26th January 2012
What do you mean, Bink?
“Got to be out”?
The College isn’t making you leave, surely? Slinging you out?
If I’m going, if I’m degrading, it’s best that I go straight away. Apparently. Otherwise I’ll end up paying another term’s rent. And it will get complicated. So my DoS wants me out immediately. And if I’m not gone by Sunday, he’ll...
Tears of distress and panic overwhelmed again.
What? Evict you? I was angry now.
I don’t think so, Bink!
We had been here before, don’t forget. Twice, as it happened.
The church can be a wonderful... what? Institution to work for? Let’s say, family to give your life to. You make friends for ever. Your contribution can have eternal significance. The rewards, as they say, are out of this world…
However, as a member of the clergy of the CofE your boss, strictly speaking, is not the Diocese; not the Bishop; not even – as I understand is the case in some non-denominational churches – the congregation which pays you.
But God Himself. Legally. I believe. And great though God though obviously is to work for, His channels of delegation can sometimes be a little messy...
His choice of representatives, as ambassadors for His perfect Justice and Righteousness – and, one assumes, divine efficiency – occasionally seems to us mere mortals a tad… eccentric, shall we say?
Thus it has come to pass that twice, during the course of what we laughably refer to as Shaun’s clerical career, an attempt has been made to evict us.
The first time I absolutely believed the vicar, Shaun’s line-manager under God, verbatim. And would honestly have moved out, as he asked us to, on the button, without demur.
The first intimation I had of this entertaining little whim was on a Monday. That he wanted us out by Thursday.
While Shaun was away on a reading week. Before the days of mobile telephones and instant contact.
When we had three children under four. Who were not, as it happens, on Shaun’s reading week with him. But at home with me. Meaning I had one or two things to do in my spare moments.
With a houseful of furniture.
And nowhere to move any of it to, except possibly the garage of my parents’ seaside cottage some hundred miles away or more. And no car: I used to transport the children by tricycle.
And just by chance I was not particularly well that week and had my first ever deadline on a paid piece of writing, an article for a magazine.
I did my best. Truly I did.
I rang the new vicar who had just interviewed Shaun for his second curacy, and talked him into giving it to him. In Shaun’s absence. On the grounds that otherwise we’d be homeless by Thursday. So the fact that said kind vicar had thought his curate-accommodation too small for three children, a large dog, an au pair, a wife and the curate himself, really didn’t seem quite such an obstacle as it had a moment ago.
That done, doing anything more to get us all of out the house by Thursday (for no apparent reason whatsoever, since a replacement curate hadn’t yet been appointed) was so patently absurd... well, I’m not usually given to giving up... but I did.
When Shaun got home at the end of the week, he told me that evicting your curate before he has a new post (and house) to go to was so completely and utterly illegal that I needn’t have worried at all.
So by the time of the second attempt – which you will have read about, here, some months ago if you’ve been with us that long – I’d got wise to being evicted by law-flouting vicars, and all Hannibal’s elephants wouldn’t have evicted me out of our home until we had somewhere to be evicted into next.
Apart from anything else, not only is it quite difficult to evict someone anyway; not only had I learnt to become a lot more stroppy when being pushed around or seeing my children pushed around; but I’d also done a spot of journalism myself by then, and become a lot more savvy not to say cynical about what you could do to an institution like the CofE, through the pages of (say) the Daily Mail, if you camp all your children out on the pavement, sit them on bin-bags and tell them to look forlorn..
(And then ring the Picture Desk.)
So these two experiences were behind us now…
Bink, it wouldn’t be legal for the college to kick you out by Sunday. Not even remotely. You’re not well!
But suppose he sends the porters round to move all my stuff?
She was terrified.
You don’t need to have the law on your side or send legitimate bailiffs to Bink’s room, in order to scare the wits out of her. You just have to threaten to touch her possessions the wrong way... and you can catapult her into orbit for years.
Gatsby did it, some years later.
She still hasn’t landed.
Her DoS had struck me as such an intelligent man.
Could he not imagine? Did he not see what the threat of this alone would do to her? The very thought of her belongings all being muddled up and dirtied and moved without her being in control. Dumped outside on the street. The screaming anxiety she must be going through, just at the idea of it.
She burst into tears again.
He wouldn’t have dared treat me like that if you’d been there... And the reason I didn’t ask you to come with me... it’s so silly... I didn’t want to raise your hopes.
My hearing quickened.
I’ve started an essay. I just wanted to finish it before I leave. But I didn’t want you thinking and hoping I might be able to finish it, and stay.
Bless you, Bink!
I rang the college chaplain.
I remembered his telling me, with exquisite poetry, of the day he decided to live again, in the devastating wasteland after death took his partner. There simply came a day, he said, when I woke up and a blade of grass was green again...
He struck me as someone who understood pain.
He had a visitor with him but would be free in fifteen minutes. Or indeed, he kindly invited, if we arrived before that, we could meet his visitor too.