burning effigies or exactly why we call them Catherine Wheels but this year decided that I would have a bonfire and a guy for the god-children.
A who is nearly a teenager had much more exciting things to do at the Baptist youth group, so it was left to 9 year old E and 7 year old A to remind me at the end of a tiring day, of my promise and to troop out in the gloom to find the ragged bonfire that I had assembled a couple of weeks ago, and Freda the scarecrow who was to be our ritual sacrifice.
Freda was made out of old clothes, a Primark paper bag, and leaves; lots and lots of leaves. In her prime she was fine and stout. By the end of the summer her head had imploded and her figure had definitely headed south. After two weeks of near constant rain she was also damp, very, very damp, as was the bonfire. With the aid of some shredded paper we did manage to set light to it, and to Freda, but despite all attempts, particularly by A, to poke the fire into some kind of life with cries of "Burn Freda Burn", it never did a lot. Freda's was not a spectacular martyrdom engulfed in flame. She smouldered and gave off a lot of smoke which eventually drove us all back inside.
So that was the end of Freda, or so I thought. We went indoors, had a chat and a cup of tea and eventually all went to bed.
The next day as I made breakfast, I happened to look out of the window. From the bottom of the garden wisps of smoke were rising into the morning air. Freda was STILL burning. Rather a good illustration of many real life Saints I think. Saints like A who has worshipped at St M's for 80 odd years, and joins both the Book of Common Prayer Communion service and the toddler service which precedes it faithfully each week, or B and B and D and D who all play the piano so well for the children and their parents or J who shared her joy of art with all generations until nearly 90.