Tim Davey He who laughs last...
Once upon a very long time ago I brought shame and disgrace raining down on my parents. We lived in a small village and one Sunday afternoon, along with some fellow juvenile co-conspirators, I rebelled against Sunday school and locked the vicar, a chap with a gammy leg, in the church hall.
He was stuck there for hours and missed evensong, eventually being rescued by a worried churchwarden.
Revenge was swift and we were expelled from future Sunday attendance. It is a tale I have regaled people with before. But the scenario caught up with me, now in grandad mode, last weekend.
It was Sunday. And it was the fifth birthday party of one of my granddaughters. The location was a church hall, an integral part of the bigger church building. Loads of her five-year-old chums, plus mums, dads, grandma and yours truly, turned up to celebrate the occasion, masterminded and overseen by her mum, my daughter.
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The afternoon was a success, with lots of running, jumping, shouting and balloon-popping. Then came time to clean up, clear the room and go. The hall was novel in that it had two main entrances, and, as I say, was encased within the main church building.
So as the clearance was drawing to an end I decided to do what sensible folk do and popped down a flight of stairs to check the kids had not left the tap running in the cloakroom. En route I paused awhile to untie a difficult knot attaching some balloons adorning one of the nearby doors. It was as I made to exit the place that a rather sinking feeling crept over me. Suddenly I realised I was on my own. Calling out to my wife and daughter and our grandchildren produced nothing save an echo. They had gone. They had locked me in – and gone. Worse still, the battery of my mobile phone had expired.
Then, through a window in one of the doors, I spotted them circling my car parked a fair distance away.
What followed was like that closing scene from Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.
I jumped up and down, waved my arms and shouted. It was all to no avail. Outside I could see them preparing to walk away – why my wife or daughter failed to recognise my car I do not know – and I realised how that long-ago vicar felt.
The situation was only redeemed when my eagle-eyed grandson spotted my desperate arm-waving and released me from my unlikely prison.
As I drove home I had cause to reflect that somewhere, now probably way up on high, a reverend fellow sporting a dog collar and walking with a limp was enjoying having the last laugh.