The Churchwarden sounds very jolly on the telephone. Is it possible, she wants to know, that I could be free to join a band of merry volunteers in the Church Vestry making up palm crosses for Sunday’s Palm Sunday
I regret to say that my initial response is a little non-committal. I have put it in my diary, I tell her, cautiously. The clever clogs among you will
have noted that I didn’t exactly say yes, nor did I exactly say no. The thing was that there were two entries in the diary for Saturday morning, the other being Mr B’s appointment with the chiropodist. What I did not know was whether
he would be expecting me to hold his hand for him. Or even his foot, perish the thought. Whatever, I felt I needed to consult with He Who Must Be Obeyed before I could confirm or deny my attendance on Cross Making Duty.
I ask the Jolly Churchwarden who else will be on duty. She says that so far I am the only person who has answered her phone call. Everyone else has been out, on the phone to somebody else, or unobtainable.
Now I come to think of it, maybe that jolly note in her voice is born of desperation.
As it turns out, Mr B and I reach a wholly amicable agreement whereby
I will spend most of Saturday morning in the vestry before catching the bus into town to meet him outside the chiropodist, after which we can have some lunch, do some shopping and compare notes on our mornings. I suspect mine will be a lot more fun than his.
I walk to church, looking out for bluebells in all the front gardens. Don't you just love bluebells? In my handbag I have secreted a pair of scissors, palms for the cutting
of. I will have to be very, very sure not to forget them at the end of the morning session or I shall incur the wrath of the Guardian of the Family Scissors who will say (with some justification) that I shouldn’t have taken them out of the house.
In all twelve of us turn up. The Jolly Churchwarden sees me coming up the churchyard path and unlocks the door to let me in. Because our little party is going to be
tucked away downstairs in the Vestry she is worried about leaving the door unlocked in case we have unwelcome visitors. Sad but true. As each person arrives, he or she announces: “I really, really can’t remember how to do this!”
Fortunately we have Peggy to help us all out – she has been making palm crosses for more years than she cares to divulge. I, with just one year’s experience under my belt, find that I soon remember exactly how to make them and before long
I am even helping others to master the tricky business. I feel quite proud of myself.
Apparently at tomorrow’s service not everyone will be fortunate enough
to receive one of the 350 super duper palm crosses fashioned by our fair hands this morning. Some people will find themselves in the possession of much smaller crosses. It would of course, be un-Christian in the extreme to complain but it is possible
that some may do so. If this happens then we need to tell them that their cross comes from a supply of ready-made palm crosses ordered from a farm enterprise in Tanzania, so assisting in its long-term sustainability. I have been allocated the job of
handing out crosses outside the Old Palace (where, weather permitting, we are meeting up to process to the church for the Palm Sunday service) so I need to have my explanations ready.
The Jolly Churchwarden brews up coffee and presents us all with hot cross buns. This is an unexpected pleasure. We stop struggling with our palms and spend a happy ten minutes sipping coffee and nibbling buns. We all agree that it
is a pity shops sell hot cross buns all year round, rather than just in the week before Easter. I tell the story about my dear Dad, at one time a baker’s roundsman, who was allowed to bring home any buns which remained unsold at the end of Good
Friday. No other family in our road has as many buns as we did. Someone mentions that Marks & Spencer are selling chocolate hot cross buns this year. Opinion is fiercely divided on whether this is an exciting departure or A Step Too Far.
At 11.30 a.m. I decide that I need to leave if I am to walk to the bus stop and catch the bus in time to meet Mr B outside the chiropodist. The baskets of completed
palm crosses are full to bursting so I think we are all but finished anyway.
The Jolly Churchwarden thanks me for coming and tells me I will have my reward
Golly gosh, and I thought the hot cross bun was reward enough....