A horrid, but appealing character

The vicar was a soppy thing called Morley. Rather than the Syrup of Figs trick, which I had planned for the wedding, so amusing but effective for only a limited number of hours, I thought the best idea to avert the disastrous forthcoming nuptials altogether was to appeal to Morley’s sense of reason.

The trees were tossing about in the wind; rooks’ nests were being scattered as soon as they were being built, as I got on the old bakelite telephone in the hall.

I said, "Oh Vicar. You don’t know me . This is a friend. I just want to alert you, so that you know: that wedding you are doing on Saturday? Yes, the Charles Dixon Hayes wedding. Well, I happen to have heard, he’s already married. Yes, married in Tanzania. To a brown lady. So unfortunate. A youthful prank in his gap year. But you see, he is still very much married. Yes, so you’d be party to a bigamy if you went ahead with it on Saturday. Me? Oh I’m a friend of the Church of England. Goodbye."

As I pressed the cradle, the telephone connection gave such a loud purr, I thought I might deploy the Syrup of Figs as well. Just for the sheer exuberance of the thing.