Sherry and Cakes
Probably the first contact I had with the church was when I must have been about 13 or so. I played the trumpet in the school band, and a few of us had been asked to play a fanfare at the C of E for the visit of a Bishop one evening.
There must have been 4 of us I think: 3 trumpets and a trombone. Michael D. was a choirboy at the church, and knew what he was doing, then our trombonist Ralph T; I have no idea what he was – I think he’s parents were German, I always thought perhaps he was Jewish ( because his parents were rich!) but I never ever considered things like that. Then Nigel F. and me; and I presumed Nigel (from my brother’s year a couple of years older than me) was the same as me, non religious, not anything, English!
Anyway, after a little hanging around, we played our little ditty. All well and good! But then we were invited to take Holy communion from the Bishop! Oh no! What are you supposed to do or say for goodness sake! Michael would go, obviously, being a member of the church. After some hurried discussion, the rest of us decided we would go as well, as to not offend. Michael explained what we had to do, and so when our turn came, we lined up in place, and then kneeled, lowering our heads and putting our hands out to receive the bread. After Michael, Ralph. Nigel…yes…
Even if I had never gone to the church in my life, Father Swift obviously knew who I was; perhaps it was because he was friends with my parents next door neighbours? I have no idea. When it was my turn to take the bread and drink the wine, Father Swift merely touched me on the head and said, ‘Bless you Robert’, and passed me by. Thinking about it now, he was being kind and understanding of the situation, uncritical and astute; but at the time I remember it as being one of those moments I would have cheerfully disappeared though the floor! I felt so embarrassed at having been found out. An impostor. Fake!
Nonetheless, afterwards we were invited to sherry and cakes at the vicarage (or rather in the school hall), and having true (future) musician’s blood in my veins, we duly accepted. Nigel and myself both counted 14 glasses a head. Cheerfully stumbling our ways home. Singing and laughing. Oh what happy times!