It was the thirtieth day of lent, and John Granger was wishing he’d been more defensive of his charity bake sale.
Had he been more assertive at that initial PCC meeting, they would all have been outside the pub last Friday, selling home made cakes, biscuits and brownies, wearing comical Red Noses and being generally merry. Heck, Robert may even have brought some beer along.
But no. Here he was, on a Tuesday morning, about to whip himself with a Cat-O-Nine tails thirty times. All because he didn’t want to be difficult.
But he wasn’t complaining. He’d been doing it for over a month now, he’s wasn’t going to give up ten days from the end of Lent.
Besides, it was exactly a year from the first lockdown, and at least he wasn’t whipping himself for every person who’d died in the UK since then.
He probably wouldn’t be able to function if he was.
What also kept him going was the fact that, hopefully, the Hangman’s Noose will open at the end of May and he’ll be back in his natural habitat; behind the bar.
Having done the day’s whipping, had a shower, and had breakfast, John spoke to his daughter over Zoom.
In normal times, now would be the time Adele visited Lower Strangling over Easter, helping in the pub and the Botanic Garden. But this year she was coming at the end of April, so he decided to call her now anyway.
“How’s the whipping going?” Adele asked cheerfully.
“It’s alright. A little bit painful.” John replied. “But we’re coming close to end now.”
“Good. Make sure you never do it again.” Adele said.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure I won’t.” John responded.
“To be honest, it makes me think I was right to become Pagan.” Adele said.
“Well, Christianity isn’t all about flogging,” John commented
“Yeah, but still.” Adele responded.
“Whatever,” John said.
“How was the Spring Equinox gathering?” John asked, reminded of the event Adele attended on Hampstead Heath with her vegan Pagan friends.
“It was good. Charles and Susannah played the Spring God and Goddess and we had several egg based activities, and then we watched the sunset over London.” Adele replied.
“Sounds nice, John mused.
“Yeah, we also had a vegan barbecue at Alistair’s place, which was nice.” Adele replied.
“Ah, yes. Alistair,” John said. Remembering having an awkward conversation with the thirty something with his man bun, neatly trimmed beard, slim frame glasses, red checked shirt, skinny jeans, and converses
“We’re considering moving to Cornwall, so we can watch the tide on the beach.” Adele said.
“Interesting,” John said.
“You should come to one of our gatherings the next time you’re in London.” Adele suggested.
“Hmm. I dunno. I don’t think they’d like my carnivorous Christian ways.” John replied.
“Come on, they’re really welcoming. Mum and Hubert have attended, and they love them.” Adele replied.
“Well in that case, maybe I’ll give them a try.” John said, deciding that if the gathering liked the would-be Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol East who was basically the real life version of Jerry from Rick and Morty then they’ll probably like him too.
Even if he and Alistair didn’t get off on the right foot previously.
“Great. You won’t regret it,” Adele said,
“No. I’m sure I won’t.” John replied.
After a while, Grant Corbelings, Adele’s illusive boyfriend who John had only ever seen on Zoom last Christmas, joined the conversation. Yet again wearing the same suit and thick framed glasses that he had at Christmas.
“Hi, Grant. How’s things at Goldman Sachs?” John asked.
“Oh, it’s going well. You know, doing what bankers do.” Grant replied in his soft Edinburgh lilt.
“Did you enjoy the Spring Equinox?” John asked.
“It was good, yeah.” Grant said. “We watched the sunset.”
“As Adele was telling me,” John said.
“Dad’s interested in attending a gathering.” Adele told Grant.
“Really?” Grant asked.
“Yes. I hope I’ll be able to meet you there.” John said.
“Oh, I don’t think that will be possible.” Adele said.
“Why not?” John asked.
“Because he’s so busy at Goldman Sachs. He’s not likely to attend the gathering.” Adele explained.
“Oh, that’s a shame.” John said.
“Yeah, but that’s the way it is,” Adele said.
“Hmm,” John responded.
After a brief chat, John bade goodbye to Adele and Grant and turned of his laptop.
He got ready to go for a walk, once again wondering whether the only reason Adele was dating Grant was because Alistair was gay.
Still, he thought, at least she wasn’t dating vegan millitant Reginald Carbstrong.
“We have to tell him the truth at some point,” vegan militant Reginald Carbstrond told his girlfriend Adele Granger after he’d taken off his disguise.
“We can’t. He’d kill me.” Adele said.
“How do you know? I think he seems fine.” Reginald said.
“You’ve not heard him talk about you.” Adele said.
“Should I?” Reginald asked.
Adele sighed. “Let’s just go for a walk.”
“Fine,” Reginald replied.
And with that, Adele and Reginald got ready and went for a walk along the Heath.