A few days ago I was unwise enough to volunteer for another 'little' job at St. M's. I'm not sure what kind of idiot that makes me since the most often repeated maxim when I was in the WRAC all those years ago was "never volunteer for anything".
At that time if you were in one of the armed forces, when volunteers were called for, the recommended practice was to keep your head down and play invisible. This usually resulted in anyone daft enough to catch the officer's eye being 'volunteered' to perform some dreary or humiliating task from which there was no rescue.
Since retirement I have done a few things on a voluntary basis including two-and-a-half years as an Adult Literacy teacher, feeding and trapping feral acts to get them spayed/neutered, collecting with a tin for a number of different charities, and since John's death, putting in a few hours in the Parish office of St. M's.
All these things have given me some degree of satisfaction, but as time has passed, energy diminished and options become fewer, I have found the need for more social contact and something to occupy my hands.
Among the considerable list of jobs in the church for whom volunteers are being sought was that of brass cleaning.
Hmmm I thought, doesn't sound too bad, and doesn't involve wet hands (I have eczema), I'll have a go at that.
I should say at this point that St. M's is blessed with some very fine looking candle-holders - I won't call them candlesticks, they're more like trees - and a truly wonderful lectern in the form of an eagle with spread wings. He is a magnificent beast and is known affectionately as, the budgie.
Having turned up in scruffy jeans, knowing I'd be doing a bit of bending and stretching I thought I was all set for a pleasant morning.
"What a mistaka to maka". First of all, he stands on a large round base resting on three lion heads, then the stem has a series of posts and discs all quite large, this then leads up to a globe with ornamental leaves, possibly acanthus, I'm not sure, then the large claws of the budgie rest on this globe his highly decorative feathers start on his legs and are full of intricate detail culminating in his head with curved beak and fierce eyes.
Without piling on the agony further let me say I started at 9.30 and finished at around 11.30 hot sweaty exhausted and with - to my eyes anyway- an only marginally brighter cleaner bird than when I started.
Never again will I, even for one second describe this form of refined torture as a 'bit of brass cleaning' and as for the remainder of the brass - well, it will have to wait till I've re-caffeinated my system sufficiently to tackle the next round.
Someone suggested using a small soft toothbrush for the 'feathers'of the bird, but I fear this might scratch him. If anyone knows of a better way, please let me know.