27 Sep 2010

Hestia.....and Church

Sonshine was up and about suspiciously quietly yesterday morning.  Sneaking downstairs without coming in for his Sunday morning cuddle and the usual stream of consciousness drivel that is 'conversation' to a 10 year old boy.

Thankful for the long-lie, I luxuriated in bed, fighting a nagging feeling that I Should Be Doing Something.  But no matter how deeply I dredged the sleepy Hestia RAM, nothing was coming up.  I assumed that I had dreamed it all and dozed happily.

Eventually, I no longer resist the flood of sunshine pouring through my bedroom windows (note: CLOSED bedroom windows) and I casually got my dressing gown and slippers.  I wafted through to the computer and caught up with a couple of e-mails. 

Half way through an e-mail the Something That I Should Be Doing surfaced from the morass of my mind.

Sonshine was singing in the Harvest Festival at church.  In an hour. 

I raced downstairs and told him to get upstairs immediately. I could tell by his defeated face that he'd been praying that I had forgotten all about it.

Shit - he also needed to go in his school uniform and there were no dry trousers. I whipped his suit trousers off the hanger (bought for wedding last October) and watched with mounting dread as he fought to fasten them around his skinny waist.

'I'm too fat,' he pronounced, as I tugged his trousers off frantically. 'You're not fat - you've just grown since last year,'I muttered.

I took a look at the damp trousers draped over the clothes-horse - maybe if I ironed them for then next half hour they might not give him pneumonia if he wore them to church? I quickly abandoned that idea as I realised the Social Suicide there would be if he stood up and there was a wet patch on his pew.

Surely there must be an old pair of school trews in his wardrobe? I started tossing clothing around, mindful of the fact that he was standing in the bathroom in just his socks and knickers and that the clock was ticking down towards 10.30 am when we were both supposed to be at church.

BOTH OF US!!!  At church.  In less than an hour!  Fuckety fuck -I had forgotten that I'd need to be there too and I was still in my jammies ....what the hell was I going to wear?  Also might I puff into a pile of dust as soon as I crossed the threshold of the Church? I decided to take off the pentacle necklace and hope that God was in a particularly forgiving mood.

Found trousers that fitted him in the waist, but were a bit Michael Jackson in the leg.  Sonshine looked at me balefully.  'They'll just have to do,' I shrugged.

At least I had a shirt ironed for him and by 10.10, he was looking pristine (if a little drafty round the ankles) and ready to go. I on the other hand was experiencing Wardrobe meltdown.

I didn't have enough time to shower AND eat.  So I showered.  I yanked out a massively creased, but quite smart looking top and a lovely Monsoon skirt.  I was going to look OK! Huzzah! I pulled up the skirt and sucked in my tummy and puullllled .....the button was NEVER going to reach the button loop.  My skirt had turned traitor on me and shrunk.  Or I'd expanded since I last wore it. Probably the latter.

Off came the skirt and into the knicker drawer I dived.  I emerged a short time later with a huge pair of black control knickers.  On they went.  Up slipped the skirt and YES, the button reached the loop!!!  Sure, at the front of the skirt I looked like I had some kind of protruding hernia, but I was DRESSED.

Sonshine stood downstairs in the hall, calling up like some pissed-off baby bird....10 minutes until we needed to leave.  I had to get some slap on.  Brows, mascara (Dior!), blusher (NARS), lippy (Bobbi Brown) a scoot of Origins ginger perfume stuff and I looked quite respectable.

I hammered downstairs in my stocking soles and braved the shoe cupboard.  I knew that 10 years ago I'd put in a very nice pair of brown suede shoes that would match this skirt.  Unbelievably, I found them and squeeeeeezed my feet into them (a life in flats makes your feet a lot broader than when you spend your days in high heels).

Grabbed my house keys, grabbed my son and off we went.  Feet sore by the time I got to front gate.  Not enough time go back.  It had to be forwards - up the hill to church.

Not being what you would call a regular church goer, the Elders welcomed me with open arms and a sheet of hymns.  I shoved Sonshine at the choir and legged it upstairs where I threw myself into a pew just as the minister started to talk.

It's been a long time since I was in a church.  I confessed to the two elderly ladies next to me that I did not know the hymns.  At last after much standing up and sitting down and praying and singing songs I didn't know to tunes I didn't remember, it was the turn of the choir.

