Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How I Sent the Vicar Down the Straight and Narrow........




When I was young, I studied English literature and history at college in London. I lived with an impoverished Polish countess and an assortment of weird and wonderful people who also rented rooms from her. Her husband worked at a literary magazine, and Graham Greene and a few other well-known authors would stop by the house. I was twenty ~ it was an exciting time. When my two years of college were over, I had mixed emotions about returning home. I loved living in London, I had a boyfriend, there was much to hold me there. But I went back to Stockholm and stayed for a while. Then I decided to return to London and applied for a job as an au pair, someone who helps out with children and does some light housekeeping. 

I don't remember how this came about, but I got a job in a  British vicarage, located in Lee Green, Kent. I was to look after a four-year old boy, named Stephen. The other members of the family were Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their daughter Janet and eldest son Robert. I believe they were around 12 and 10 years old at the time. Other family members were an orange cat, named Ginger, a rabbit named Biscuit, and a guinea pig that the kids gave to me. There was also a stout woman, named Mrs. Plummer, who came in and did the heavy housekeeping for the family. Mrs. Smith worked outside of the home and Mr. Smith, the vicar, worked at home. They were a wonderful, warm and caring family. The children welcomed me with open arms and I felt at home from the moment I arrived. 

The kids and their pets.

It seems like I only worked about half a day, around lunch and early afternoons. Stephen must have gone to some pre-school in the mornings. Janet and I often went to her riding school and rode horses. My favorite was called Everest, a huge, but friendly horse. We would go on field trips with the horses, riding through the beautiful English countryside. After all that studying, it was an easy and peaceful life. 


Everest and I after a muddy ride.

I often went to church with the family and learned about the Church of England. While living with Elizabeth, the Polish countess, I sometimes went with her to Catholic church. In those days, services were held in Latin, and my Latin from school left much to be desired, so I mainly learned some of the rituals of a Catholic service. The vicar's church was different. I didn't have to go as part of my job, but he was a charming man, a wise man, and his services were really great. The vicar was also very compassionate and kind to the many people who would come to the vicarage for a variety of reasons. Many of them came because there was a need; a need for a talk with the vicar; a need for some direction, some advice, or some assistance.


Mr. and Mrs. Smith

One day, the door bell rang and when I answered it, I found Mr. Jones outside. Mr. Jones was bit a socially inept, a little  off and difficult to be around. On this particular day, he was clearly agitated and insisted he had to see the vicar at once. I knew the vicar was home, so I invited Mr. Jones to step into the hallway. I looked for the vicar, but couldn't find him anywhere. The vicarage was a huge old house with all sorts of nooks and crannies. I opened a couple of doors, just to check, including one to the room where the coal that heated the house was kept. And there I found him! Imagine that, the vicar, a man of God, was hiding in the coal bin ~ well, almost! 


Me and my Guinea pig.

He told me to tell Mr. Jones I couldn't find him. I told him that this man is in some sort of trouble and he really needs to talk to you, so you better go and see him. The vicar said,"no, he just talks and talks and I'm busy." I said, "you're supposed to see these people and help them. And I will not lie for you." This went on for a while, then the vicar relented and met with Mr. Jones.

The next morning, the call came. Mr. Jones had died, unexpectedly, the evening before. The vicar was in shock when he told me. He thanked me for insisting  he talk to Mr. Jones, who had gone home afterwards and then had a fatal heart attack.

Much to his credit, the vicar owned up to this in church the following Sunday. Not to hiding in the coal bin, but to his own reluctance and my insistence on the day that Mr. Jones died. 

I'm sure  the vicar always remembered me and the lesson he learned that day. 








25 comments:

  1. Hi Inger .. you just have to laugh don't you - crumbs poor chap ... thankfully they did spend time together talking before poor old Mr Jones went home for the last time.

    You wonder what the vicar thought - I bet he never hid in a coal house again ... vicarages can be huge places with masses of tiny rooms for various chores .. back stairs too ..

    Loved the story - great tale .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  2. you were strong to stand up for your conviction. and he would have regretted not seeing him until the day HE died.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a fantastic story, love the picture of you and Everest.
    It's amazing the history that shapes our lives, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. A marvelous recounting of that part of your life. You must have many stories from that time period.

    I am sure Mr. Edwards appreciated the Vicar helping him.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your life, Inger, sounds like a fairy tale to me!! YOU were so fortunate to have these fond memories and experiences...:)JP

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a wonderful story, Inger. You've lived quite a life. Thanks so much for sharing some of it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Everyone's life is full of stories--thank you for sharing this one of yours! More, please!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was expecting a different ending to this story and I'm glad I was wrong -- but sorry for Mr. Jones.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What an amazing story and what a fascinating life you had, both in London and Kent. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What an amazing story and what a fascinating life you had, both in London and Kent. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. a fond memory from your past and very interesting a a lesson we all should learn. you were very pretty and i be tyou were a great au pair.
    i have been gone all morning, Baby chewed up my drivers license and it took two trips and much aggravation to get a new one and 32.00... not a happy morning yesterday or today. darn dog...

    ReplyDelete
  12. That was a funny coincidence. I was commenting here while you were commenting on my blog. Thank you for the comment and no, I didn't get around to having that flu jab. Probably too late now!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's a fascinating story. Good for you for insisting that the vicar see that man. I probably would have done what the vicar told me to do.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an interesting story Inger! You have lived a varied life filled with great experiences. Imagine teaching a vicar a thing or two! I wonder if he had remembered this years later and gave a chuckle about this whole situation?
    Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh Inger this is sad the Vicar was lucky you found him that man needed him and that was proven unfortunately.
    I love the pic of you and your guinea I used to have then too.
    Wow that sounds exciting a life you had there Miss Inger:) hugs B

    ReplyDelete
  16. You had a lot of spirit and felt what was right should be done. Bravo for being so brave. Really liked your story.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have to tell you I knew none of that - you have a fantastic past! What a story. sandie

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for sharing this IngerDoodle...what a past you have!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is a wonderful story AND a great lesson for all of us!

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a fascinating story, Inger. I'm sure the vicar was grateful to you for the rest of his life for insisting he meet with the man. I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted that on his concscience. Although I must say, some days I'd like to have a coal bin to hide in.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a great experience you had in England and those photos are so precious! Everest surely was one handsome boy.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Dear Inger, what a beautiful young woman you were. So lovely. And how wise also to advise the vicar that he had to see Mr. Jones and also to be assertive enough to say you wouldn't lie for him.

    Being an au pair sounds as if it was a wonderful learning experience for me. I'm so happy for you that you were with a family of children and adults who appreciated you. How long did you stay with them? Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for your comments. Dee: I think I stayed around nine months. It was a lovely time. Sophie: Am I now an honorary Doodle? I would be so flattered.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It just goes to show that even vicars are human with human failings. I love the phots of you when you were young they're lovely Inger.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails