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Another Fragment: Banknotes in the Parish - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Another Fragment: Banknotes in the Parish

It had been a comforting thing to find that the Head Teacher at the village C of E voluntary-aided school – and churchwarden, as well, and tower captain for the ringers at St Mary’s (bells cast by Bilbie) – was a member of the Sloper family, a kinship who were rooted deep in the land from Great Bedwyn to Bishop’s Cannings and on and over to Grovely Wood; who were long familiar with the Suttons: Littlecombe, Mallet, de la Mere, Malvey, and Grimsditch: with Starveall, Stony Down, Stoney Chalke, and Twatford Mulliner.  Indeed, Mr Sloper, although himself a Muggle, was Old Gryffindor Jack Sloper’s uncle, which smoothed things over considerably, really.

 

Mr Sloper – Geoffrey Sloper, MA (Oxon) – had wasted little time in involving Harry and Draco in the life of the parish, and in smoothing their way amongst the Muggles: a task made much easier by their having been snapped up by the choir in positively predatory order.  (There are never enough baritones and tenors to hand in a parish.)  Geoff Sloper had gone into positive transports when he found that the two were also capable enough to be trained to be reserve ringers as well, on the rare occasions on which they could be spared from the choir, and he had made a dead set at getting them inextricably involved in all the affairs of the parish, pressing them to serve on the PCC: to which inevitability they had given away with good grace.  Within a matter of months, they had found themselves thoroughly entangled – and not infrequently imbrangled – in the affairs of the Friends of St Mary’s Church, the Coal Charity that kept the poorer villagers snug in winter, the Lady Penruddocke-Wyndham-Ludlow-Bruges Trust, the village and district history society, the RSPCA, the RNLI branch, the village Concert Society (‘beats Milverton hollow’, the village stoutly maintained, to a man), the Bowls Club, the Choral Society, the Operatic and G&S Society, the Gerald Penruddocke-Wyndham-Ludlow-Bruges Day Centre (meets in Sutton Littlecombe Village Hall every Thursday: contact the Parish Clerk for details), the Sutton Littlecombe Cricket Club, on the Second XI of which they now played, the Squash Racquets Club, the Friends of the Cottage Hospital, the Golf Club (‘Of course, Muggle golf, Hermione.  Magic would only make it easier and less sporting’), and, in Draco’s case, another group of essentially the same membership, the local Conservative Association.  They had joined the Hunt, they were JPs and were persistently begged to become parish councillors, and they were supporters and patrons, not to say underwriters, of the Sutton Littlecombe Football Club, although they did not play (Draco’s actual words had been, ‘Mud and blood?  I think not, I’ll keep to my own wicket, thank you’).  It was, Draco had often said, just as well that they were clearly and permanently – bar Polyjuice – ineligible for the WI and the Mothers’s Union, or they’d doubtless be involved with those as well.  But it was the parish church around which local life revolved, even for the Nonconformists, RCs, and unchurched of the district, it being the primary cultural venue for the whole of the country ’round.

 

The vicar – a relatively new man, although of local origin, and, older residents said, just not quite the most satisfactory, or, rather, least unsatisfactory, since the days when the advowson of the living had been in the gift of Christ Church, Oxon – had called this night’s meeting to confront an increasingly pressing need.  The church organ had gone from wheezing to emphysemic, and was now all but mute.

 

To Draco, present and keenly interested as a chorister as well as a very new member of the PCC, this seemed an easy enough challenge to surmount.  The Reverend Dr William (‘Call me Bill’) Priday, MA (Cantab, to his everlasting shame), DD, being after all the scion of an old local family, had foreseen the probability that Lady Penruddocke-Wyndham-Ludlow-Bruges would insert herself into the discussions and attempt to take the reins of any appeal for funds.  He had not foreseen that his rather alarming and rather new parishioner, who had become far too prominent in the parish far too rapidly, would override the usual forms more magnificently and arrogantly than even the formidable Lady P could have thought to do.

 

‘Not to worry,’ drawled young Mr Malfoy, waving a negligent hand.  ‘Just you leave that to us, Padre.  In fact, I see no reason why Harry and I couldn’t run to a new Frobenius at one end the church, and something nice and traditionally English at the other – Willis would do, or Mander, but all in all, I think it would be best to send over to Buckfastleigh in Devon and see what Drake and his lot have in the way of time for a project, or, no, a Willis or a Mander for the second organ and then we do need a small choir organ suitable for Baroque work, we want Drake for the builder for that and Stephen Bicknell to design it, Penny’s Mill, over at Great Bedwyn, have some superb quarter-sawn oak for the case and gallery –’

‘I fear,’ said the vicar, clearly gobsmacked, ‘that we will be fortunate indeed merely to secure the funds for repairing the organ that we have –’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Draco, ‘I was unclear, Harry and I will pay for the lot, we can certainly afford –’

‘We’re hardly All Saints, Kingston,’ said the organist, clearly torn by the necessity of urging caution and his sheer, naked lust for the dream of an organist’s heaven that Draco had so casually dangled before him.

