Time for a Laugh

Introduction

In these difficult times, I felt we could do with something to cheer us all up!

Contibutions will be welcome – but will only be published at the Editor’s discretion. . . 

14 February – A heavenly Pastime

Like most of us, Fr O’Malley sometimes wondered what it would be like when, as he hoped, he was eventually admitted into Heaven.

One day, while enjoying his usual Wednesday “day off” on the local golf course with parishioner Michael MacGregor, their casual chat turned to this very subject.

Together they wondered:-

  • Would every week see yet another a meeting of the Heavenly PPC to discuss “The Way Ahead”?
  • How many Diocesan and Deanery Committees would there be to sit on?
  • Who would be responsible for maintaining the “Fabric and Fixtures”?

And then :-.

  • Would there be any time off ?
  • Would there be any sports facilities?
  • WOULD THERE BE ANY GOLF?

They solemnly agreed that the first one to “go”, would contact the other, to tell him what to expect.

Sadly, the next week, poor Michael was called to meet his maker, and in 24 hours, Fr. O’Malley got a text message :-

THE GOOD NEWS, FATHER!

“Heaven has replicas of all the great golf courses in the world. You can play any course you want, as often as you like, all day, every day!”

THE BAD NEWS!

“You’re playing for the Benedictines against the Franciscans for the “Archangel Gabriel” trophy, next Tuesday. Tee-off at 08:15.  See you then.  Best wishes, Michael.”

30 January – Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

St Peter was getting a bit frazzled with the time it was taking to get applicants through the admission checks that were necessary to ensure only suitable candidates were allowed into Heaven.

He decided he needed to update the administration procedures but thought he should have some advice and guidance from recent successful applicants – so he set up a Consultative Committee to look into the options for the future and to recommend a way forward.

In due course, the Committee’s recommendation for a new, state-of-the-art Computerised Data-Base system was introduced.  The first stage involved applicants for admission being invited to attend for an interview with St Peter, to check their suitability.

On the first day of operation, a Priest, an Imam, and a Rabbit appeared outside the Pearly Gates.

St Peter looked a bit confused and sent for the Chairman of the Committee.

“What’s the meaning of this ?” St Peter demanded.  “How come I’ve got a Rabbit trying to get into Heaven with a Priest and an Imam?”

“Oh no!” cried the Chairman.  “I told the Secretary to disable the spell-checker and auto-correct functions, while he was writing some “funnies” for the Heavenly Website, but it looks like he forgot.”

St. Peter looked really worried.  He paused,  then added in a shocked tone, “Now where do you think we have sent the Rabbi?”

23 January – A Month is a Long Time

Father O’Malley was well known for having a sweet tooth, and the highlight of his week was the dessert after a well-earned “Sunday Roast”, all cooked by his house keeper, Sister Theresa.

One Wednesday afternoon, Patrick, one of his parishioners saw Father O’Malley and Sister Theresa coming out of the Cash-and-Carry with their trolley piled high with tubs of ice cream, cases of tinned fruit, bottles of raspberry sauce and cartons of wafers.

“Stock-piling for lockdown, are you, Father?” Patrick called across the car park.

“I suppose you could put it like that, Patrick, for I think it’s going to be with us for a good while yet.” replied the priest.

And Sister Theresa added with a smile,  “But Patrick, I just see it as preparing to self-isolate for a Month of Sundaes!”

13 January – Help Yourself!

Father O’Malley had a long and positive relationship with the local Magistrates who served on the Bench of the Juvenile Court.  He would often be called upon for a Character Reference for a teenage transgressor, before sentence was passed.

It came as no surprise, then, to be asked by the Chairman of the Bench, for his opinion of one of the local lads – Michael McLaughlin, an Altar Server no less – up before the bench for the first time.

“It’s an unusual situation, Father.” said the Chairman.  “You see, he’s been accused of shop-lifting.  He admits doing it – but his defence is that you told him, in church last Sunday, that it was God’s will that he should do it.”

“I’d better come down and have a word with Michael.  He’s not the brightest of the Altar Servers, but I’d say there’s no harm in him.” said the priest.

Later that morning, in a room at the court house, Father O’Malley met young Michael.  “Now, Michael, what’s all this I hear about you saying I told you to go shop-lifting?” he said.

