My Mental Elf, an unpredictable companion — he and his Black Dog — at the best of times, got an unexpected kicking two weeks ago, since when I have been doing what I can (primarily the application of lavish amounts of beautiful colour) to get everything back to a condition of harmony and peace.
My husband was planned to preach in our Methodist Circuit today, then decided to go to Minehead Spring Harvest (which overlapped this Sunday) so I said I'd pick up his preaching appointment. But then wasn't well enough, so another preacher kindly did a swap for him.
My daughter Buzzfloyd was also on the Methodist preaching Plan for this Sunday, at the community centre up on the Ridge. As I was now free I said I'd take her there.
Meanwhile the Novovirus currently stalking Hastings made a direct hit on her house. Husband, kids and mother-in-law all throwing up, only Buzzfloyd left standing. They began to recover and it seemed to have passed her by, but I said if she ran into trouble I'd catch her preaching obligation for her.
So she prepared her Sunday worship and emailed the hymns and order of service off to the steward. So far so good.
This morning around 5.30 my phone pinged. Uh-oh. Buzzfloyd was throwing up. Right. Into the breach.
I got up and had a bath, washed my hair, and started to dry it; at which point the blowdryer packed up. Not sure of the cause, I went downstairs to the cupboard where the fuse box is to see if it had tripped the system. I switched the cupboard light on and the bulb blew.
Happily I had a good bulb upstairs I'd just taken out elsewhere, so I put that in and — phew — it worked (better than the old one); and the fuse box switches were all set to 'on'.
So I went back up and tried the dryer in another socket — no joy — and plugged my computer into the now vacant socket; yes, worked okay. So the (small, cheap) dryer was dead. No worries. I wrapped up my hair in a cloth and got dressed.
All good to go except for printing off the service that Buzzfloyd had prepared and emailed through to me.
A few weeks ago our printer began to signal that the ink levels needed re-setting. I understood that to mean 're-fill the ink', which my husband at my request accordingly kindly did. I thought that was the solution but apparently not. This morning, after printing off the first three sheets, the printer stopped and would do no more. It wanted its ink levels re-setting and refused to print another word until this happened. Unfortunately I had no idea what this might involve (since it now had plenty of ink) and I had no time to read the manual as faffing about trying to get the hairdryer working had used up the time.
I grabbed up the pages it had printed before it died, got an extension lead and the computer, stuffed everything in a bag and hurried out into the car.
Breathe, I thought to myself; calm. And (crucially) check. I went through my bag to be sure I had everything. Oh no. Where were my glasses? Where did I put them down? I tore back indoors and searched for them — I'd left them in the bathroom — then scooted back out to the car and set off with just enough time to get to church with a few minutes in hand.
The community centre is a hive of activity on Sunday. As I drove along breathing down the neck of the v e r y s l o o o o o w w w driver in front of me, I prayed and prayed there would still be a parking space. I didn't now have time for a Plan B.
Well, between a huge SUV and a stout family car, there was one thin little parking space left, adequate for my fortunately very narrow car. I slipped into it, just, but had to climb into the back seat to get out of the vehicle.
I found my way through the maze of rooms in the community centre to where our people meet for worship. As I came in they were singing, a joyous and lovely hymn accompanied by guitar. So beautiful.
Our printer churns out documents last-page-first, so though I had the blessing and the second half of the address, I didn't have the order of service. As it turned out, the steward to whom Buzzfloyd had sent all the details had gone off to Spring Harvest as well — so the organist had no hymns and no order of service and nobody had any readings.
But Buzz had also sent the bumph through to another preacher who worships there, so she had made a note of the hymns (I snatched the list off her and gave it to the organist).
This preacher also had made a note of the first reading, which Buzz had asked her to read. As it transpired, I was so thankful for this — some of the teaching depended on it, and when I'd looked it up in a hurry to get the text of the readings, I misread the reference and left off ten verses! She, thank God, had it right.
Well, the service went okay — the people all kind and good-humoured and loving as they always are, and the material Buzz had prepared as brilliant as ever, and perfectly timed.
Afterwards, having agilely climbed back into the driver's seat of my car again, I went to the supermarket to pick up plant milk for the humans and a box of dog food for the hungry foxes (I think they must have cubs). At the checkout, the cashier picked up the box and the underneath gave way and out dropped 48 pouches of dog food.
Right, that's it, I thought. I'm going home and staying there. Please God don't let the car break.
When I got home, the rest of the family had been hard at work cooking the most splendiferous Sunday lunch — roast potatoes and gravy and everything delicious.
At the end of the church service, before I left, the preacher who'd read the gospel said to me, 'We have to hold onto our joy. It's precious. Satan wants to steal our joy. We have to make sure we keep it.'
Quotation about being calm an adaptation of words by Matt Haig in his book Reasons To Stay Alive.