Other than the Vicar, he wanted also to tell George and Beryl privately – as close friends, neighbours and members of the congregation. It was George who had introduced him to the church in the first place. He also needed to decide whether to tell them first, prior to meeting the vicar – perhaps asking them to come to his home for coffee and a cake.
Before he spoke to either George or the Vicar, he needed to marshal his thoughts carefully. He sat down at his dining table with a pen and a pad of paper.
Sunday 3rd April At the Wilson’s
On Sunday evening Steve had been the first to arrive – he only lived five doors away – and had helped George to re-arrange furniture ready for the arrival of the others. Mike and Helen Pearce were still in Spain, and Tony had gone out to dinner with a lady friend. Cathy arrived next with Geoff and Mary Heath whom she had brought in her car
The women gathered in Beryl’s kitchen, wine glasses in hand, to see what help was needed. There wasn’t really much for them to do but, after many years, it had become a custom in the kitchen of whoever was hosting. Tonight, it gave them a chance to talk about Tony and his date. They were all delighted to see that he was happy again in this new relationship. George, Steve and Geoff also sat, glasses in hand, in the conservatory talking about gardening.
As everyone took their seats around the dining table, they fell easily into a man-woman-man pattern. The married couples sat together, with Beryl and George sitting nearest the kitchen. Cathy and Steve sat together. As the food was being brought in, George began an anecdote about the morning’s church service. One of the elderly women parishioners – known to most of the group – had fainted after prayers as she rose for a hymn to be sung. It wasn’t the first time either – for her or for some of the other older ladies.
Cathy turned to Steve.
“That wasn’t very kind of God was it?” she asked him “Or was it Satan do you think?”
“My money would be on a sudden fall in blood pressure,” he suggested.
“I always find it amazing,” she taunted him, “that, whenever something good happens to you Christians, it’s always, ‘Isn’t God good?’ He never seems to get the blame when bad things happen.”
“Come on you two, play nicely,” Geoff said.
“That suits me,” said Steve, relieved to be excused so easily
“I’m sorry Steve,” she told him, “that wasn’t nice of me, and I shouldn’t have chosen poor Miss Thompson as a subject of what was meant to be friendly banter. I hope that you aren’t offended.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Miss Thompson was fine. The paramedics got there quickly, and she was as right as rain after they got her sorted. She was sorry that she’d caused worry to so many people. As for your argument about things that God should be blamed or praised for,” he continued, “it‘s true that there are too many God-botherers, Christian fundamentalists, the kind of people who still see God as some kind of cosmic magician. People like that do give the rest of us a bad name. They’re a bit like Richard Dawkins, who gives science a bad name.”
“Touché,” she agreed.
The moment had passed over much more easily than Steve had begun to fear. At one time he’d have seen Cathy’s taunt as a challenge that must not be avoided. Given his current state of mind though, he needed to avoid that kind of argument at all costs. Mentally, he added, he did not want to row with Cathy anyway. He liked and respected her. She was a good friend and an intelligent person whom he wished could respect him too.
Thankfully, the conversation moved on without a glitch.
Geoff was asking the group what they thought about planning an outing for the Tuesday evening dancers to Blackpool or Skipton. Neither place would be too far away for a day out on a coach. Both places were used to catering for coach parties.
At Blackpool there were hotels with ballroom floors, where the management would be prepared to let the group organise an afternoon dance if the group purchased their lunch in the hotel restaurant. Those who had already booked holidays elsewhere were happy with the idea, but wanted it to be diarised around their personal plans. It was agreed that Geoff should approach some hotels and find out about costs and available dates before mentioning the idea to the wider dance group. It wasn’t the first day out that the group had organised, and earlier ones to places such as Llandudno, had been a great success.
Cathy invited everyone to join her for the next evening meal at her house. She would let Mike and Helen know.
As he made his way home, Steve decided that he needed to make two phone calls on Monday after work.
The photograph at the start of today’s post is in monochrome but, as Steve is realising, not everything is black and white – not even what he has previously heard from the pulpit.
The story today takes place in a dining room, as does my featured image. Items on a dining room sideboard are reflected in a large mirror – the truth of even such a simple scene has two sides to it.
EXIF data were: I took this shot with my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera using a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. 1/250 secs @ f/4.5 and 53 mm, ISO was 800.