Our esteemed church warden says it is just like riding a bike. Once mastered, never forgotten.
The dozen of us sat around two trestle tables in the church aisle look back
at her with doubt in our eyes. We are here to make palm crosses for tomorrow's Palm Sunday service. How many do we need to make? someone has the temerity to enquire. Apparently the answer is three hundred but we aren't going to dwell on it. It's only a number
after all. Albeit a pretty big number...
My friend Eleanor is a little cross (if you will excuse the pun) because I didn't read the text she sent me at 8.05 this morning, reminding me to bring a pair of scissors
with me. I shouldn't really have needed the reminder, bearing in mind that this is my third year running on the Palm Cross Production Line. Unfortunately in my hurry to get to church in time (not that I was getting married in the morning or anything, you understand)
that it was as much as I could do to get myself out of the door, let alone scrabble in the kitchen drawers for a pair of scissors.
It does take a while to remember the way to make a palm cross. The secret
is in the central knot. Get that right and you can't go wrong. However, even for those with a certain experience to call upon, it takes a while to get back in the groove; after half an hour, we have made just forty crosses and our esteemed church warden is
talking about having to finish off the task at home. At this thought, I, for one, redouble my efforts. I can't bear the thought of her sitting alone at her dining room table struggling away, palm branches strewn about her.
Half an hour later and we have made 125 crosses, we are almost half way there. To help us on our way, cups of tea and coffee appear plus a plate of hot cross buns. Just what the doctor ordered for One Who Is Always Thinking Of Her Stomach. The next
batch of Palm crosses are slightly sticky and have the distinct smell of cinnamon.
Eleanor is making tiny crosses out of the remnants of the palm branches. Our esteemed church warden says maybe the children
would like the crosses which Elspeth is making. Elspeth? Who is Elspeth? Eleanor shrugs and smiles. Like my lovely mum, she doesn't mind what she is called. So long as it is not too late for dinner.
recalled the knack, I am now motoring. Our previous Rector, now retired, had very specific criteria which had to be met before a palm cross could be considered fit for purpose. The new order is less picky but I still feel the need to meet the exacting standards
I recall from my first experience of cross making. Eleanor warns me that I am in danger of poking someone's eye out, such is my cavalier flourishing of palms. Should somebody have carried out a Risk Assessment beforehand? I wonder.
Amazingly, by 11.30, the final tally is 300. We have reached our target. All we need to do now is to sweep up the bits of palm branches littering the trestle tables and the floor of the aisle. I have half an hour to hot-foot it to
the Old Palace where my friend Sue is presiding over a coffee morning in aid of the Children's Society. She is so pleased to see me that I am really glad I came. She makes sure I have a cup of coffee and a cupcake with a miniature Easter egg on top. I buy
raffle tickets. I don't win but I don't care. It's been a lovely morning.
Tomorrow, provided it doesn't pour down with rain, the congregation will process to church, waving palms and singing Ride On,
Ride On in Majesty as they enter the church. I won't be there, because I will be driving to my sister's house for our Brothers and Sisters Day. Both my brothers and my sister will be there, together with one brother's daughter and grandson. The latter is interested
in his family history so I will be bringing along my Usher family file. Mr B has printed off a photograph to give the lad - a photo of his great-great-grandad and his great-great-great grandad. It will be a lovely day of family reminiscences.
It means I won't be in the church procession of course. But I will be there in spirit. And in my coat pocket, one of Eleanor's tiny palm crosses.
Perfect in every detail.