“Surely you remember, Father; you even put it on the parish website, last week.  You told us the story about your accident when you were skiing; and how you dreamt you’d heard God telling you off; and  you didn’t accept the help he sent you; and you didn’t do enough to get rescued; and you just sat waiting to be rescued by Him; and all because you had faith in Him.”  said Michael – all without pausing for breath.

“Yes, Michael, you’ve remembered my sermon very clearly.  But what has that got to do with your going shop-lifting?” asked Father O’Malley.

“It was what you said at the very end Father.” said Michael, with a sob.

“You said, {Remember, the Lord helps those who help themselves.}  I remember hearing you say those very words.” he added.  ”So that was what I did; I helped myself; and now I’m in trouble with the police.  They say I was shop-lifting and it’s all your fault.”

06 January – Help Is At Hand!

Father O’Malley went on a skiing holiday one spring and by the third day he was tired out.  An early night was called for and he was soon deeply asleep.

The next thing he knew, he was away again, this time “off-piste” on a cross-country expedition. Unfortunately, he lost his way, slipped down a gully and was caught out in a severe snow storm. The snow steadily built up around him and he was soon trapped, unable to move, buried waist deep in snow.

The good old priest was sure, in his own mind, that his faith would save him – even though the snow continued to fall.  By mid-morning, two skiers came by and offered to help him.

“No thank you. “ he replied.  “I trust my faith in God will save me.”

By mid-afternoon, with the snow well up his chest, a ski-mobile motored across the snowfield to offer help.

“No thank you. “ Father O’Malley replied.  “I trust my faith in God will save me.”

Still the snow fell, and with night drawing on and the snow up to his neck, a helicopter clattered into view.  The winchman dropped down and offered a lift.

“No thank you. “ he replied.  “I trust my faith in God will save me.”

Night fell; the snow built up; soon Father O’Malley was completely buried.  In due course he went to meet his maker, and soon he was at the Pearly Gates  where God came down to welcome him.

“It’s lovely to see you.” said Father O’Malley. “But I had hoped to be saved and to have a few more years to finish my work on earth.  And after all, I did put my trust in you to save me, didn’t I?”

“So you said, my son.” replied God.  “But I sent you two skiers; then a ski-mobile; and finally, a helicopter.  What more did you want?

“You’ve got to do something to save yourself;” God continued, “You can’t leave it all to me you know!

Suddenly, Fr O’Malley heard a knock at his bedroom door.  “Good Morning, Father.” called Sister Theresa.  “I heard voices; I think you were dreaming.”

“I think I was, Sister.” said Father O’Malley.  “Now I wonder what I should do about that message.”

23 December

“Say CHEESE for Christmas”

On the run up to Christmas, and much concerned about all the pressures and problems in the world, and their effect on his parishioners, Father O’Malley decided to try a new style of Homily – one with a touch of humour in it.  “After all,” he thought, “Jesus always used parables to get His message across – why not try using humour?”

So, at the first Mass of Advent,  he announced he had a story to tell.

A cheese manufacturer had developed a “Seasonal Range” of cheeses for the Christmas market. He was proud of his products and the packaging. To see what the public thought of them, he offered to host a parish “Cheese and Wine Party” just before Advent.

Everything went well;  he described each cheese in the range;  gave out samples; and invited purchases.  Most of the products proved really popular and sold well.

But there was a small round cheese, about the size of a golf ball, with a wax coating to keep the actual cheese in good condition.  Almost every member of the audience found something to criticise about it.  They recommended he drop the small cheese from the range.

“But I can’t do that!” he cried. “It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Baby Cheeses!”

There was a shocked silence from the congregation! Then the whispers,  “Baby Cheeses!” “Did he mean,  “Baby Jesus?”  “What a thing to say!”  “Was this not blasphemy?”

“So!” said Father O’Malley.  “What is the message of that story?”

From the front row, Sister Theresa replied, “To be sure, Father, is it that “There is many a true word spoken in jest!”

“Yes indeed, Sister.” said the smiling priest. “And isn’t it also true that we should forget all the worldly problems we are facing, and focus on what really matters at this time of year?”

“Remember, it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Baby Jesus, would it?”