‘No reason we can’t do better than that lot,’ said Draco, taking his cheque-book from an inner pocket.  ‘Now, to whom do I make out the –’

‘DRACO.’  Harry was clearly struggling to hold something in check, though whether it were his temper or his laughter, no one, not even Draco, could be quite sure.  ‘May I speak with you a moment outside, love?’  And he all but dragged Draco into the corridor by his ear.

 

What is wrong with you, Harry?’  Draco was well on his way to a major bout of temperament.  ‘It’s not like you to be mean with money, we can well afford –’

‘DRACO.’  Harry took a deep and calming breath.  ‘Love.  Listen very carefully, please.  It is immaterial that we can readily afford to restore the whole sodding church if we choose.  It is vulgar to offer, at least in this way: this is not how things are done, certainly not in the country.  If you doubt me, ask Aunt Andromeda.  Or Uncle Ted the Tinker.  Ah, ah: listen.  The church and its fabric are the responsibility of the vicar and the churchwardens, we’re rather insulting them by suggesting that, er, “Bill” and Geoffrey and Lady P aren’t capable of doing their jobs.  Moreover, love, the church is the common property of us all, the parish, the community.  An appeal makes all of us stakeholders in it; our simply flashing our dosh about and putting on side is gravely offensive to everyone else, who wish to help, yes, even with a pound here and a pence there, a widow’s mite.  Do you see what I’m saying, here?’

Draco was crestfallen, and looked it.  In fact, he was very, very close to allowing his lower lip to tremble, which, as Harry well knew, would cause them both to cease to be rational (a tactic which Draco was by no means above using to get his way, it may be added).  ‘I’m sorry,’ said he, in a small and perhaps calculatedly miserable voice.  ‘I just wanted to do something nice….’

‘I know, love.’  Harry’s tone was indulgent, and his arms were comforting around a huddled and ostensibly penitent Draco, but his resolution was unimpaired.  ‘I think we can compromise, here.’

It was not for nothing, after all, that the Sorting Hat had tried to place him in Slytherin House.

 

‘Vicar?  Lady P, Geoffrey, Martin; fellow members and choristers.  Perhaps I should explain why we got a bit carried away.’

Bill-the-Vicar (‘Vicars oughtn’t to be called that, or wish to be,’ Draco had often complained.  ‘We mayn’t be All Saints, Kingston, but we’re not bloody St Albion’s, either, I can’t stand this intolerable false matiness, I don’t go about calling the publican by his Christian name’) looked a bit dubious, but Lady P was rather impressed and Geoff Sloper, who had heard his nephew Jack hold forth on the subject of one Draco Malfoy many times and at length, was stifling a grin.  The organist, Martin Vizard, was simply hoping that, somehow, he was yet going to get three new pipe-organs out of the deal.

‘Draco and I had been thinking for some time about some tribute we could make to, ah, well, as a memorial to some old comrades of ours who served and, in some cases, died, in … unacknowledged action.’

‘Ah,’ said Lady P, gustily (Lady P had a whisper that would have drowned out the sounds of an air exercise at RAF Lyneham, and which was but a few decibels less loud than the parade-ground power of her speaking voice).  ‘Yes.  Actions that were unacknowledged.  Quite.  And of course cannot be acknowledged.’

Lady P was clearly thinking in terms of Porton Down and Winterbourne Gunner, Boscombe Down, Shrivenham, and indeed Chicksands.  Geoffrey Sloper, by contrast, was thinking in terms of the Wizarding war of which his nephew Jack had given but a few tantalising hints, and of which he knew Harry to have been the greatest hero.

‘Well.  We needn’t go into that.  It’s simply that our wish, to memorialise some old comrades in an unobtrusive way –’

The vicar could be seen to mutter, soundlessly, and with evident irony, ‘unobtrusive’, but Harry ploughed on.

‘—Well, I’m afraid we got a bit over-enthused.  We don’t at all wish to push ourselves forward in any way –’ the vicar’s snort, this time, was perfectly audible – ‘but we should very much like to come to some compromise here if we can, to the benefit of all, in order to fulfil that hope of having an appropriate memorial to our old comrades.’

‘I like the cut of your jib – both your jibs,’ said Lady P, roundly, and not for the first time.  Martin Vizard perked up, hopeful that this meant he was getting his three new organs after all, and Geoff Sloper did smile, this time, knowing full well a foregone conclusion when he saw one.

