I could see a church spire up ahead. Excellent, I thought, as I made my way along the street towards the church. I stopped across the road to observe the place for a moment.
“The Lord Will Provide”
The noticeboard proclaimed.
And He did.
This was a catholic church. Or, a sort of Catholic church. In fact, it was a Friary.
These Holy Orders had made a big comeback recently. The very religious finding solace away from the reality of modern Britain. Several hundred had sprung up, just in the last few years. Their religious and charitable status gave many, many advantages.
Ch 30 – Going to Church.
Eat what you want. Drink what you want. No TV and no internet. So the endless yak of the news could be avoided. Some of these Orders were veneer thin in their observance of their Holy Duties. They were really just tax havens. But they all had to have a serious and historical religious foundation. The authorities kept a very watchful on them all. So they had to pay a lot more than just lip service to their charity work. If they wanted the tax breaks and benefits for being a registered charity.
They needed to follow Holy Scriptures and teachings. But exactly how these teaching were practiced, was done with, shall we say, a wide degree of freedom.
This Church looked to me like it sat somewhere in the middle of the pack. It had distinct religious aspects to it. And its acolytes dressed in the conventional clothing of their order. Though not necessarily in the way that their God originally intended.
A nun was bringing out a box from inside the ancient stone building. She carried it carefully down the steps. Not wanting to trip. The large box was obscuring her view of the steps and she couldn’t use her hands holding the item to steady herself.
She made it down and moved across onto a small lawn, close to the iron railings of the boundary and beside the open iron gate.
The sign at the entrance read
“Blackfriars. Dominican Order of the Mendicant’s of Europe. Est 1321.
The nun wore black. As she was of the Dominican Blackfriars sect. If they had been Franciscan, they would have had to dress in grey. And be based at Greyfriars.
The woman called something I couldn’t hear to someone else inside the church. She placed her box down on a table and put her hands on her back and stretched. There were already a number of boxes on the tables on this side lawn. She had been carrying quite a few down already, this morning. She called out again. She had a light voice. That didn’t carry to where I was across the street. I could see her well enough though. Her make up and attire led me to believe that this Friary wasn’t entirely as strict on the dress code as their twelfth century sisters had been.
This was confirmed when a second nun came through the door and easily bounded down the steps with her lighter box. Which she left on a different table.
This lady was taking quite a few liberties with her attire. This was going to be quite an open order. The rules about the total separation of the males and females probably took a bit of a reinterpretation too.
“Boxes for the Homeless” read a banner that was blowing gently in the morning breeze. It had been attached to the edge of some of those decorator tables. The cardboard boxes were placed on part the banner on the tables anchoring it firmly.
A second “The Lord Will Provide” statement hung from another.
I hoped these were boxes of goods for the homeless. And not empty boxes for them to use to shelter in. Since the Greta Goddess had decreed all paper was sin, finding cardboard had become very difficult.
“Take what you need…but need what you take” was written on each cardboard box.
The Nuns made their way back up the steps and inside the friary. They shut the heavy blue door behind them Their work done. I walked over the road and went to the boxes. It was clear from water marks that some of these boxes had been out here longer than others.
Thankfully, when I peered into them, they were all at least half filled with a collection of clothes and oddments that the virtuous gave to the needy.
Some, on the furthest table, were also filled with empty sandwich wrappers, bottles and crisp packets that the less virtuous discarded in them to avoid the 5p ‘bin use tax’ the Mayor had brought in.
It was crappy stuff inside. Real ‘Goodwill’ items. Too poor of a quality even for the online trash site, Zeebay.
I rummaged around. Hoping to be done before the nuns came back. On a different occasion I would have liked to have spoken with them. If only on a male fantasy level. But not now. I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
I found a plain white M&S shirt that was my size and in decent enough condition.
Frayed from use rather than soiled. There was a good suit jacket in there as well. But when I looked at the label I saw it was going to be way to small. Only of use as a prop to carry.
My own suit trousers and jacket were black in colour. So the blood didn’t show at any distance. They would do for now. I took a tie from the next box. It looked like a school tie, but it would do.
I only needed to look, at least from a distance, like a typical city worker as I made way north, across the bridge and into the actual London Blackfriars district.
There was an old, cheap wristwatch in another box. Silver plate flecked off the case and the strap fraying at the luggs. But it was all I’d need to tell the time with, now my expensive Fit-Byte smart watch was at the bottom of the river. I also wanted a bag of some description.
The first one I pulled out was a babies nappy bag. With what smelled like some nappies still in it. The second box along was better. A tablet case. With a pink unicorn design on a yellow cover.
Perfect. If I could find some garish glasses I’d look like an I.T. hipster, on his way to work, overcompensating for being male and straight and white.
The magnetic catch was missing. But that didn’t matter. I was never going to put anything into the case. I could hold it closed as I carried it.
I picked up a sandwich packet. Tore it in half and folded up the cardboard packaging into a rectangle shape and put it into my trouser pocket.
I changed hurriedly. Dropped my own bloody shirt and my tie into the box, and changed into the other one. I searched through the boxes, aware time was pressing on me. There were a pair of blue framed reading glasses. Not as star shaped, glitter, Elton John style, as I’d hoped, but they would do. I popped the lenses out and put the frames into my pocket. There was also another bonus here. A packet of gel cigs. With five still in it. Someone had decided to quit and thrown them in here..
I took one of the Gellerettes from the pack and put the rest into my pocket. I wasn’t really a smoker at all. Certainly not of these, what were essentially, sweets with a nicotine hit in the final third. They were very, very sickly. And lighting one up in a street would cause a major panic from health conscious Millennials. But I felt I had earned something. They were self igniting, so I scratched the tip along the metal rail and moved away from the churchyard, prepared to get myself off the streets as quickly as possible.