And all through the rest of Advent, and through-out the coming year, in Tesco’s. ASDA, Co-op and the rest, whenever one of his parishioners passed the cheese counter, and saw the little red golf-balls of cheese. they  thought :-

“The Baby Cheeses? – The Baby Jesus!”

 “Now doesn’t that make it all worthwhile?”said Father O’Malley. 

12 December – Emergency!

A red-faced Scotsman was rushing through a train.

At every carriage he shouted : “Is there a Catholic Priest on the train?  Is there a Catholic Priest on the train?”.

Father O’Malley, travelling on his holidays, thought there might a serious emergency requiring his services.  He called out, “Yes, my son.  I’m a Catholic Priest.  How can I help you?  What’s the emergency?  Is someone dying?”

The Scotsman replied: “Oh no, Father.  It’s not that.  We’re just looking for a corkscrew.”

12 December – Three Wise Women?

Continuing our up-dated view of Christmas, I came across the following.

It has been suggested that things would have been different if the Three Kings  might actually have been “Three Wise Women”. –  (Three Wise Men being a contradiction in terms!)

What would have happened??

Well, first of all, they wouldn’t have gone off chasing a comet across the sky;   they would have asked directions and arrived in time to be of some use.

Second, they would have brought some practical gifts, like a decent cot and some clean blankets and towels.

Third, they would have organised the hot water, cleaned out the stable and got rid of all those animals – and their useless minders.*(see below)

Fourth, they would have been able to do something useful when the baby actually arrived. (One of them was sure to be into embroidery and would have had a pair of scissors handy!)

Fifth, anyone not actively involved in helping with the birth, would have been organised into making a casserole, some sandwiches and a pot of tea to refresh the other visitors and well-wishers.

  • Incidentally, if the sheep had shepherds with them, why did the oxen not have some cowboys?  That would liven up the Natuivity play!

03 December – The Visitor!

Fr O’Malley and Sister Theresa were driving home from a day spent at the local Market – and, it must be said – an evening enjoying a well-earned meal  and a wee refreshment at the local hotel.

Driving home they passed through a small but dense area of woodland.  Suddenly, an amazing figure jumped out in front of the car.  It was grotesque! Like a cross between a large man and a small horse, it had cloven hooves, flaming red eyes, long fang-like teeth – and it carried a trident, dripping with blood.

The good Father slammed on the brakes; blessed himself; called on all the saints to preserve them – and shouted to Sister Theresa,

“Sister, Sister, it’s a vampire.  Show him your cross!”

Quick as a flash, Sister pressed the button to lower her window.  She released her seat belt and leaned head and shoulders and arms out of the car.

“YOU STUPID GREAT OBJECT!” she screamed at the top of her voice “WHAT IN HEAVEN’S NAME DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?   WHAT DO YOU MEAN? – OUT HERE AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT SCARING GOOD, GOD-FEARING CATHOLICS, HALF OUT OF THEIR WITS!  YOU COULD HAVE KILLED US!”

“NOW GET OUT OF IT, BEFORE I DO SOMETHING YOU WILL REGRET!”

The vampire took one look at the irate figure, tucked his forked tail between his legs and scurried back into the woods.

“Well done, Sister.” said Father O’Malley. “But when I said, “show him your cross” – I meant you to hold up your crucifix – not to show him how annoyed you were!”

(With thanks to the Vicar of Dibley!)

28 November – The Blind Man

(With apologies to “The Vicar of Dilbey”)

Sister Theresa had been posted to a specialist convent in the midlands of England, providing nursing care to disabled ex-servicemen.

Every Wednesday, she was allowed the afternoon free from her duties on the wards, to attend to any personal matters.  This particular Wednesday – having just completed her week’s spell on night shift —  she felt in desperate need of going to the Nursing Sisters’ quarters for a long soak in the bath and then some sleep.

In due course she was luxuriating in the bath, enjoying some relaxation with a good book, when there was a loud knock on the bathroom door.

Being a convent, there were no locks on any of the doors!

She called out, “Who’s there?”

A male voice replied, “I’m the blind man!”

Relieved, Sister Theresa answered, “All right. Come in.”

The man entered, smiled at the Sister, held up the roller blind he was carrying and asked, “Which is the window you wanted this new blind for, Sister Theresa?”

With a scream, Sister Theresa submerged beneath the scented bubbles.

