It was the last day in January, and the Rev. Simon Abernathy once again entered the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Strangling for the annual Guy Fawkes Memorial service; a service that was held more so that the pianist had an excuse to play Elton John’s Song For Guy than that they particularly sympathised with the man.
Despite being Anglican through and through, Simon felt it was his duty as the vicar of the Parish of Lower and Middle Strangling to check in on the other churches in the area. Besides, he kind of liked Elton John.
The church was empty apart from about ten people spread in the pews, like it usually did. The Guy Fawkes Memorial Service was a lesser known service attended only by those who were fiercely loyal to the church or just fancied listening to Song For Guy.
Simon sat in one pew, about a metre away from a dour faced man.
“Morning, Reverend.” The dour faced man said to Simon.
“Morning, Wilfred.” Simon said.
“How’s your year been?” Wilfred said.
“Do you mean last year or starting from January 1st?” Simon said.
“Obviously I mean last year.” Wilfred said before adding under his breath, “starting from January 1st, honestly.”
“Oh, well, I suppose it was fine. I mean, there were some issues along the way which I’m sure many people could relate to, but otherwise, it was fine.” Simon said. “Overall, much better than 2020, but I believe 2022 will be even better.”
“Interesting.” Wilfred said.
“How was your year?” Simon said.
“Fairly decent.” Wilfred said. “Nothing particularly great happened, but also nothing particularly bad happened.”
“I suppose that is something you should be grateful for, given the circumstances.” Simon said.
“Indeed.” Wilfred said.
The two men then sat in silence, waiting for the service to begin.
After a while, the priest of the church stood at the front of the church, greeting the congregation of 15.
“We are here today to remember the life of Guy Fawkes, a man loyal to his faith to end, which resulted in his execution 416 years ago today.” The Preist said.
Simon looked around the room. No one seemed happy, but then again, why would they be?
“Guy Fawkes should be an inspiration for us all. Maybe we should follow his lead and do more for the religion we all supposedly hold so dear.” The Priest continued.
Simon’s eyes widened. He then leaned closer to Wilfred.
“He’s not advocating terrorism and treason, is he?”
“Maybe, maybe not.” Wilfred said.
“I assumed this service was just an excuse to play Song For Guy. I didn’t think you actually agreed with the man.” Simon said.
“Perhaps we agree with him, or perhaps we don’t.” Wilfred said.
Realising he would get nothing other than cryptic messages from Wilfred, Simon sighed and continued to listen to the Priest.
After a while, it was time for the moment people (especially Simon) were waiting for; the five-minute silence.
Simon sat contentedly as he listened to the pianist play Song For Guy on the piano.
He looked around the room and wondered what the other people were thinking. Were they remembering Guy Fawkes? Were they praying? Or they simply wondering whether they left the oven on?
After a while, Song For Guy stopped… and Candle In the Wind began, rewritten for Guy Fawkes, obviously.
Finally, the service had ended, and Simon left the church.
“Thank you so much for coming, Reverend.” The priest said to Simon.
“No problem. I’m always happy to see what other churches and denominations in the area are doing.” Simon said.
“One day, I will attempt to attend one of your church services.” The Priest said.
“Looking forward to it.” Simon said.
“Is the statue of the Virgin Mary still in the Lower Strangling Botanic Garden?” The priest asked.
“It is, yes.” Simon said. “You can have it if you’d like.”
“No, no. It’s better where it is.” The priest said.
Simon did not respond.
“Well, I better be getting back.” Simon said. “I’ll see you next year if I don’t see you before then.”
“Sure. Goodbye, God bless.” The priest said.
“And to you.” Simon then left the churchyard.
“Well,” Simon thought to himself as he drove back to Lower Strangling, “here’s to the next year.”