Well, it's time for that to change... For today at least, try not to have your atheism rocked to it's very foundations whilst I recount the story that I like to call:
The Micro-Dandy takes his first step towards the Kingdom of Heaven!
(No, he's not died, you can all relax)
Regular readers will know that, despite all... Well, most of us, attending church pretty much every Sunday, only 50% of the clan are actually rabid Religionites. They are the very worshipful Mrs Dandy and the aforementioned Micro-Dandy himself. Myself and the Mini-Dandy... Well, not so much. She thinks that she'd probably go to church more often if it actually happened when she was awake... Possibly late on Sunday afternoon, and I just think that a lot of the dogma, waving your hands around and having to be a member of a special club gets in the way of the whole 'having faith' thing, which is a bit of a shame.
So, anywho, a couple of months ago he came to his Mother and said, 'Mother dearest, I should very much like to Baptised, please and thank-you.' One thing I think we should probably clear up at this point. He's eight years old and we've always promoted the thought that if you want to make an important decision that only affects you, you should be free to make that decision for yourself when you're old enough. That's why he wasn't baptised as a baby, we wanted to wait until he made his own decision.
I don't mean things like him suddenly deciding. 'Oh, I'd love to know what it feels like to be run over by a car, I'll just jump in front of this speeding Subaru.' We're flexible and forward thinking, not bloody stupid.
So a date was arranged, and it just happened to fall on our local Vicar's last day at the church we attend, which was handy, because he'd already organised a buffet, which saved us a fortune on the catering alone.
Then some truly wonderful Godparents were found and we all went to a practice.
Oh yes, you need to practice a Christening service. (Note: the difference between Christening and Baptism is the same as Wedding and Marriage... You get married at a Wedding, and baptised at a Christening, so now you know.) You have to know where to stand and which bits to read off your cue-cards and when and everything - There's even a DVD to watch, not sure what it was about, I was sat with the Mini-Dandy at the back of the church wishing we'd brought some Korn to play on the soundsystem and discussing the best way to dispose of the bodyparts of the first unsuitable boyfriend that she decided to let us meet without leaving any forensic evidence.
Then everyone trouped over to the font, and Tim, the Vicar, went through a dry run... Because the font was empty... Dry run? no water in the font? Nevermind. Gods, you guys are difficult to please sometimes.
Everyone got their go at being the proud parent, handing their non existing children to the Vicar, who would mime sprinkling them with his special Holy Water and handing them back quickly before they urinated down his cassock. Even Mrs Dandy, although the Micro-Dandy was actually there, the Vicar still mimed the whole sprinkling of Holy Water thing. Then he asked if there were any questions.
The only hand to go up was from my dear Son, 'What do you do with the books that you record the baptism in?' He asked. Everyone laughed, but the Vicar said that actually, that was a very good question, and then went on to explain that when they were full, they go to the County Records Office, so that people who were researching their family trees could use them. Then the Vicar asked if there were any more questions, and only my spawn's hand went up again, there was a ripple of nervous laughter, then a sigh, and the Vicar turned questioningly to him. 'How long do you keep the books for?' He explained that it took a number of months to fill the book, then when it was full, the Records Office kept it for ever. My son took a breath and the Vicar added a caveat about there probably being a digital record in case the Office burned down, or there was an asteroid impact or something, because he has met my Son before.
On the way home, I explained that 'on the day' if the Vicar asked if anyone had any questions, his answer should be a very quiet 'No, thank you.'
So, last Sunday... Or yesterday if you're reading this today... As long as your particular 'today' is the 18th November 2013, was, as they say, the day.
And the families and friends of the five kids being baptised filled the church right up to the rafters... No, really, we had to load the latecomers in with pitchfoks and mallets. I mean, there were a lot of people there to start with, what with the free buffet and everything. But when the various families came in, it was pretty much shoulder to shoulder... Although Health and Safety regulations won't let you stand them too close together, as a lot of the 'posh' clothes that some of the people were wearing had quite a high polyester content, and if they rubbed together too much, there would have been a massive electrical discharge that could have very well killed us all.
Still, I bet the local Primark's profits went up significantly the day before. *cough*
I'm going to gloss over the people who talked all the way through the service, the people who were live-tweeting blow by blow descriptions of what everyone was wearing and the people who you just knew did the whole 'I might burst into flames if I go in there' joke to their mates before taking their seats and then giggled at the people who are there every Sunday without fail and put their hearts and souls into their own particular style of worship. Mainly because I can see myself crossing the boundary of good taste, and getting personal, which I try not to do.
The service proceeded pretty much how the practice had done, baby was plucked from Mother's very breast, splashed with water and then carried into the Nave and shown to the congregation like Rafiki in the Lion King, there was a smattering of applause for each one in turn.
(Actually, here's another fun Church fact... You know how brides traditionally 'Walk up the aisle'? Well, actually they don't. The aisles are the bits that are off to each side of the main set of pews, separated from the nave by a row of pillars - The proper name for it is 'the Central Passageway' - So when you get married, the bride is, for all intents and purposes, being taken up the central passageway...[Editors note: Insert comedy trombone noise here please])
When the Vicar came to the Micro-Dandy, he splashed him around the face with the old Aquam Benedictum and said, laughingly, 'Don't worry, I won't be carrying you out there and holding you up.' To which my son replied, sharp as a razor, 'Why not? you did it for everyone else?'
(Did I mention the Vicar was mic'd up? Ah, the Vicar was mic'd up, and my son knows that in order to be heard, you must speak loudly and clearly into the mic, which he did.)
For a split second, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me, until the Vicar came into the Nave, carrying my eight year old son, and held him up to the congregation. There was an uproarious cheer and pretty much a standing ovation. It was great, and of course he spent those few seconds mugging uncontrollably to the crowd.
Afterwards, everyone said their goodbyes and started to filter out and the Vicar came up to me, shaking his head. He put his hands on my shoulders and said something along the lines of, 'Gold... Absolute Baptismal comedy Gold!' and wandered off, chuckling to himself.
He got some pretty good presents too, an 'Action Bible' graphic novel, drawn in the style of a Marvel comic, a journal, for him to write his innermost thoughts in... Which will no doubt be full of Mincraft seeds and his passwords to a panoply of websites by the end of the week, and a couple of really quite splendid Nerf guns, which his new God-Parents let him shoot at their priceless ornaments with later that afternoon... Told you that they were truly wonderful didn't I?
As it's my Blog, and you can't stop me, I'd like to use the tail-end of this post to say a fond goodbye to Vicar Tim and his family, I've known these people for about thirteen years now and they're great... Should you ever bump into them you should say 'Hi' and 'Would you like a coffee? I'll pay!' - This is them, below - Just so as you recognise them.
|Tim and Elaine, with their children John*, Paul**, George*** and Ringo****|
*** Actually called George
**** Doesn't technically exist - But still might have taken the photograph