20 November – The Pope and The Pony

During his recent visit to Ireland, His Holiness expressed a desire to make an informal visit to some of the  more rural parts of the country.  He expressly said he did not want the media to be present; he just wanted to see the “real” Ireland and meet some “real“ Irish Catholics – priests and people.

And so it came about that, one Wednesday afternoon, a plain hire car drew up at Father O’Malley’s presbytery in County Mayo.  His Holiness walked over, introduced himself to the elderly priest pottering in the garden, and explained his mission.

“Well!” said the astounded priest.  “I think I know what to do.  My sacristan, Old Michael, lives in the cottage next door.  He keeps a Jaunting Car and a pony – Seamus by name;  I’m sure he will lend it to us – and I’ll take you for a spin round the parish to meet some of my flock.  I’ll just pop over and check that he’s agreeable.”

Sure enough, Old Michael was delighted to help.  “But there’s maybe one wee problem, Father.  Wednesday is my usual day of rest – and Seamus has a day off too.   In fact, I’ve just given him his regular weekly treat for lunch – his special mash with an extra helping of beans.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Michael.  We’ll take it easy and not risk upsetting the beast’s digestion.  His Holiness is not in any hurry.”

Off they set along the shore road and started up the gentle incline towards the village school.  Suddenly there was an immense explosion as the effects of the extra effort combined with Seamus’s lunch and that extra helping of beans.

Poor Father O’Malley was distraught.  He was mortified with embarrassment that this should have happened in front of such a distinguished guest.  He couldn’t stop apologising to His Holiness.

“Now, now, Father.  Don’t bother yourself about a small thing like that,” replied the Pope. “You know, I actually thought it was the pony that did it.”

13 November – Letters

Paddy arrives in heaven and bumps into St Paul.

He says to St Paul; “Excuse me, Sir. Can I ask you a question?”

St Paul replies “Of course you can, my son”.

Paddy says; “You know all those letters you wrote to Timothy, the Thessalonians,  the Philippians and the Ephesians?”

“Yes, indeed I do.” said St Paul.  “ Why do you ask?“

“I just wondered.”  said Paddy. “ Did you ever get a reply?”

08 November – Marriage Guidance

The Parish Priest, Fr O’Malley, had been on a seminar designed to inform the clergy about new ways to stimulate activities for all types of parishioners.

One of the ideas was to encourage the more mature married ladies to get together, think about their relationship with their husbands, build better communications between them, and help to maintain a happy marriage.

And so “The Tuesday Club” was born.

On the first Tuesday, after some preliminary chat, Father O’Malley introduced the first activity he had been taught at the seminar.  He asked the ladies if they loved their husband.  “Of course!” they all replied.

“But when did you last tell him that?” asked the good priest – and he suggested they all try an experiment. “Take out your mobile phones, ladies,“ he said, “and send you husband a text, please. ”I love you, darling.” is all you need to say.”

With some shocked looks and a bit of giggling, all did as they were asked. When the answering messages were received, each lady was asked to write it on the “Flip Chart”.  These are the replies that they received:

“Who is that?”

“I think you have the wrong number.”

“Please give my wife her phone back.”

“Stop messing about;  I’m busy!”

“Are you sickening for something?”

“What have you done to the car this time?”

“Surely not another new handbag?”

“I thought we agreed you’d stay off the wine until I came home?”

“Did you mean to send this to me?”

“OKAY!  Out with it.  How much will it cost?

“What time is your mother arriving?”

The ladies were not at all surprised at the responses each other received.

Fr O’Malley learned a lot about married life!

22 October –  The Wall

(Received from a regular contributor – but I believe it is based on an original from Dave Allen!  Editor.)

A Rabbi, an Imam and a Buddhist Monk had died and made their way to the Pearly Gates where they met St Peter.

After the usual administrative procedures and checks, they were all ushered through the heavenly portals – where they were astonished to see a 12 ft high brick wall on the right-hand side of the pathway, extending as far as the eye could see.

They stopped and discussed this amazing structure – but none of them could suggest why it was there.  They agreed to go back to the gate and ask St Peter what it was for.

“Oh, that’s simple – and, NO! it’s nothing to do with President Trump!” said St Peter with a laugh.

“It’s just that we keep the Catholics on the other side of it.  It keeps them happy, you know;  they like to think they’re the only ones up here.”

