I should perhaps mention here that this is slightly more, erm, adult than my usual fayre. It is, however, tasteful and witty… well, I think so…
Reverend Sibelius Tank was a mild-mannered priest with a penchant for dull sermons and bondage. He met his wife Evelyn at a horticultural show. He felt an immediate attraction when he heard her discussing cultivars and noticed the way she grasped her handbag. Clearly a woman of both firm opinions and grip.
To suggest their affair was passionate would be to overstretch a point, but suffice it to say Reverend Tank became certain of his love when he awoke to find his genitals dusted with hormone rooting powder (which became something of an in-joke between the Reverend Tank and Evelyn) and his left wrist tied to the radiator with an exquisite silk handkerchief printed with fine examples of an unusual blue dahlia. That his right wrist was handcuffed to a water tank and he was trapped for two days, he was prepared to forgive. He was in love.
The Reverend Tank had his living in an inner-city parish that was a dull, drear place famous for the invention of the bicycle spoke and a spicy meat pie called the Roar. The inhabitants had not really taken to his less than fire breathing style of pulpittery – they liked their parsons to add something peppery to their shallow intolerable existences, rather as the pies burned perforations into their anuses.
Sibelius had delicate hands, not sturdy enough for tub thumping and a voice with the carry of wet lettuce. The attendances had dropped from the hundreds during the Reverend Barnes’ Blitzkrieg Bible Classes to little more than a dozen after the disappointment of Tank’s sermon on the theme of Life being akin to a slightly over-ripe mulberry. Possibly expectations were raised when one parishioner remarked on the similarity between the ripe mulberry and a moist vulva, a simile that lacked accuracy if not eroticism. Word had it, in the days leading up to the service, that perhaps the reverend was upping his game. Necessarily the disappointment, when the actual sermon was delivered, was profound.
Evelyn Tank, nee Eustace, was a city girl. She had had a chequered existence, prior to her encounter with the unsophisticated and supplicatory spankee reverend. Her education could perhaps be said to have provided fertile ground for her subsequent dominatrix devotions. Starting at a rule-free prep school she entered into the early pre-pubescent games with gusto. When she moved to her rigorous, bordering on demented, secondary school her willingness to subvert any rules made her popular with her fellows. Sadly, she also fell foul of the ruthless sadists who scoured every corner for girls such as Evelyn. In her four years there she learnt two lessons she took with her. One: that in any situation involving a belt, cane or switch she wanted to be the one holding it; and two: that in the event of a major breach of any rule or convention it is as well to get your facts in first.
On leaving her formal education, Evelyn travelled, acquiring a range of knowledge and equipment that she had some difficulty bringing into England. For two years, Evelyn ran a highly profitable and discreet corrective establishment for the well-connected and morally ambivalent, but the pull of pounding politicians’ posteriors paled progressively. Meeting Tank gave Evelyn the chance of attaining the two things she most desired: a novice keen to be dominated and a certain respectability.
The wedding, which took place the weekend after the failed sermon, was to be a quiet affair. However, with Evelyn determined to get to know the parishioners as quickly as possible, it became a riotous event that almost descended into farce when she tried to teach the local WI to join her in an impromptu dance of the seven veils. Some habits die hard.
The Sunday after the honeymoon and Sibelius was a little under par. His exertions during their short break had left him with a sore back and a trifle chaffed. He did not think he could face donning his robes.
He asked his wife to let the parishioners know he would be incapable of officiating at the Morning Service. Evelyn, however, had other ideas. Not being one to feel bound by conventions, she decided that she would take the service herself. And even though she had no time to prepare a sermon, she was confident she could extemporise.
Evelyn Tank may not have known about the mulberry sermon, but she restored the parishioners’ faith in greengrocery with her talk on the thirteen uses of the cucumber.
Those attending knew that such ‘extras’ would not continue if word reached the reverend. Instead a party was dispatched to suggest to Mrs. Tank that she might like to start some evening classes and, at the same time, try and assist her husband with the chore of sermon writing. She agreed but only if the parishioners ensured attendances at her husband’s sermons grew.
For several months the glow of Sibelius’ countenance, burnished by the praise of his newly enthused parishioners, matched only the sheen of his penis polished by their vigorous love making.
