The vicar called in to give his weekly talk. This time, as well as a little discourse on everyday Christianity, he told the children about Palm Sunday and the Easter festival, as is his wont before the school breaks up for the Easter holiday.
When he asked for pussy-willow to decorate the church, Joseph Coggs raised an eager, if grimy, paw.
‘I can get a whole lot,’ he said, eyes agleam. ‘If I wriggles through the hedge down the bottom of Miss Parr’s place, there’s a pond and a pussy-willow tree.’
The vicar looked slightly taken aback.
‘But I’m afraid that’s a private tree, Joseph,’ answered the vicar. ‘It belongs to the people who live in the flats there.'
Joseph looked bewildered…
The vicar drew in a sad breath, and very kindly and patiently gave an extra little homily about the sanctity of other people’s property, and the promptings of one’s own conscience, and the eye of the Almighty which is upon us all, even those who are but six years old and are wriggling on their stomachs through the long Fairacre grass.
observations: Today is Good Friday: Easter Sunday will follow.
The village of Fairacre doesn’t change and neither does the schoolteacher, or the vicar, or little Joseph Coggs. CiB explained more about this in an ancient (2 years ago) entry on sewing class at the school – see here. It is easy to mock these gentle stories of village life – I loved them as a teenager, saw later how wrong I was to like them, and now have come to realize their true worth: a look at life in an Oxfordshire village during the second half of the 20th century, and a museum of the values and thoughts and issues that were important to those people at that time. Plus, endless entertainment from the very real stories of the schoolchildren.
For Easter Miss Read will set the children to making Easter cards, expecting:
Easter eggs, chicks and the like… but the most striking use of paper and pencil came from Patrick, who had carefully folded his paper in half to form an Easter card, which he finally presented to me. It showed three large tombstones with crosses, and the letters RIP printed crookedly across them, and inside was neatly printed
The picture is an Easter Sunday School class from Canada in the 1920s, from the Deseronto archives. You can just see the words Christ is Risen on a banner across the top.