Have you ever wanted to just crawl into the nearest available hole to hide one's embarrassment? It happened to me and to Mrs Bluelights on separate occasions, courtesy of my dear son, then aged just 3. I step into my time machine and invite you to join me when I recall both events, occurring during my Painting and Decorating days.
I may have mentioned before that although I am not a Catholic I do attend Catholic masses with my family. There are slight differences in basic theological 'fundamentals' which prevent me from signing up, and so I could be described as Church of England, but more accurately a 'Non Dinominational' worshipper, if you get my drift. Anyway, my first story concerns our then local Catholic Priest who had been 'badgering' me for years to 'join the club' but could never understand why my reply was always that I am a member of the broader true 'invisible' church, free from all denominations.
One day we heard, to our dismay, that some youths, who I can only describe as 'Yobbos' had broken into the presbytery the previous evening and terrorised him for a few hours. They had forced the flimsy side door open and easily gained access. They gave him a torrid time but eventually they left and thankfully he was not physically harmed although he was very frightened and worried that they would return to repeat the ordeal. The police were not much use because they simply did not have the man power to constantly keep an eye on the place. I was asked to see what I could do to fortify the entrance to make it impossible for these thugs to regain entrance. I used fence posts inside the existing door and screwed them firmly into the walls, then I screwed sturdy timbers across the frame and I do believe that by the time I finished it the barricade was so strong it would almost stop a tank. The priest was not convinced, however, because after a week he was still worrying, so I was asked to see him again to reassure him that it was completely safe and no-one could get in. He told me that a reinforced wrought iron gate with bars at only 3 inch intervals was due to be fitted the next day and he said he would be completely at ease with that. I thought for a while and given that he was so distraught I suggested I stayed with him that night to keep him company and make him feel safer. He gladly took me up on my offer so I arrived at about 7.30pm and was greeted by a much relieved priest. We sat for a while and then the inevitable happened. He was an Irish Catholic Priest and in true form he produced a large bottle of whiskey which he proceeded to open and poured two generous glasses for us, remarking in 'a by the way' tone that there was water in the jug in case I wanted it, and during the whole course of the evening I never saw him pour any into his glass.
As one might expect the topic of conversation turned to religion. the saints, purgatory and other contentious issues. I did not mind in the slightest because I do study the Bible but remarked that their New Jerusalem version includes "The Apocrypha" which technically is not recognised in the Canon of Scripture at the various church counsels throughout church history. He appeared to enjoy the debate and smiled when I asked him what was the necessity of asking the saints to intervene for us and that I believed in going straight to the top and asking the "Top Man" personally, implying that anything else would suggest that God is not big enough to hear all our pleas and answer them all at once and why would he require a third party. Anyway we carried on like this until about 2am and had 'downed' many glasses between us, with me diluting my share with copious amounts of water and him having all of his neat, much to my amazement. The inevitable conclusion to the evening was that he drank me under the table and I remember remarking to him that if anyone came to trouble him now I would not be of much use. So we agreed to turn in which we did, with me in the guest room. By now my ears had a continuous humming sound from within and the room was spinning, not in a horizontal plane, but a vertical one and that my friends meant one thing, and one thing only - I was about to bring my boots up LOL. I stumbled to the bathroom - thanking God I remembered where it was - and sure enough my prediction was realised and through the haze I managed to congratulate myself on my marksmanship. I did not sleep a wink that night and had a thumping head, the like I had never before experienced. He on the other hand was a bright as a button at the crack of dawn and showed no signs of any hangover whatsoever. He offered me breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, fried bread, baked beans and then toast - all the things I would otherwise have relished, but today I could not even think of it without revisiting the bathroom. So I bade him goodbye and said I would return that evening to see if the new gate was to his satisfaction.
When I returned home, risking a possible drinking and driving charge I might add, Mrs Bluelights was truly amazed at my condition and equally amazed that 'Father' had actually got me into that state. All I could do, holding my head, was to lie down in complete oblivion to any vestige of life - oh for total darkness I longed! LOL. My son was 3 and he obviously heard some of the things Mrs Bluelights had said to me and that evening I made the serious error of taking him along with me to see the priest. Of course the innocent little lad blurted out as soon as we met, "Mummy said you gave Daddy far too much to drink last night!", to which he replied, "He should have used more water!". Oh! my! I did feel embarrassed but no harm was done because he liked the gate and next mass he mentioned there had been a Good Samaritan in our midst and without mentioning my name he thanked me publicly. As I reward he said mass for my Mother and Father who had both departed. I was highly amused by this but took him up on his kind offer.
Now for Mrs Bluelights' turn. A wealthy parishioner, whom I shall call Florinda, knew Mrs Bluelights is of Polish extraction. Florinda explained she had a special guest staying with her who was Polish and would Mrs Bluelights and the family care to join her for afternoon tea. I was working that day but Mrs Bluelights, our daughter and our son did attend but only after our 3 year old son was 'grilled' to be on his very best behaviour since Florinda was a very 'posh' lady. He was told before he said anything to anyone he must first say "Excuse me!" and we practised this with a high level of success before the day. So with confidence the three of them attended the afternoon tea party. The dear little lad was marvellous all afternoon. He was, and still is, a very friendly and social person and was very sensible for a lad of 3. It all went well until he spoke again to Florinda but this time said, "Excuse me!". She said, "Yes! He said, and this caused Mrs Bluelights to want to find a big hole to fall into, "Excuse me! You are not a posh lady at all - you are a very nice one!"
She roared and roared with laughter!! Oh how kids get you into trouble, don't they! He just loves this story now! Upon reflection it was an extremely nice thing for him to say. For a long time we had some fun with this in church - whenever we saw Florinda we said, "Excuse me!" in a little voice before we began a conversation.