The Vicar’s Interview

Continues from Chaos at the Lower Strangling Village Hustings.

In the end, Humphrey Ellacott won the Warwick District council Warwick North seat for Labour, mainly due to the parents whose children went to the school his son was a teaching assistant at, and liked him.

But Labour’s win in Warwick North did not make up for the fact that videos taken of the Reverend Simon Abernathy telling a group of Conservative voters that they were going to hell at the Lower Strangling hustings quickly circulated round the internet afterwards, becoming almost as viral as COVID.

So much so that, rather than having his lunch at the vicarage whilst listening to BBC Radio Two, Simon was actually in the studio about to talk to Jeremy Vine about the incident.

“Now then,” Jeremy began as he turned off the song he was playing, “I’m sure we’ve all seen the clip that’s been going around of a village vicar telling a prospective Conservative voter that they were going to hell. Let’s listen to the clip again, some listeners may find this disturbing.”

Simon face palmed himself as he listened to himself quoting Revelation 21 verse 8 at the top of his lungs whilst other people screamed in horror. The clip sounded more horrific than the actual event, sounding more like a terrorist attack than a man loosing his temper.

“Pretty chilling stuff,” Jeremy said as he turned the clip off. “Well, we have the Reverend Simon Abernathy in the studio to talk about the incident. Good morning, vicar.“

“Good morning,” Simon said politely.

“Ok. So the incident happened in Lower Strangling?” Jeremy asked.

“It did yes.”

“Very beautiful part of the world. I’ve visited it many times. It has a very friendly atmosphere, would you say?” Jeremy asked.

“Yes. Please do visit, we are all very nice. Incidents like these are very rare and the crime rate is extremely low.” Simon said.

“Ok. So what was going on, then? Were you stressed? Was the job getting to you, do you think?” Jeremy asked.

“Well, to really understand the situation we have to go back to my time as a new age hippy in the late 70’s early 80’s before I became an ordained minister and served on Lindisfarne.” Simon said. “I was, and still am, very anti torture, war, and nuclear weapons.”

“Interesting,” Jeremy said.

“The people I was shouting at were shouting things like ‘bring back hanging’ and ‘bring back waterboarding’ and that got to me.”

“Ok,” Jeremy replied.

“But the real reason I got angry was because the evening had descended into chaos. I was tried calmly controlling the room but in the end I had to use brute force.” Simon said.

“By telling some people that they were going to hell?” Jeremy asked.

“Yes. I had a lot of things going on in my mind. I didn’t know what I was thinking. It was the first thing that came into my mind.” Simon said.

“Do you have any regrets about what you said? Because that’s not an appropriate thing to say to someone is it, Simon?” Jeremy said.

“Yes. I regretted it as soon as I said it, and regretted it even more when I saw the video circulating round the internet.” Simon said.

“Ok,” Jeremy said. “Now, some people may recognise you from 2019 when you said that any sane person would vote Lib Dem during that election.”

“Yes, and I also regret saying that.” Simon said.

“Lower Strangling is renowned for being centre left rather than hard line Conservative, isn’t it?” Jeremy said. “You yourself are quite clearly left leaning.”

“Indeed.” Simon said. “We usually supported Labour but Jeremy Corbyn brought the party too far to the left for our liking.” Simon said. “Now we strongly support Kier Starmer and the work he’s doing.”

“Ok.” Jeremy said. “Would you say that a Conservative voter is more likely to burn in hell than say, a Labour voter?”

Simon paused for a moment, thinking of an answer.

“No. Everyone is capable of salvation. That is why Jesus died on the cross, for our sins.” Simon said.

“And yet you told a group of Conservative voters that they were going to hell?” Jeremy asked.

“That was completely coincidental,” Simon said. “They were the one’s who were being disruptive and that was the first thing that came into my head. It had nothing at all to do with my religious beliefs.”

“Ok.” Jeremy said before addressing the listeners at home. Simon sighed with relief.

“Earlier on we asked you whether Simon was correct in what he did or not. 75% of you said he was wrong and 25% said he was right.” Jeremy said.

Simon’s chest closed, he really didn’t want to be here.

“Tabitha Smith from Milton Keynes emailed us to say that it was about time that Tory scum were told what would happen if they continued down the road she was currently on,” Jeremy said. “Her opinion not mine.”

Simon looked at his phone as a way to zone out of the situation he was currently in.

“John Williams from Chipping Camden says that it was completely unacceptable behaviour and that political leanings do not make someone bad or good.” Jeremy said.

Simon looked at the door for a moment. Could he go home, yet?

“Jack Western from Dorking said that although he commended Simon’s actions, he says that that would mean a lot of his colleagues in the Church of England would also be facing a similar fate.”

“Actually, most of my colleagues are fine,” Simon said. “I know no one personally who is a child molester or abuser of any type.”

“Ok.” Jeremy said. “Anyway, Dave Peterson from Lower Strangling says that he was there at the hustings and the situation had indeed got out of hand and Simon handled it well and that what he did was a last resort.”

“Thank you, Dave,” Simon said, knowing the Dave would probably be listening in his manor in Lower Strangling, as everyone in the village listened to Radio Two.

Simon ate some crisps as Jeremy put on the Ants song Let Laying Dogs Lie.

After the song was played, listeners from across the country put their questions to Simon, mainly about paedophiles, the dodgy side of the Church of England, and bits of the bible that were clearly designed to catch him out and get under his skin*, which Simon answered as calmly as he could.

Eventually, Simon’s segment on Radio two was over.

“That is it for Simon on the show today. Thank you for coming along.” Jeremy said.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Simon said, hoping that he didn’t sound sarcastic.

“So, is it back home to Lower Strangling for you, then?” Jeremy asked.

“No. It’s the first time I’ve been in London for over a year so I’m going to have a walk round and then I’ll go back to Lower Strangling.” Simon said.

“Ok. Well, which song would you like us to play you out on? Not a hymn obviously.” Jeremy said.

“Uh, California Dreamin’ by The Mamma’s and the Papas which is a song I listen to when I reminisce about my time as a hippy.” Simon said.

“Ok. Well, thank you once again for coming on today. Ladies and gentlemen, Simon Abernathy.” Jeremy said before putting on the song and all the Radio Two listeners in the country suddenly had visions of Vietnam.

Except of course, for Simon, who simply walked out of the studio, thankful that it was finally over.

Stay out of politics, Simon thought to himself as he wandered through Hyde Park, it will only cause trouble.

*Including several about why Jesus wanted the children to come to him, which shocked and offended him, but he answered them in a way which he hoped would take the people asking the questions off guard.

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