Sunday, 5 August 2012

Church is Pants

I am sitting on a pew composing myself for the Sunday service when the church sideswoman darts across the nave. She holds out a brown envelope with my name on. It's a note, she explains, from the elderly lay-reader.

I assume that it's an acknowledgment sent to everyone who filled out an attendance card at her husband's funeral last week. Or a request for an additional supply of grapefruit segments.

At least, I hope it is. The lay reader is a retired deputy head teacher and has a reputation for severity. I'm worried that it may be a reprimand for fidgeting during a sermon, or a summons to bible class.

The service begins and I open the envelope behind my hymn book. There's no note inside, just a newspaper clipping. It shows a picture of a ragged bra and a pair of frayed lace knickers. The story explains that these saucy scanties date from the 15th-century and suggest to historians that Ann Summers had medieval predecessors.

I'm uncertain whether this is a discreet reminder that the smalls on the vicarage washing line need renewing; an assumption that I'm the sort of woman whose mind is on knickers during the Vicar's sermons, or a hint that the lay reader would prefer lingerie to grapefruit segments when next I pay a call.

When Mass is over I consult the churchwarden. She peers at the pictures through her bi-focals and looks up radiant. 'Tell you what,' she says. 'I wouldn't mind buying a set like those!'

That seems to settle it. My puritan thermals are obviously the wrong kind of underwear for Anglican worship. I'm off to Ann Summers before next week's family service.


14 comments:

  1. How strange. Even I'm lost for words.

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    1. The Church of England is an endlessly stimulating place.

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  2. Fascinating that she chose this time to share this information.

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    1. She's a proper, pious lady who nevertheless has a beguiling glint in her eye. The business of the nipple tassles in Mass a few months ago (http://bit.ly/N7mDNJ) seems to have awoken her inner temptress! I'm not quite sure where the underwear came from but am glad that a sense of humour is helping her through this difficult time.

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  3. Lmao, nothing like a bit of excitement at Church! Mich x

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    1. Too right. This lady is fantastic. The nipple tassles uncovered a wonderful, naughty sense of humour.

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  4. Good grief! How very, very odd. I'm not sure how I would have reacted - it feels a tad inappropriate!

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    1. It was unexpected, but funny. They were, after all, historical knickers so therefore of erudite interest! And I don't think she expected the note to be passed on at the beginning of a service!

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  5. Who knew this sort of thing went on in Church?!!!!

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  6. It seems there is also a Facebook page called Wearing Nipple Tassles to Church. I only know this because your blog prompted a little bit of scholarly research. Tragically it only has 5 Likes and could do with a little bit of marketing amongst the ecclesiastical community. Is the elderly lay-reader a social media kind of gal?

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    1. This is most useful information. She's well into her eighties and more at ease with a fountain pen, but the Lady from the Choir, who owns said nipple tassles is cyber savvy and may thoroughly appreciate this niche community.

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