I was given a choice at ten years of age of either joining the boy scouts or becoming an altar boy. I figured I'd be buggered either way (OK - bad joke!) and I'm not sure exactly why (maybe a gentle bit of persuasion from my mother), but I made the decision to follow the holy path of righteousness.
The expression for a priest is that he "says" Mass (a service) and an altar boy "serves" Mass. So my duties involved "serving" Mass at 7:30am once a week and again on Sunday anywhere between 7:30am and 5pm. This duty was handed out like shift work at a supermarket and if you didn't show up for a good reason you had the potential to be damned to the fiery depths of hell or worse.
If you played your cards right you could get the 'golden cow' shift of serving at a wedding on Saturdays where the dizzy couple would leave an envelope with $$$ for all concerned i.e. an envelope for the priest, another for the altar boys (up to 5 punts = u$d10) and another for the sacristan etc.
The problem was, not everybody knew who the sacristan was or what he did. He is basically an admin assistant to the priest and does a fair chunk of the prep work for the wedding. Many times the dizzy happy couple would forget this poor shlep with the magic envelope.
After about 10 of these weddings, young inspector 'Paddy in BA' started to notice a similar pattern in the hand writing of the envelopes for the altar boys. Same handwriting for each one over several months - hmmmm.... same measly donation = 1 Irish punt = approx u$d2 compared to the 5 Irish punt norm.
In true 'Cluedo' style, I deduced that Mr Sacristan was switching the envelopes from the happy generous couple for his own less generous ones in the sacristy with a thieving conniving contempt for us altar boys.
I couldn't contain my disgust anymore. Did these people really think I was giving up half my Saturday for the the good of the holy church? - Hell No! = I wanted KA-CHING baby!
I left three of Mr Sacristans envelopes on the notice board in the changing rooms with the addition of....
"ALTAR BOYS WANT MORE MONEY!
p.s. how come the last three envelopes I got, have the same handwriting?"
As many of you are probably aware - Catholics don't take kindly to non conformers (think Spanish Inquisition) and so it came to pass that I was cast out of the holy order of the altar boys (no joke!)
Lucifer himself (with horns and tail) and I meet up for coffee on Tuesdays and Thursdays and reminisce about how - there but for the grace of god - the world was our oyster.
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