04 October – Which is the Greatest of Us All?

Bro. Michael OSF, a Franciscan; Bro. Edward OSD, a Dominican; and Bro. Ignatius SJ, a Jesuit were debating whose order was most important to the Faith.  After months of arguing, they decided to wait until they had died and then to ask God in person.

Years later, they met in heaven and went to God’s throne-room to resolve their old disagreement.

God seemed a bit puzzled and told them that their question deserved serious thought and contemplation and indeed consultation with a number of official heavenly bodies.  They would have to be patient – but they would receive a reply in writing.

In due course, they each received an answer from God’s e-mail account – which, of course, was kept on a cloud-based server.

It read as follows: –

My Sons,

Please stop bickering about such trivial matters.

All of your Orders are equally great and good in my eyes.

Yours sincerely,

God, M.C.

(Editor’s note: M.C. = Missionaries of Charity, the Order of Nuns founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta …)

27 September (2) – OSTEO-ARTHRITIS

(As told by a staunch Presbyterian Minister… so it must be true!)

A young Irish curate was sent to assist Fr. MacGregor in his parish on one of the Hebridean islands.  The older man could be a bit difficult to get on with, as he was very set in his ways and didn’t like to admit there was anything he didn’t know – whatever the subject!

One Sunday afternoon, the curate was reading the Scottish Catholic Herald and leaned across to ask Fr MacGregor, “Excuse me, Father, but can you tell me, please, what exactly is “Osteo-Arthritis?”

Father thought for a minute, but he was stumped.  Then inspiration came…

“Well now young man, you don’t want to be bothering your head with that sort of thing.” he replied.  “It’s not for the likes of you to be discussing around the presbytery table.  Sure ‘tis all caused by an excess of drink and consorting with loose women.”

“Oh, dear!” responded the curate.  “That’s a real shame.  It says here in the Herald that the Archbishop has had to stay in bed for a fortnight after catching it!”

27 September – Did He Visit England?

In a seminary in Ireland, two young priests, studying for their theology examinations, were discussing the hymn “Jerusalem” and the verse that begins,

“And did those feet in ancient time,

Walk upon England’s mountain green?”

There was much learned debate, but they were unable to reach agreement on what it meant.  Just as the debate began to turn heated, a venerable priest, on retreat from his parish in the west of Ireland, walked past.  He stopped and asked what they were discussing.

“Well, Father,” said one, “we were wondering if this hymn meant that Jesus had visited England 2,000 years ago.”

“Oh, my children,” replied the priest, “surely the answer can be seen in any of the wonderful artistic depictions of Our Lord during his time here on earth.”  He paused, “Just look at his feet, to see the answer!”

The young theologians ran into the college library, loaded up the Internet – but came away, none the wiser.  They found the elderly priest and asked him what it was they were meant to see.

“What was Jesus wearing on his feet?” he asked.

“Sandals, of course, Father.” answered one.

“Nothing else?” asked the priest.  And he was assured that was in fact the case.

“It’s obvious, then,“ the priest said with a smile.  “If Jesus had been to England, he would have been wearing socks with his sandals.  They all do, over there!”

14 September – Who Started It?

A surgeon  and an architect, both English were joined by an Irish politician, and all fell to arguing as to whose  profession was the oldest.

Said the surgeon; “Eve was made from Adam’s rib and that  surely was a surgical operation”.

“Maybe” said the architect “but prior to that, order was created out of chaos, and that was an architectural job”.

“Shure now” interrupted the politician, “but somebody created the chaos first, and that’s where we come in!”

10 September – Remember Your Manners

A newly ordained young missionary priest, on taking up his duties  in Uganda, was walking the five miles across the scrub-land to his church, when he suddenly came face to face with a lion.

Remembering his faith, the young priest knelt down, put his hands together, closed his eyes and prayed to be delivered from the jaws of the lion.

Several minutes went by, so he looked up and saw the lion  with paws together in prayer.

In relief, he said to the lion,”Thank God , you must be a Christian lion.”

“Yes,” replied the lion, “I am a Christian.  And the missionaries taught me  to always say grace before meals!”