But peaks, while difficult to reach, are also difficult to maintain and Sibelius began to tire of the excesses demanded by his wife, both sexual and spiritual.
By the same token being treated as special and worthy of respect while at the same time capturing the imaginations if not the hearts of a group of locals allowed Evelyn to grow in confidence.
Ideally, she should have fallen pregnant and produced one or more offspring. While Evelyn was not, to most eyes, obvious maternal material, a change of pace was necessary.
But for all Sibelius’ rigour and accommodation, conception was not forthcoming. Doctors and specialists were consulted, tests carried out and, this being the energetic 1960s, modern attempts to cure this deficit sought out. Herbs, yoga, even the occasional oddly shaped contraption, all were pressed into service. Evelyn ingested a series of dubious substances in the pursuit of a gravid state, but still the sperm swum reluctantly and the eggs, unlike their mistress, remained coy.
Evelyn despaired. She had mostly cut her contacts with her former colleagues and friends, but one she retained: an exotic dancer, who also indulged in extras, called Candice with the ability to dislocate both hips during love-making leading one client to describe her, with topological accuracy, as being the only person who was not so much ‘backwards at coming forwards but backwards and forwards when coming’.
Candice listened to her friend’s plight and posited her own solution. ‘Take a lover. Take two. One’s sure to score and is Sibelius the sort of man to notice and, if he does, say anything?’
The 1960s were, by most definitions, a louche decade but even so a parson’s wife cuckholding her husband was far from usual. Still nothing ventured, thought Evelyn.
Evelyn raised the idea at her weekly support group. Its mix of neo-philosophy, cod psychology and pseudo-sociology were a perfect set up for the hypothetical query she posed. And the parishioners, dull and bovine as they may have been, were not beyond some animal cunning. They knew what was being suggested.
As with all arrangements involved in running a church – the flowers, the teas, the cleaning – a rota is required. And it was no surprise when on the notice board by the vestry a rota, headed ‘Vicar’s wife: servicing arrangements’, appeared. The only difference was, for once, it contained the names of the male parishioners.
The venue for these somewhat mechanical trysts was set as the gravedigger’s hut next to the large yew. What it lacked in comfort and facilities it made up for in seclusion. That and a secret hatch into the loft where, in an emergency, whoever was involved in that day’s copulation could hide.
For three weeks, once a day except Sundays and one Saturday when she needed to buy some turpentine, Evelyn took her easel and water colours and set out to capture the mystery and magnificence of the view, once rolling fields but now a supermarket car park and concrete telephone exchange. For those same three weeks a range of local men – short and tall, hairy and smooth, well-endowed and miniscule – appeared. Each was in their way stunned by the beauty of their prize, her brusque sanitation of their privates and the swiftly concluded penetration. Evelyn avoided judging though she noted with a small amount of interest that the fishmonger’s assistant had both an unexpectedly arousing aspect and an unappealing smell.
After the three weeks she had herself checked for venereal diseases and crabs and, found to be clean, she resumed her love making with her husband while she waited.
Seven weeks later she met Candice. ‘Well?’
‘Yes, I’m pregnant.’
‘One or two lovers?’ Candice smirked.
‘I thought about it. If it was one or two someone might say ‘look at his nose, he’s mine’. But with seventeen, well the chances are there would be several versions close enough to fudge the issue.’
‘You really had seventeen different lovers?’
‘A couple might be worth holding in reserve but no, Sibelius is generally enough now I have a child on the way.’
For all her confidence Evelyn did remain concerned. For one thing, in the intervening seven weeks, thirteen of the seventeen had asked if they could ‘have another go’ and of the remaining four, two were dead, one had gone to university and one ended up in hospital with a broken pelvis.
Seeing Candice made up her mind. Evelyn was not a coward. She and Sibelius needed a talk. That evening she met with Sibelius. ‘Darling, I’m with child.’ Sibelius was stunned. He fell to his knees. ‘How did this happen? Is it a miracle?’
‘We prayed, my love, and we’ve been blessed. I daily looked to the Lord to be filled with the Holy Spirit and He met my prayers.’
‘The Lord is good.’ Sibelius kissed his wife. ‘Even if, at times, he smells oddly of fish.’