This is a re-run of a story I wrote last Easter when I was an ambulance man. I have now left the Ambulance Service.
Almost as soon as Geraldine vanished, much to the relief of the frightened vicar, another blinding flash maintained the untimely interruption to this most unusual wedding service.
Inside the church entrance stepped two gentlemen, one wearing very strange apparel, never before seen by anyone in the church or elsewhere. The other was clearly a man of the cloth.
They both strode forward together to amazed looks of horror.
The vicar shouted with a trembling voice, "Who are you and do you realise you are disturbing a wedding? My, I have never in my life experienced so many interruptions. You Sir, in the funny clothes, state your business."
"I am Eddie Bluelights and I come from the future on a different mission to Geraldine, a lady whom I believe has visited you already. My personal mission is to find my great grandfather, James Pendleton, and try to save him from a most unfortuate event scheduled for January 1905 - but I will explain all that later.
"Geraldine knew I was in the area and 'commanded' me to collect and bring here this very bewildered vicar beside me, Reverend Harding, from the church of St Benedict in the suburb of West Derby, Liverpool, 50 miles away. Apparently he has lost a bride and groom whom he is due to marry this afternoon, along with all their guests and the ushers. As for my clothes I am an ambulance man and I am wearing a standard 'hi-viz' yellow bomber jacket as per normal dress along with my usual green uniform. Quite proper I can assure you."
"How preposterous!" You look like a giant bumble bee! - that dress is entirely unsuitable for births, marriages and deaths, or as the modern day generation has it, 'hatches, matches and dispatches' - dreadful phrase! You need to be dignified and stately at these functions! What did you say you were?"
"An ambulance man."
"A what bulance man?", enquired the entire congregation.
"I drive an ambulance with blue flashing lights and a loud siren so I can get through traffic quickly to get people to hospital before they die, hopefully, with a qualified paramedic in attendance, so the doctors can make them better. I drove like the clappers to get Rev Harding here - he fainted when I met him so I put him on the stretcher! The roads are awful - it is 50 miles away and it took me three quarters of an hour. Has the wedding occurred yet?"
"Three quarters of an hour? Don't be ridiculous! Impossible!
"The man running in front of you with a red flag could not possibly go that fast, and neither could your horses."
"I don't need a man with a red flag and I don't have any horses - I have an engine under the bonnet (or 'hood' as the Americans say!) equivalent to 150 horses - my ambulance goes like a bullet and is presently parked outside! Where can I get some diesel fuel?"
"Ridiculous, nothing can possibly go faster than 25 miles per hour - as everyone knows the acceleration would kill you! - you'll be telling us that a man has landed on the moon next!"
"He did, ages ago in 1969 and several times since that! I come from the year 2009 where things are a lot different from your present day experience!"
"What! Nonsense!" protested the vicar, "Time travel now, H G Wells and all that! You're really winding me up now! Never mind, he's obviously loopy. Now look I am trying to conduct a wedding ceremony and everyone seems intent on preventing me from doing so. You Sir, Reverend Harding, what say you?"
"Well I arose this morning, 10 April 1891, to make preparations for a marriage I was due to conduct this afternoon, the marriage of a Mr James Pendleton, widower, to a Miss Elizabeth Evans, spinster, both of my Parish. I was walking towards the church at 2pm in order to to officiate when I noticed:
There's the steeple!
"Open the Doors! Hmmmm . . . . . . . . . . . !
"But . . . . where's all the people?
" I was horrified and petrified! It was then I fainted and awoke to find myself being resuscitated by Eddie Bluelights here, who said he was here by order of someone called Geraldine to collect these two persons, James Pendelton and Elizabeth Evans from your church so I could marry them at my Parish. Are they here?"
"Well, we have ascertained that one of them is here, James Pendleton, but we are looking for the young lady who is causing us big problems - there are nearly 770 candidates."
"How strange, how come?"
