“Is that a trail of – blood?” one of our number asks, in a trembly voice.
All three of us
turn our eyes in the direction she is pointing. There stretched out in blobs along the aisle of the Church is a distinctly suspicious-looking trail of reddish-coloured liquid. I feel as if I have stepped into a real-life game of Cluedo but without
any obvious murderous implements. Though now I come to think of it, being a Church, there are any number of handy candlesticks...
I am here on “Church
Watch” and this, my second session, is already promising to be even more exciting than the first. I am, however, not entirely convinced about the blood because it certainly wasn’t there a few minutes ago and surely we would have noticed someone
being murdered before our very eyes? Could it be drops of water spilt by Edie, who is arranging flowers in memory of her husband’s birthday? I take a tissue and dab at one of the splashes of liquid – it is, indeed, water rather than blood.
The wooden floor of the aisle has given it a reddish tinge, hence the understandable mistake.
We are all immeasurably relieved as there can be few things worse than finding yourself at the centre
of a murder investigation when you thought you were spending a quiet afternoon greeting any visitors to the Church who might turn up in the course of the afternoon. Especially when you have tampered with the evidence by dabbing at it with a tissue.
After all that excitement, we settle down with the Concise Crossword in today’s copy of the i newspaper. We are
struggling with 4 down “disentangle” – 9 letters, when the Church door is pushed gently open and a woman enters. We have a visitor! I rise to greet her, thankful to see that the watery trail has dried up beautifully while we have been decoding
our crossword so the Church does not, any longer, resemble a crime scene.
Our visitor is from Hamburg in Germany. I help her light a candle and she says
we all need to pray for World Peace. There is no arguing with that. I’m glad she wanted to light a candle – I had been gently reprimanded at the start of my “Watch” by the Church Watch Co-ordinator, who told me I had lit too many
candles and might stand accused by the Rector of wasting wax. In my defence I had only lit candles which were already partly burnt down, I didn’t start off any new ones. I thought my candles looked beautiful and welcoming – but all but three or
four were blown out by the CWC. Now a new candle burns brightly on the iron stand and lightens our darkness.
Before our visitor leaves, having bought a couple
of postcards, she tells me she will be coming back to Evensong this coming Sunday to hear our choir sing. She hopes she will see me there and wishes me “God Bless.” I thank her for coming to visit our beautiful church. Returning to
the crossword, the word “extricate” springs suddenly into my mind. Clue 4 down – solved! Then I remember that I forgot to ask our visitor to sign the Visitor’s Book. I am crest-fallen at my failure. My first visitor and I’ve
fallen at the final hurdle.
We discuss whether we should invest in a “Church Watchers’ Box of Tricks” for the benefit of all the Watchers. Contents
would include puzzle books, a dictionary and thesaurus, sharp pencils, a rubber (we keep having to scrub out wrong answers and the crossword is looking very messy.) Also inside our Box of Tricks would be plastic mugs, tea bags and sachets of coffee for use
with the flask of hot water which we will remember to bring along. You can tell we are starting to feel a little thirsty.
A couple who are running a stall
at the forthcoming Church fete come in to check on donations so far received, which are stacked up on pews at the back of the Church. They find a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky and suggest that this is too valuable to be left out in full view and should
be locked away for safety in the Vestry. We think what a great addition it would make to our Box of Tricks. Only joking!
Hey up – another visitor!
This is what you call a busy afternoon by Church Watch standards. Our second visitor wants to see the Rector to discuss his son’s Christening. I ask how old the little lad is and he tells me he is 20, which isn’t exactly what I am expecting
him to say. Apparently he and his family have spent most of the time since his son was born travelling the world and now they are finally settled it seems the right time for a Christening. One of us asks what the Not So Little Lad thinks about
it all but it seems he is happy enough. We direct our visitor to the Rectory and tell him he will be assured a good reception there.
What an interesting afternoon we have had. We have entertained
two visitors, kept each other company, made plans for the future and, what is more, solved the Mystery of the Trail of Blood.
Now if I could only work out the
answer to 13 across...