I met up with Jed down at the Swinging Abbey. He was already a beer ahead and immediately started waxing lyrical before I’d even sat down.
“I’ve been thinking about religion,” he said. “Me and the missus went cycling on the weekend and we went past the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. There were all these women coming out after mass, or whatever it is they have, masses of them. I said to my wife, I’m thinking of become a Jehovah’s Witness. All these women in high heels and short skirts and suspenders! You wouldn’t see that in the Church of England! I tell you, I’m seriously thinking about becoming religious.”
I didn’t think anything of it. Pub talk. We had a few more rounds and talked about the footy.
But then Diane, Jed’s wife, gave me a call. “You’ve got to talk to Jed about this religion nonsense. He’s thinking of becoming a Jehovah’s Witness!”
“Why me?” I said. “Can’t you convince him it’s daft?”
“I’ve already tried, but he won’t listen. I said to him, ‘We don’t even have a bloody bible! We were married in the Botanic Gardens! You can’t just suddenly take on a religion just because of a nice pair of legs.'” Diane and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but I agreed with her on this one.
So I arranged to meet Jed down at the Abbey for a pint that night.
“I know what you’re going to say,” he said, as soon as I walked in the door. “I know that Diane is trying to stop me from joining the Fellowship but you won’t do any good.”
“All right, Jed. Let’s go through this slowly. Why Jehovah’s Witness? Is it the women?”
Jed looked into his pint. “It’s the women,” he said. “You should’ve seen em.”
“Look, if it means that much to you, maybe you can ask Diane to, you know, dress up a bit sometimes.”
Jed was mortified. “I don’t want her to wear those things! That would be weird!”
I didn’t understand so Jed elaborated. “Imagine spending your Sunday morning surrounded by religious women, dressed like that and praying!” His eyes rolled back in his head in what seemed to be some sort of rapture.
I looked at him and sipped my beer. He was head over heels in love with this idea. I had to do things just right.
“And not just Sundays, either,” I said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays, too. You’ll know the bible inside out soon enough.”
“Yeah, I sometimes think I should know the bible better,” he said, returning from his reverie. “And a bit of praying don’t hurt anybody, does it? At least, not in that company. And… wait, did you say Thursdays?”
“Poker night Thursdays?”
“Yep. Well, you’ll have to give that up anyway. No gambling. No drinking either, now that I think of it,” I said, taking a swig of beer. “Except in moderation.”
“Really?” he said, looking forlornly at his empty pint. “No gambling? No more booze?”
“But those women. That’s not a religion! That’s torture!”
“All religion is, mate,” I said. “It’s all right. I’ll get the next round.”
Later on I popped in to the Ol’ Kingdom to give my condolences to Barney.
“You nearly got that one, Barnes,” I said, sitting opposite him at the long communal table. “It was a bit below the belt with the enticing women, but a nice touch.”
Barney loosened his tie and took a sip of his port. “Oh well, just doing my job. One at a time, you know. One at a time.”
We both looked over at the leaderboard. The Christians were clearly in the lead, but my tally was catching up. It took vigilance but, as Barney said, one at a time.