Of course, the rest of the PCC and the choir were waiting to be given a lead (and waiting, in fact, not on Lady P, but on the level-headed Geoffrey Sloper, although no one was rash or unkind enough to point that out to Lady P), and Mr Sloper’s smile was lead enough.

There was a certain amount of further clerical waffling, not least because Call-me-Bill had now managed to convince himself that these ‘old comrades who fought and died in secret warfare’ were somehow connected with Iraq and intelligence work and all the things that the Guardian and the Independent instructed him to disapprove, over breakfast at the Vicarage every day; but, in the end, a face-saving formula emerged whereby an appeal for funds would be made for the Frobenius organ, with an announcement of matching grants and underwriting by Anonymous Donors, and those Anonymous Donors would then, at the conclusion of the appeal, also – quite unexpectedly – present the parish with a traditional example of the best English organ design and with a Baroque choir organ.

 

Of course, within five minutes of the meeting’s breaking up, everyone in the village and the surrounding district knew perfectly well what three pipe-organs St Mary’s was to have, and who the less-than-anonymous-donors were, and the memorial impulse behind the donation.  That was village life, after all; but the appearances had been saved, and no one was at all put out with Draco and everyone was very pleased with Harry, and that, too, is village life, all over.

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Comments
From: lunaedraconis Date: July 3rd, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cantab, to his everlasting shame

oh how unkind! :p
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

No, no, you're quite right.

He's probably too thick to be ashamed.

I'll make it, 'to his everlasting discredit', shall I?
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: July 5th, 2006 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: No, no, you're quite right.

Given that I have yet to meet a Tab who was ashamed of it, I think you'd better!

Tree and Leaf, who was once told by a Cambridge man that she was 'more the Oxford type'. This baffled me at the time, but I think he was correct.
serriadh From: serriadh Date: July 8th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: No, no, you're quite right.

'More the Oxford type'
What do you think he meant by that? I just wonder because I'm at Oxford and have friends both here and at Cambridge and I think there probably is a 'type'. (we're cleverer, for a start.)

SS

Sorry, Wemyss, for crashing your journal. I came to you through Ajhalluk's friends' page.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 8th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not at all.

Delighted to have you here. Welcome to Bedlam (which at least is superior to being welcomed to Wadham).
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 8th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's a compliment.

And well-deserved.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: July 3rd, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh Draco. Poor vicar. As entertaining as always.

Am not going to comment on the implied Grauniad-bashing, though... ;)
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: July 4th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Am not going to comment on the implied Grauniad-bashing, though... ;)

Ditto - we card carrying woolly liberals should stick together :-).

Draco's over-enthusiasm. Harry exercising his inner Slytherin.

The vicar doesn't stand a chance.

MM
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

No chance at all.

Least of all once Aunt Andy meets Lady P.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: July 5th, 2006 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)

I am even wearing sandals as I type.

No beard, though :)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

God help Call-me-Bill.
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: July 4th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
*mad cackling*

And now for the Idiot Yankee Questions!

Let's see... What's an RNLI? Or a Concert Society? Or a Conservative Association? Or WI and the MOther's Union? And what are Nonconformists?

MA? Cantab? DD? Why's he ashamed?

sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: July 4th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Idiot Yankee Questions

Don't ask. Just drift downstream on the flow of the language, and it'll come to you.

Junior League, Ivy League, Church Ladies, Knights of Columbus, Neighborhood Watch...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Drifting slowly downstream...

... Is that a weir I hear?

Thanks, love.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah.

RNLI?
An important charity, to say the least: the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Even inland counties such as Wilts have branches.

Or a Concert Society?
Culture, darling, culture.

Or a Conservative Association?
The local Tory party organisatiob.

Or WI and the Mother's Union? And what are Nonconformists?
Women's Institute, the Mums's Union, both important charitable and civic groups for the-ladies-God-bless-them.
Nonconformists are those people who have the misfortune to belong to denominations other than the Church of England and who aren't the socially superior sort of Roman (e.g., a Howard).

MA? Cantab? DD? Why's he ashamed?
Master of Arts and Doctor of Divinity. Cantab is Cambridge. Thus the shameful character of it all.
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: July 5th, 2006 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)

*more giggling*

I love you, too.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: July 4th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Bill-the-Vicar ('Vicars oughtn’t to be called that, or wish to be,' Draco had often complained)..."

Monsignor Fennessy was always in such a fog of age and (it was said) alcohol that he wouldn't have notice if he had been addressed as "Father Dennis", but the very idea of even thinking of the Rev. Matthias A. Lynch as "Father Matt"!!

But that was back in the old Latin-Mass, corporal-punishing-nun Fifties...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 4th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Pin you with a glare, would he have done?

Quite right, too.
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