It’s happened again. The curse of people with my day job struck at 9.36 this morning, when I was riding in the perfumed back seat of a minicab on my way to work.
Being a minister and being
found out carries all sorts of risks. I
have had to change barbers and cab drivers. There is a certain stationery shop
I can’t go into any more because the sweet woman who runs it wants to talk
about her dead father’s soul. The fact that I don’t know where her father is,
or what he’s doing, makes no difference.
Today I had travelled no
further than the end of the street when the driver said, “Oh my God, Father—what
am I going to do?”
I studied the back of the man’s
head. I had no memory of having seen him before, but he spoke to me as if we were
intimates. The trip to Crystal Palace takes about ten minutes. I looked at my watch. Nine minutes to go.
“Sorry?” I said.
His girlfriend is drinking and
earning £100,000 a year. She’s a Hindu
and he’s a Muslim. She’s on
anti-depressants. She left him six years
ago and married a Christian, then came back. She won’t take his calls, but
turns up sobbing at his flat after midnight. Their sex life is great. He’s
thirty years older than she is. He’s in hell. Plus, his voice is rising.
“That sounds painful,” I said.
Four minutes to Crystal Palace.
“You have no idea.” Strangled sobs. I made sure my seat belt was secure.
At two minutes till touchdown,
I tried, “Why not leave her?”
“Because she’s so helpless.”
We pulled over near my office.
I opened the door. “Well, be strong,” I
“That’s it! Oh my God, Father, you’re right! I must be strong.” He turned to face me,
tears of gratitude coalescing in his lower lids. “I just knew you’d have the
One foot on the curb. “Eight
pounds,” he said.
I should have said, “No charge,
friend. It’s on the house.”
But I didn’t. It’s my job, right?