I try to cultivate an air of pious decorum in church. My woolly layers, a vital buffer against the chill of the pew, imply solid respectability. My hat conceals the twelve months since I last visited a hairdresser and my expression of rapt enlightenment, rehearsed in the shaving mirror, disguises my internal warfare over the pea-green jeans in the Boden catalogue during the parish notices.
The advent of children has not aided my endeavours, however. Since the moment of my son's baptism when my daughter slashed the silence with: 'Mummy hit me!' it's been downhill all the way. 'Baby's fallen in Jesus pond!' cried my son, panicked, as, one Sunday, a proud father filmed another solemn gathering round a font.
The passing of the years would instil in them due reverence, I thought. Tirelessly in Sunday School I turned loo roll tubes into saints and conjured flocks of sheep from Whiskas boxes to prompt their spiritual awakening. But a decade on, my resolve to be a Pillar of Righteousness remains undermined by my companions.
The Angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary was interrupted by my 10 year-old during one of the readings in the packed carol service this Christmas. 'What's a virgin?' she hissed.
Today's service, though, passed with unusual dignity. My daughter, seraphic in her server's alb, made angry gestures from the altar over my latest hat and my son wrestled his full bladder into submission with Gangnam-style motions during the Eucharistic Prayer, but I preserved an air of implacable prayerfulness. Until the final hymn. The faithful on the other side of the circle of pews were staring. I glanced at my son. He'd stuffed a roll of pew sheets down his jumper and was posing like Dolly Parton. 'Come down O love divine,' I warbled frantically, but as the last organ notes faded, my son's voice was the only one still audible: 'From now on, Mum, you've got to call me Mr Boobies!'