It was that time of year again, and preparations were already under way for the fete, on the green,
in the picturesque village of Wapping Cumhardy in South Western England.
Under normal circumstances the Reverend Michael Stott would have taken all this in his more
than ample stride, but this year he suspected things were going to be a little different, and so he
was on tender hooks. The Bishop of the diocese and his wife would be making a formal visit.
The Bishop didn’t often make himself available for these types of events, and Rev Stott was very
keen to take the opportunity to make a suitable positive impression, and maybe in the process
enhance his chances of progressing another notch up the Anglican Church hierarchy.
The fete was to start with a speech by the Bishop, followed immediately by a buffet meal bought
out of church funds.
The Rev Stott’s wife would be in attendance. She was an eternally happy, round faced woman,
having the natural grace and patience to deal with her husbands unpredictable and sometimes
slightly devious tendencies. Also being an excellent cook, she would be making the eagerly
anticipated contribution of her sweet orange meringue pies.
‘There was nothing like them this side of heaven’, was her husband’s set piece remark whenever
the subject was brought into conversation.
That very day Mrs Stott had sent him down town with strict instructions to buy oranges at the
supermarket, to replenish her dwindling supply.
On the high street he had passed a small shop with fruit displayed in cardboard boxes on the
sidewalk. An Indian man in a turban had came out to greet him.
“ Velly nice sweet ollange, sirrr. Cheap too” He said.
“So I see” muttered Rev Stott, eyeing the price tag.
He rolled a couple of oranges in his hands for a moment, then bought two bags full and headed
home, smiling happily at having saved money over supermarket prices.
The big day arrived. The marquees were erected. ‘Bowing for a Pig’ took pride of place among
the side- shows. The main tent was lined with chairs and tables for the meal. A lectern had been
set in place from which the Bishop could give his speech and declare the fete open.
Twenty minutes before the official opening time, the Bishop and his wife arrived on schedule.
The Bishop’s wife stepped ostentatiously from the car. She wore a full length chiffon dress
embroidered with pink angel-like figures. On her head a wide brimmed straw hat, adorned with
an assortment of artificial plastic fruit. Her pronounced retrousse’ nose and high cheek bones,
accentuated the air of superiority that she effortlessly exuded.
Mrs Stott, not having seen the Bishop’s wife before, stared disbelievingly.
The Bishop himself elevated his wife to a position only one step short of deity, and always ran to
cater to her every whim.
Not that this had gone unnoticed with the Rev Stott. In fact he had concluded that to make a
good impression on the Bishop’s wife, might pay bigger dividends than impressing the Bishop
himself, and had decided to make this his priority for the rest of the day.
The crowd was ushered into the eating area. The Bishop gave his speech and formally declared
the fete open. The menu: hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries, followed by an assortment of
fresh fruit and fruit pies.
Everyone was being happily fed. The pies were cut, the Bishop’s wife receiving an impressively
large slice of orange meringue, on the special recommendation of Rev Stott himself.
The Bishop looked on admiringly as his wife, smiling charitably, sank her incisors deep into the
The smile quickly dissolved. She stood up, her face now frozen. She gagged and gave an
almighty cough, and with almost rocket precision ejected a large lump of partially masticated pie
into the lap of an old lady sitting opposite. At the same time her hat fell forward over her eyes,
causing a large bunch of shiny black grapes to fall into the punch bowl, and disappear from view
under the bright red liquid.
The rest of the afternoon didn’t go as Rev Stott had meticulously planned, and the Bishop left
The following day Rev Stott went down town for groceries. He passed the shop where he had
purchased the oranges. There was the box in the same place, but now next to it a small notice
‘ Very medicinal, nice BITTER ORANGES, cheap’.
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