Sonshine stood, grim-faced and concentrating, on his own, at the front.  Unable to see behind him, the rest of the choir were giving it plenty with arm gestures, giggling and swaying.  Utterly focused on Mrs S, the choir mistress, his little face got whiter and whiter the further away they got from the words he had managed to memorise until eventually, his wee mouth was just opening and closing in the manner of John Redwood at the Tory Party Conference all those years ago.

My heart melted.  Poor little sweetheart.  When you become a parent, it's true, your heart leaves your chest and goes walking around outside your body.  I could feel some hormonal tears welling up as I watched him struggling to keep up with the others.  When the end came, it was mercifully swift - with lots of clapping from the congregation.  Clapping in church - that's also new to me.

Then at last, a hymn that I knew - We Plough The Fields and Scatter.  And I launched myself loudly into this lovely old hymn.  The elderly lady next to me dealt me a firm nudge on the arm and I looked down at her.  'You're singing the wrong words!' she whispered.  And, sure enough, they'd CHANGED THE BLOODY WORDS.

It was no longer 'He paints the wayside flower/He lights the evening star' but all fair trade, science, machines and equality for all.  Great sentiment. Rubbish lyricism.

Once again I resumed my mumbling into the hymn sheet.

Then, thank God, it was over and time for the long-promised tea and cakes in the church hall.  They must have recognised me as a stray, because everyone welcomed me with a tray of cakes in their hands.  I didn't let them down.  I helped myself to a couple of nicely sticky tray-bakes.

'They're trying to get you to come to church.' whispered Sonshine, tipping a stick of sugar onto a cupcake. 

I decided to ignore the pancreas-punching combo he was working on and continued to smile at people over my coffee. 'Do you want to come to church every Sunday?' I whispered back, my grin fixed in place and my eyes never wavering from the cake table.

'No.  I'd rather watch the telly while you read the papers.  It's more 'me', I think.'  I choked on my coffee trying to suppress a guffaw.

'Shall we go home and get changed - I'll take you for lunch?'

Sonshine grinned up at me.  'Let's go.'


  1. Dear Ali, that was funny! I start flinging things round in the wardrobe when I can't find something in a rush. Probably why it's in the state it is!

    I really feel for you having to go to church on a Sunday. I could think of nothing worse! I bet you were delighted when he opted for the telly next Sunday.

    Fabulous to talk to you too... I loved your honest. I'm still smiling about what you told me xx

  2. I've just chortled my way through reading that post - we've all been there with the mad clothes flinging!

  3. Bloody hilarious, loved every word of your post.
    I dread having to go to church, I keep thinking I'm going to be struck by a bolt of lightning for being such an out and out atheist. xxx

  4. This is brilliant and perked up a dreary Monday no end. What you write is always so funny, and so true.

  5. I am finally back to the blog and am going to read everything I have missed - it will take ages, but if they are all as good as this one then it will not be a chore - I always leave the pc with a smile after reading your stuff xx

  6. Another Hestia classic. If that had been me, I would have got there and found it was the wrong day

  7. Howling laughing here, I love the dive into the knicker draw.. LOL
    I have been there, not the church thing of course .. I hate church, was dragged every week as a child and now I come out in a sweat anytime I have to enter which is possibly because its only funerals theses days.. No but the wet clothes and finding that the child has grown sometimes over night .. Lovely reading as always xxx

  8. Great post, Ali. I like Sonshine very much. He has good logic.



  9. Hilarious as ever.have been through the same Sunday morning scramble but have now sensibly knocked the whole thing on the head.Much less stressful.

  10. wow, now that's true parental love. only the love for my family gets me through church doors and luckily only my beloved cousin is a church goer so, as a witness at his wedding several years ago, i darkened the church doors for the first time in yeeeeears, even doing a reading (i refused categorically to read corinthians - goddamn boring, and insisted on song of solomon, all sexy and all). now i shall be forced to enter the church at christmas for the christening of my darling niece whose god mother i shall become. and no, the irony of their choice is not lost on me.

  11. This was a great read Ali....I felt as though I was there watching you!! You did brilliantly to get there on time, fully dressed. And you handled those churchgoers beautifully :)

  12. Hilarious! You write so well. You did well to get in to shoes from 10 years back. My feet seem to have been secretly growing and all the beautiful shoes in there taunt my now fat feet!
    Jane x


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