Once upon a time, I was in church, attending a funeral. I may as well confess beforehand that I’m not much of a church-goer and, when I can’t help going, I have this tendency to wander off in my head…
But this time I’m telling you about was the funeral of a dear friend’s father, and I’d resolved to pay attention – at least a little. Only, I was late, so in the end I found myself standing in the back of a very crowded church, one I’d never entered before, trying hard to listen to the parson. Well, after a while I happened to notice some saint’s statue standing by the altar, all the way across the church. It was not an especially beautiful, or even old statue – but it was peculiar: the saint, whoever he was, wore a flimsy, short-sleeved shirt, and… trunk hose?
I blinked and squinted, trying to see better – but yes, there they were: bronze-coloured trunks, under what looked like a baby-blue t-shirt. Well, now – that was downright bizarre.
My mind being twisted the way it is, my first thought was: Elizabethan saint?
My second thought was: how strange, though… because I’d believed most Elizabethan saints had been Jesuit missionaries à la Edmund Campion: why the definitely eccentric attire instead of, say, a black cassock?
And that was when most people would have heard the Voice of Reason – and, in truth I thought I’d heard it too, reminding me that there had been a good length of 16th Century, before good King Henry decided he was fed up with his Spanish wife… Yes, I know: definitely not the Voice of Reason.
The Voice of Reason actually arrived a heartbeat later, while I was frowning at the statue, and trying to remember when exactly the fashion of trunk-hose had emerged…
“Clara, wee lamb, you are aware that this is not England, are you?” it asked. “This is Italy, where churches mostly sport the statues of Italian saints…” Is the Voice of Reason this sarcastic with you too, I wonder?
Ah well, sarcastic – but definitely right. Of course. And it was good news, on the whole: not as a realisation that I’m slightly unhinged, but because an Italian saint meant a huge range of possibilities – not that this made the statue less peculiar, because really, what had that blue shirt to do with the hose–
And as I happily fell down the rabbit-hole of this new train of thought – that’s exactly when the man standing before me shifted his weight. Not much – just enough to allow me to see that the hose-trunks were not hose-trunks at all. It was the bobbed hair-do of a small brown-haired lady, standing right in my line of sight of the statue. And thanks to perspective…
By then, the Voice of Reason was giggling unashamedly, while I was working very hard at keeping a straight face, because really… And truth be told, I was also the tiniest bit disappointed by the loss of the hose-trunk. When I unburdened myself to a relative, later, he assured me there was no cause whatever for disappointment: true, the statue of a bizarrely dressed saint might have been picturesque – but wasn’t a madwoman enjoying Elizabethan semi-hallucinations in the middle of a funeral a good deal better?