It's 8.53am. In seven minutes my Sunday school is due to start a mile up the road, unless, by divine providence, the Vicar has forgotten his sermon notes again and has to dash back home to retrieve them.
I am supposed to be in the church hall laying out pots of craft glue and orange plastic chairs for my handful of young charges. Instead I am on my knees in the vicarage guest room, rummaging through the wardrobe for a ball of brown wool. It's impossible, I've realised, to explain the baptism of Jesus without brown wool.
All I can find is a skein of glittery red tapestry thread. Jesus and John the Baptist will have to be scarlet-headed punk rockers rearing out of a tissue-paper River Jordan. It's now 8.57am. Only the 10-year-old is coated and shod, ready for the high-octane speed trip in the Skoda. The 12-year-old is lying across her bed wearing one leg of a pair of track suit bottoms and diamante headphones. The amorous agonies of Jesse J have deafened her to my bellowed summons. 'Nothing to worry about!' she says as she hunts out coordinating accessories. 'Sunday's meant to be all about lying in!'
9.03am and we are careering up the lane where the church is. The congregation is already half way through the first hymn as I sprint to the door, sowing Pritt Sticks among the memorial stones through the holes in my craft bag. 'Nothing to worry about!' says the 12-year-old, laconically following. 'There probably won't be any children there.'
Once I've wrestled the moody iron door handle into submission and fired two last Pritt Sticks down the nave, most of the congregation have clocked our arrival. And I have clocked the fact that half the infant population of the borough are awaiting me in the children's corner.
Twenty of us cram into the hall. I explain about the river baptism and the Holy Spirit hovering like a dove over Jesus while two of the audience embark on a game of shriek-tag round the table legs. We slather glue over the tables and each other's coat sleeves and a residual amount makes it onto craft paper to enable us to recreate the baptism with tissue paper and stripy fabric squares. The planned half hour turns into 50 minutes. I suspect the Vicar extends his sermons when my name's on the Sunday School rota to test my faith and fortitude.
Then I see the church warden waving frantically through the window. The mayhem of my ministry has drowned out the bell summoning us for Holy Communion. The congregation has embarked on the final hymn as we surge dinfully back into church, trailing a collage of punk John and Jesus and pooling glue over the parquet.
Luckily, the worshippers look kindly upon the infant flock as they hold up their handiwork. Even more luckily, the Vicar looks impressed. 'So, what does the picture show?' he asks. There's silence and I panic. Did I actually remember to name the river Jordan and John the Baptist? I'm relieved when a small boy puts up his hand. 'It shows two men in pyjamas with a hula hoop,' he explains.
The Vicar is looking less impressed. 'Do you know what this is?' he asks, holding up the large red Sunday School bible. This time there is no hesitation. Another small child shrills in reply: 'It's a bus!'
Does anyone else want to take over as Sunday School teacher?