WE are at the Missus’ god-daughter’s first Holy Communion. Only it turns out it’s not her first Holy Communion at all.
It’s actually a confirmation – a C of E job rather than a Catholic one. The clue was in the long silence when my wife asked the god-daughter’s mum what present she should get her and whether she already had some rosary beads.
“Shouldn’t you have known she’d been baptised C of E?” I ask her as we shuffle into the church with the twins. “After all, you did play a fairly key role at the christening, where I’m pretty sure there was a bit about you providing religious guidance.”
“Shut up,” snaps the Missus. “I was probably hungover.”
The fact it’s not a Catholic service is good news. It gives me hope we might be out of here in decent time and over the road to the pub for the meal with the god-daughter’s family that we’ve dangled as a carrot to keep the children on their best behaviour.
It’s a carrot for me too. It would be fair to say I like the idea of going to church rather more than the actual act.
This may have something to do with the fact that as a child my parents went through a phase of dragging us to church every Sunday when I really wanted to be at home watching Starfleet.
Standing up for long periods has never agreed with me and during this eight-month stint I managed to faint in front of a packed congregation not once but twice, each time having to be brought round with some extra strong orange squash.
If services were all wrapped up in around half-an-hour, I think, people would probably be happy to come here a bit more often.
“So how long is this likely to last?” I ask in a whisper.
“An hour and 45 minutes,” says the Missus. “Maybe slightly longer.”
“Oh God,” I say, looking at the already restless children. “I’m not sure the promise of pressing the buttons on the pub fruit machine is going to keep them in their seats much longer than half-an-hour.”
As it is, they manage to last a creditable 45 minutes before I have to take them off to the creche.
Here they behave well and stay pretty quiet, until my son has a bit of a contretemps with another toddler over the ownership of a Thomas The Tank Engine train that doesn’t actually belong to either of them.
Checking the order of service, I take them back to the pew for the final stages.
The vicar (or he could be a dean, I’m not entirely sure) asks to close our eyes in silent contemplation before the final prayers.
I close my eyes, feeling relief that we’re finally on the home strait. Just then, the silence is punctuated by a lone, loud, young voice.
I realise, to my horror, that the voice belongs to my daughter.
“Daddy,” she announces, “you said we were going to the pub now.”