Stuart walked into the church yard and towards the villagers.
“What’s going on here, then?”, asked Stuart.
“We’re having our VE day memorial service, like we do every year”, Simon replied, “we are standing two metres apart, by the way. I made sure of it.”
“Yes, I suppose you are.” said Stuart, before walking closer to the group. The villagers looked at Stuart, worried; what was he going to do? But, instead of place their hands in handcuffs, Stuart muttered, “mind if we join you? There isn’t much going on at the moment so we have quite a lot of free time.”
The villagers sighed with relief, they weren’t going to be detained. “Yes, I suppose we could accommodate you into our group.”, Simon answered.
“Thank you”, Stuart and Harvey responded in unison.
And so, the villagers rearranged themselves so that Stuart and Harvey could join them whilst still obeying the social distancing regulations. Simon gave both the constables an order of service, and returned to his usual place. “
And so, let’s sing our first hymn.” announced Simon.
So together, the villagers and the two constables sang a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, and the VE day memorial service continued without a hitch.
1A British institution none of them had ever used because they could all afford private healthcare, but they did it anyway purely for the thrill of making a sound by bringing their hands together.
2Standing on marker points laid out by Simon Abernathy which he ensured were exactly 2m apart from each other, of course.
3Tomas is the 81st official vicar due to the fact that legend states the original church was set up by Joseph of Arimathea who was visiting the area with Jesus during the 30 years of his life that weren’t in the bible, if this is to be believed, then Joseph was the first vicar, making Tomas the 82nd. This theory is backed up by the fact that when St Augustine visited the settlement that would become Lower Strangling in 597AD to convert the locals to Christianity he discovered his journey had been wasted as they had already been converted approx. 572 years earlier. The worst part was that the pub wasn’t built until 873 years later so he couldn’t even have a pint.