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A Fright in the Churchyard

The world can be a funny old place and there are times when we’re all fed up with our lot and moan and yearn for a different life, while not fully appreciating that the life we are living is a good and fulfilling one. As they say the grass always looks greener on the other side. Well our tale this week is here to dispel that myth once and for all. Let it be a cause for reflection that things aren’t always that bad and life is definitely what you make it.

In olden times in Herefordshire villages having a trade was a wonderful thing, but if you were creative or good at making things then you were very sought after. For those who could sew, you could look forward to establishing yourself a lucrative career that would keep the fires burning and plenty of food in your belly. For your skills were valued primarily by the gentry who were keen to keep up appearances by looking fashionable. Regularly new pieces of clothing would be required or perhaps a re-fashioning of a favourite piece. There were however seamstresses and seamstresses, those ranging from the very skilled who had a talent for fine small stitching and those who would blag it and make a right pig’s ear out of it! The best seamstresses did not share their knowledge with anyone, for there was always someone lurking around the corner ready to take your client from you.

In a small Herefordshire village lived a very sickly child, the Doctor had not given him long to live and his Mother being the protective type had decided that given the child’s years were to be only a few, he would not be subjected to any type of hard graft. Even though his Father had insisted upon it, she shielded him from the agricultural world and behind the scenes taught him how to sew instead. The times they spent together were wondrous, the child had inherited the dexterity of his Mother along with her skill of needlework, she was very proud of all that he achieved in such a short space of time. However they were never allowed to discuss their clandestine workmanship outside of their own bubble as his Father would not have approved, he deemed sewing was women’s work. Being a woman of fortitude and seeing the child’s potential, his Mother secured him an apprenticeship with the local tailor. The tailor was extremely impressed with the child’s work and saw a money making machine so hired the child on the spot.

And so began a life of loneliness for the child, long working days, blistered fingers and little appreciation. Over time the isolation of work had rendered the now young man friendless as his peers were working the fields and as for meeting a woman this was tricky too. As you can imagine a man who was intimately conversant with another woman’s under garments was treated with suspicion and given a wide berth.

Having outdone the predictions for his survival and seeing both his Mother and Master shuffle off this mortal coil, the young man inherited the business and a home. At this point in his life he had a lot to be thankful for, but in reality he felt empty. He should had felt accomplished and proud but instead felt resentful. He had no friends, no wife or life outside of his work. In full rebellion mode he decided that he was not crouching over a candle stitching each night but would venture down the pub and enjoy some revelry instead. There he made ‘friends’ or so he thought, his money and willingness to spend it were an attraction that some could not resist. All of this drinking and merriment however started to have an effect on his work, he was behind on tasks, late with deliveries and his reputation was in jeopardy. How many times have we heard this story. You strive to have all you desire but it’s still not enough or so it seems!

As the young man staggered home from the pub one evening he mulled over his dilemma, he knew that he had a lot to do and vowed to make an early start and get some of the jobs finished. It wasn’t right to keep the housekeeper at Croft Castle waiting for her curtains. As he ventured home he decided to take a short cut through the grave yard. It probably wasn’t a wise decision in his drunken state as trying to navigate the graves proved quite tricky.

As he approached the church something caught his eye. A white spectre was moving towards him through the graves, grunting and snuffling. The young man thought his time was up and took off running. What did this ghostly apparition want of him? As he ran through the graveyard, his legs felt like jelly, they just wouldn’t move fast enough. Until the moment where he suddenly felt as light as a feather, floating through the air. Then he hit the hard earth with a bang as he fell into a freshly dug open grave. As he drifted into unconsciousness he knew then that the ghostly spectre would claim him. But no! His ale addled mind had tricked him, the ghostly white spectre turned out to be a sheep. Sheep were commonly used in churchyards to keep the grass down and this one was happily doing that when the young man had disturbed it.

The next morning the Rector was heading to church when he heard moaning coming from an empty grave. Not one to be deterred he found the young man languishing at the bottom looking worse for wear and speaking gibberish. He told the Rector that he was pleased to meet an angel and looked forward to being in heaven. Upon which the Rector curtly told him to get out of the grave as he had a funeral that very morning and with that admonishment delivered, promptly turned on his heels, let out a large tut and was gone.

As the young man’s focus and faculties returned he realised that he was still alive and very relieved not to be dead after all. He returned home a changed man, his close shave had refocused him. No longer did he seek out the high life but went on to live a long and rewarding one instead, thanking his lucky stars for the opportunities that life had given him. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

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