07 September – It’s The Way I Tell Them…

A parish priest decided it was time to have the outside of the church painted.  He accepted a very competitive quote from a painter and decorator who happened to be a parishioner and work started almost immediately.

However, it was not long before the contractor realised he had grossly underquoted and so the only way to stretch the materials enough to give him a profit was to add thinners to the paint.

The end result looked OK but during the first lot of adverse weather, the paint started to wash off.  He was horrified and knew he was to blame and so he went into the church, knelt at the altar rail and asked the Lord just what he should do as a penance.

A voice from above was heard to say:  “Repaint and thin no more”.

30 August – A Sailor’s Approach

Two sailors were discussing religion.

“So,” said the first, “you mean we should keep the Ten Commandments?”

The second replied that it would certainly help.

“Well, I see them a bit like the exams we had at university,” the first countered.  “Do you remember the heading on the exam text? This paper contains TEN questions; you should attempt any  SIX of them.”

“What’s that got to do with it?” asked the other.

“That’s how I’d treat the Ten Commandments – and I already know one that I’d miss out!” he said with a knowing grin…

So you can see why discussions about religion might not be very helpful on a warship!

22 August – Payment By Results

A Parish Priest, Fr Murphy, and one of his parishioners, Mr. Johnstone, a consultant surgeon by profession, died on the same day and made their way to the Pearly Gates.

St Peter welcomed Fr Murphy, checked his C.V., his Record of Service, and his Annual Confidential Appraisals completed by his Superior.  He asked a few questions for clarification, made a couple of phone calls, and jotted an entry in his ledger.

St Peter went through the same procedure with Mr Johnstone, the surgeon.  All his records, his personal assessments and reviews by his patients were considered in detail, and double checked.

“Right,” he said, turning to a waiting angel. “We’ll put Father Murphy in one of the stone cells; the ones without any door or windows, facing north,” he said.  “His clothing will be sackcloth and ashes.  And his diet will be bread and water.”

“Next,” said St Peter, “Mr Johnstone will go into the 5-Star Hilton Wing, in an en-suite room, of course, with satellite TV and limitless videos.  He can choose his clothes from the Moss Bros catalogue.  And he can eat and drink in any of the restaurants run by our Celebrity Chefs.”

The priest was astonished at this.  “But why?” he wailed. “Why am I being treated so poorly compared to Mr Johnstone?”

“Oh!” said St Peter.  “Didn’t you know we work on a “Payment by Results” basis?”

“Every time you preached a sermon, your congregation fell asleep.”

“But whenever Mr Johnstone carried out an operation, his patients stayed awake and prayed all the time.”

14 August – It Matters where you are….

A photographer on vacation in Cornwall was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘£100 per call’.

Being intrigued, he asked a priest who was strolling by, what the telephone was used for.  The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for £100 you could talk to God.  He thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Salisbury. There, in the cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.  He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Cornwall and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was.  She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for £100 he could talk to God.  ‘O.K., thank you,’ he said.

He then travelled to a variety of large cities the length and breadth of the UK.  In every church, he saw the same golden telephone With the same ‘£100 per call’ sign under it.

The photographer’s next stop was Ireland and he was eager to see if they had the same phone.  He arrived in Dublin, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read ’40p per call.’

He was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign.  ‘Father, I’ve travelled all over the UK and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I’m told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in Great Britain the price was £100 per call. Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiled and answered, ‘You’re in Ireland now, son … it’s a local call.’

09 August – Faith or What?

Today’s gospel, about Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm, reminds me of the three Benedictine Brothers who were sent to do missionary work in Suffolk.  It just so happened that Bro. Patrick was an Irishman; Bro. Gordon was a Scot; Bro. Boris was an Englishman.

On a day off, they got together, hired a boat, and went exploring the quiet upper reaches of the River Waveney.  They fell to discussing this gospel and the fact that St Peter’s faith seemed to have failed him.

Bro. Patrick was adamant that his faith was strong enough to allow him to walk across the river to get to the Locks Inn – so off he went and got safely across.

Bro. Gordon was not to be outdone – and he, too, stepped out of the boat and made it safely to the shore, and the Inn.

Bro. Boris really had no alternative; he braced himself, stepped out of the boat and immediately sank in the mud.

Bro. Patrick turned to Bro. Gordon and quietly said, “Shall you show him where the stepping stones are, or shall I?”