An Unfortunate Incident on the Way to the Advent Carol Service

Last Sunday, my plan was to attend church in the morning, walk with the village walking group in the afternoon then return to church for the Advent Carol Service which my husband (the organist) was leading.  This would all work nicely, because our church stands less than a quarter of a mile from the village green where the walk began and ended.

So, morning church – tick.  Home for lunch, then off for the walk, wearing coat, scarf, hat, thick socks, wellington boots (ground soggy underfoot), sunglasses (bright sun at 2pm), and (decent) church clothes underneath.  I’d forgotten my walking pole but never mind.  Off we went, a motley group of varying degrees of fitness and walking speeds, including one tiny dog capable of moving ten times faster than her owner.  After an hour, squelching through puddles without my walking pole, I fell flat on the face.  I wasn’t injured, but my coat was plastered in mud down one side, also my (church) trousers, and my hands. 

Very embarrassing.  But, I calculated, the walk would finish at dusk (4pm), so I would have just enough time to drive home (fifteen minutes), wash myself and change my clothes (5 minutes), drive back to church (fifteen minutes), and arrive in time for the Advent Carol Service at 5pm.  I even considered taking a shower. 

But no!  With darkness falling fast around us – even darker for me in sunglasses – we didn’t arrive back from our walk until 4.25pm.  With a sinking feeling as I changed out of my wellies and into my shoes – and just about able to make out the silhouette of the church tower – I realised that I would have to attend the Advent Carol Service just as I was. 

After washing my hands and face in the tiny basin in the church cloakroom, I crept into my usual pew, but was unable to avoid speaking to other people in the congregation.  No one commented on my filthy state.  You are probably wondering if illumination inside the church was a little dim, but, as a member of the PCC, I can tell you that we have recently spent several thousand pounds updating lighting in the church.  My husband, in his (clean) cassock and surplice, nodded at me nonchalantly from the chancel – but when have the men in your life ever noticed what you’re wearing?  The service went ahead, an hour and a quarter of it.  Afterwards I chatted to the choir.  (“Hello Rosemary.  Lovely to see you.”) 

Not one person in that church made a comment about my clothes and the mud.  Did they not notice?  Or were they too polite to comment? 

Then I drove home, in the dark, without glasses, which was marginally safer than wearing sunglasses.

So far, fellow writers, this is a self-deprecating anecdote.  How can I use it in my writing?  Integrate it into a short story?  Would it be as funny in a fictional setting?  Alternatively, could it be referenced in an article in the Christian press, which might make the point that Jesus invites us to come as we are?  Any other ideas? 

If you’d like to use this anecdote, you are welcome to do so.  I’d love to see what you write. 

Rosemary Johnson has had many short stories published, in print and online, amongst other places, Cafe Lit, Scribble, Friday Flash Fiction, The Copperfield Review, Fiction on the Web and 101 Words.  She has also contributed to Together magazine and Christian Writer.  She has also written a historical novel, set in the Solidarity years in Poland.  In real life, she is a retired IT lecturer, living in Suffolk with her husband.


  1. What a great church, Rosemary. They are obviously putting into practice the rule of not judging a person by his outer appearance!

  2. It's so 'terribly English' how no one commented! Rosemary, maybe you should write comedy. This is hilarious!

  3. This is an absolute hoot (although not funny that you fell over). I agree with Sheila and Katherine and there are many more aspects to your muddy appearance. I'd be inclined to go down the humour route (no surprise there) and with your permission, I might even weave this into Isabella 3. The detail about the church lighting is a winner.

  4. I think this proves that a lot of people simply don't notice what you wear - in certain circumstances. Alternatively it proves that other people view us differently to how we view ourselves. And it may be that some of your church friends simply thought your clothing was a fashion statement.

  5. I love this story. Are you normally viewed as a bit eccentric but fairly harmless? I confess to being the world's worst at noticing what people are wearing, so I'd be quite at home at your church.

  6. God works all things for our good. So, a great idea to turn it all in to flash fiction! Pity, you do not have people like me in your church. I would have said, 'Oh my God, Rosemary! Did you fall down or something?'
    Anyway, I think God knows how sensitive you are and kept everyone's mouth and eyes shut as he did for Daniel in the Lion's den! I hope it's okay to laugh out loud now! Blessings!


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