It was then, as they were all trying very hard to digest this information and make sense of events, a young man at the back of the church roared across the entire congregation, "I have and objection too about this wedding! That's my Elizabeth you have at the altar - she's mine - keep your mitts off her, you at the altar with her! She’s not marrying you today, tomorrow or on any other day. She is mine!"
The vicar of Congleton was very angry, "Come to the front young man and explain yourself at once! Are you married to her? If not forever hold your peace!"
The objector quietened and said, "Married? Well no, not exactly, but she's mine all the same!"
The man under question stood near James and Elizabeth and when the vicar saw the two men together he nearly swooned, so did Elizabeth, so did James and so did the man, for the two men looked almost identical except the man who objected was clean shaven whilst James wore a mustache.
"This is most uncanny! I cannot take all the events of the day in!" exclaimed the vicar, "Are you related to each other, you look almost identical?"
"Not to my knowledge!" said James and the other man agreed, but all could see high tension and animosity growing between them.
"Young man, you object to the wedding. Exactly who are you, may I ask and why do you object?"
"James Pendleton is my name."
"What!" another James Pendleton! We have two James Pendletons, how can this be?", asked both confused vicars and the entire congregation in unison.
"We repeat, who are you?"
"James Pendleton, a domestic cook living in Congleton b 1839, I know not where I was born yet – they can’t find the records – but my death is destined to be registered in 1902 in Angelsea, Wales, a town with a very long name - you might remember a famous railway station, the longest town name in the United Kingdom,
"What!", exclaimed the entire congregation.
he repeated, "meaning 'The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool St. Tysilio's of the red cave'.
" My death certificate will show I died of peritonitis and other bowel complaints, aged 63! Obviously I did not like my own cooking! Otherwise they haven’t done all the research on me yet.”
"We do not wish to know all that! All this is highly irrelevant", said the vicar. "I'm inclined to order you to shut up and send you to the back of the church, Mr Pendleton, so I can get on with the service. What with you, that bumble bee and that mad woman who just gate crashed my service you are causing me undue and unwanted waste of time! The nuns and bishop will be getting annoyed at this unpardonable delay! However, since you object, state your reasons."
"This lady, Elizabeth, is my fiancee and we are due to marry this very day but she disappeared recently and I showed up here today just in case she remembered our wedding day - and . . . she turns up with another man who looks just like me!!!. Now I know where she was all this time, with this scoundrel."
Pointing to James he roared, "Sir, I demand satisfaction and challenge you to duel. Choose your weapons and chose a second for you dishonour me and I will have my honour restored! We shall meet outside and duel in the cemetery - to confirm my displeasure I strike your face with my glove . . . there! One of us must die and it will not be me. Vicar, there will be another funeral for you within this very hour!"
The other James Pendleton was about to respond with equal venom when the vicar intervened with commanding authority, "No you don't, no duelling at this church - I do not intend conducting another funeral this afternoon - I have one already, and I do not want any sleeping bodies disturbed in my cemetery thank you very much! I have a serious question to you, Sir, that is James Pendleton at the altar. You are about to marry this young lady, Elizabeth. Who are you and where do you come from?"
"My name is James Pendleton b 21 July 1847 in Runcorn, now living in Liverpool, father of 5 by my first marriage to Emma Long, a beautiful daughter of a stonemason, Thomas Long b 1807 – my professions range from soap hawker extraordinaire, trainee book keeper, chemist assistant, soap boiler, mineral water entrepreneur, and foreman – and I too will have my death registered in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, but in 1905, 2nd January to be precise! So I am the right man, that’s for sure."
"What!!!!" exclaimed the entire congregation, “two James Pendletons, and both ending up in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."
By some miracle they all said it in unison with not one mistake. Fancy that!
"Remarkable!" exclaimed both vicars, adjusting their false teeth after their vocal acrobatics, "the similarity of both these fellows residing at
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is most uncanny.
Have we misheard? Kindly restate your name, occupation and from where you originate?"
(To be continued press HERE for Episode 3)
. . . . oh and by the way can you say it?