– Six eight six four two four three.
– Hello, Carol. Is that you?
– Oh, hello Mary. Yes. I’d been expecting a call from you. I thought you said you were going to ring last night.
– Yes, I know, but I had so many things to do what with the meeting and everything that I just never got round to it.
– That’s all right. How are you, anyway?
– Fine thanks.
– And Andrew?
– Oh he’s fine, too. Very busy though.
– Aren’t we all!
– Yes, I know. It’s terrible. I just never seem to have a moment to spare these days.
– Although I must admit that I did have a nice break on Sunday afternoon. Andrew and I drove out to Burford to see his aunt.
– Burford. Well, you know, it’s in the Cotswolds.
– Yes. I didn’t catch the name. This line’s not very good, is it?
– No. They seem to get worse each time they put the phone charges up. What are yours like? Ours were dreadful last time. Andrew was furious. I think he thinks I spend half my time on the phone chatting to friends; but as I told him I don’t go making trunk calls out of working hours about the firm’s business and forgetting to charge it up to them.
– No, I know. These men.
– But I was telling you about the trip to Burford.
– Oh yes. It was a lovely afternoon, wasn’t it?
– Mm. It was. I haven’t enjoyed a drive so much for ages. We went along the M4 to Reading and then to Newbury and from Newbury to Swindon and then up through Lechlade to Burford.
– That was a long way round.
– Yes, I know. But we had plenty of time you see. There was nothing to stop us getting away right after church…
– Oh I saw you there. That sermon!
– Don’t remind me. Well, anyway, we leapt into the car as soon as we came out of church and dashed off. And we didn’t have to get back until late, so we thought we’d take the chance and see a bit of countryside for a change.
– You lucky thing. It’s ages since we drove anywhere for pleasure. It’s either work or shopping or running someone to the tube when it’s late and you’d rather not bother, and so on.
– Well, this is what happens to us most of the time; and that’s what made Sunday so nice. And we stopped for lunch on the way at that place just past Reading on the Bath Road…
– Oh I remember, nice place. Bit twee but the food’s good and at least it’s got clean loos.
– Yes. So we had a nice lunch there and then carried on to Burford. She is a dear old thing you know.
– Oh yes, Andrew’s Aunt. She must be getting on now. How old is she? I remember the last time I saw her she was in her seventies and that was at least five years ago.
– She’s over eighty now.
– Is she really?
– Yes. And she’s still as sprightly as ever. You should have seen the way she dashed round and got tea for us when we got there. And she’d cooked most of the things herself. Even baked the bread. I’d forgotten what home-made bread tasted like; and I’m afraid we made pigs of ourselves on her home-made jam and cakes.
– Well, we stayed there chatting until about eight and then drove back. Got in, er I think it was half eleven.
– Well that sounds very nice. Mind you, I expect you needed something like that to help you to get over that sermon. It was a bit of a bore, wasn’t it?
– A bit of a bore! I’ll say it was. He did spin it out a bit, didn’t he?
– You can say that again! I don’t wonder the congregation’s falling off. Pity, really, because he’s so good in other respects.
– Yes, he’s done wonders with that fund for the Church Hall extension. He was telling me it’s up to three thousand pounds, or will be by the end of the month after the returns from the next function. But as for his sermons…
– They are deadly! But I suppose it’s easy to complain.
– Well yes. But do you know what I’d do if I had to give one?
– Well, I’d write it in ordinary English to start with, and leave out all those pompous phrases — all that «sacramental life» and «corporate worship» and those «absolute victories» and things.
– Mm, I suppose so; but in a lot of cases they’re expected of you. You have to say things like that or nobody would know you were giving a sermon.
– Perhaps you’re right. But talking of sermons, I’d better ring off now before I start preaching to you. I’m sure you’ve got things to do. But listen, you’re supposed to be coming to tea on Thursday, aren’t you?
– Yes. I’ll be along about three. That all right?
– Yes, that’s lovely. See you then. Bye Carol.
– Bye bye. Give my love to Andrew.
– I will. Bye.