Father Allen loved the Diocesan Walks. Cynics might have said that he enjoyed the company of Sister Sarah and Sister Shirley. If they ever had opportunity to lay eyes on the three of them, they would quickly realise what brought them together was a dry sense of humour – a humour so dry that it kept company with the flask of gin under Father Allen’s cassock.
The ruse was quite simple. To get ahead of the party, they would take a short cut and find a quiet spot for Father Allen to fill his stirrup. “Ladies,” he would say, “it’s about time for a spot of Hendricks.”
“It is indeed fortuitous I have the tonic with me,” Sister Shirley would say.
At which Sister Sarah would produce a lemon and pen knife from her voluminous skirts.
The day in question it was rather warm so they had doubled their supplies in anticipation of a second pit stop at a bus shelter.
Progress after the first stop was decidedly unsteady. Indeed, Father Allen got left behind. When he came to the bus shelter, the two nuns were nowhere to be seen.
Father Allen was in need of swig of gin to make sense of it all when he noticed there was a door at the back of the shelter. “Those naughty girls, they must be out the back!”
He pushed through the door and found himself in a magical clearing. There they were, giggling!
“Come on, Father! Where’s the gin?”
“Hang on one second!”
He walked through a tree and back into the bus shelter, which was now full of the great and the good of the Diocese.
“Father, where have you been?”
“Away with the fairies!”
He slipped the gin back in his pocket and went back through the door.
“I can’t understand where he’s got to,” said the Bishop. “I’ll call the police.”
“He’s with the sisters,” said the Deacon. “What harm can he come to?”