Scene 19

Inside a church. Sunny, spacious, full. An ENGLISH MINISTER, a LAY PRIEST and two ALCOLYTES, all in muftis, FATHER PATRICK, a visiting American, in vestments.

The observant viewer will spot in the pews BRENDA, ELISHA and CORNTROUGH near the exit, TOBY near the front on the left hand side.

LAY PRIEST: It’s the good at are scared, assa fing. It’s them at ave Jesus in they hearts, as are likely a ave pup in they pants. Just a little play on words folks a get the ball rolling. Sermons don’t ave a be all boring you know. I’ll try a keep it short.


LAY PRIEST: But it also contains what I believe to be a very important message, which is fear.


LAY PRIEST: We all, live with fear. Fear of crime, fear of illness, fear of redundancy, of personal, financial, loss. And I just fink . . . it’s really important that we sometimes take a moment, to step back and say . . . hang on . . . ‘the Lord . . . is my Shepherd. Wiff Im by my side, what can go wrong?’


LAY PRIEST: What can go wrong? I’ve already mentioned a few. Illness . . . can go wrong. Monetary investments . . . can go wrong. Faith itself can, sometimes, go wrong. I ave ad the fortune, never to ave to part . . . wiff a thumb. Not so, Mr. Blackwell, who lost is, four years ago, in a lemon cutter, while he was tending the bar, in a night club. Mr. Blackwell . . . is ere today. What I’m tryin a say is . . . you look around you sometimes donchya and you fink . . . fiddle-dee-dee! I’m glad I’m not Jesus! You turn on the telly and you see these pictures of these starving kids and they legs blown off and there’s some bloke telling you the earth is actually warming up and that’s actually going to kill us all. I am in amazement, suffering is totally victorious holdin the floor no effort. And outside for all you know it’s your car at’s getting nicked.


LAY PRIEST: Faith and love are the core of the Christian faith. This as a knock-on effect in almost every area of Christian life. Once you ave developed these key skills it will impact charity, it will impact . . . and it will impact hope. Because hope is the only solution to fear. It is only through hope that we can ever hope to combat fear.

The camera drifts across Brenda’s parted lips, and frenum and septum and across the bridge of her nose and her eye and down her cheek and her neck and her top and her lap, and crash zooms through the fibres of her denim and her knickers and focuses on the wart in her pants. A grand, slow, zoom begins. As the lay preacher continues through his next speech, he gradually fades down as choral music fades in. It is an intricate setting of Delerious?’s “Deeper” somewhat in the manners of Orlando Gibbons. Eventually, deep within the florets we see Mary’s beautific face. Cut music.

The lay priest has tidied his notes. He makes his way into the pews.

The English priest or whatever he is is about to continue when he is stopped by an urgent whisper by the American priest or whatever he is. They bend their heads together, for a frivolous moment Lisa imagines that the ceremony has been delayed so that the American priest or whatever he is could get a light.

ENGLISH: Father Patrick informs me that God has spoken to him. He has warned Father Patrick that there is someone among us today who does not know Jesus. If this is you, step forward.

There is a hush. Lisa notices one or two heads twirling and straining, as if they know she is on her way to the front, and are trying to see what’s keeping her. Elisha and Corntrough both look thoughtful, with downcast eyes and little smiles.

ENGLISH: No? Is there not someone here today, who is without Jesus? Who cannot feel Jesus’ . . . hand . . . on their heart?

Lisa is terrified that if she doesn’t pipe up, Elisha or Corntrough will dob her in. She stares ahead blankly. The hush. Corntrough clears his throat.

ENGLISH: No? We all know Jesus, then!

There is relaxed laughter. The gentle commotion at the front begins to bristle with the next item on the agenda. Lisa feels relief.