Hannah Jones: That’s Just The Way It Is

I ONCE went to chapel on Easter Sunday wearing a dog collar. Not the religious kind to get into the spirit of the thing – an actual dog collar.

On this particular chocolate-infused day off school, I had decided to give my dog a logistically improbable bath in the sink. You know how these things go.

So I took off his collar and instead of putting it to the side, I stupidly put it on.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but at the time choker chains were all the rage and, because my mother wouldn’t get me one, I decided to find my own. Courtesy of the dog.


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So off I went to chapel, blissfully unaware that I was wearing a brown leather collar with a disc revealing my name to be Charlie, with my address and telephone number just in case I got lost. Just like Paddington Bear, but this side of London.

I realised what I’d done during Bible class when Uncle Edmund – no relation – asked me: “What does the name Jesus mean?”

Pausing to reflect on the answer, I put my hand up to my face and, on the way to a contemplative pose, I felt leather.

Then embarrassment.

In a bid to save face, in my mind I channelled my inner Kim Wilde to convince myself that I was the kiddie at the cutting edge of DIY fashion.

That lasted for one bar as I sang Kids In America in my head, until I thought I’d better try and be one of those smart girls who look good and know the answers to Stuff.

“It’s Saviour,” I told Uncle Edmund. “Jesus means Saviour. Not sure of his last name, mind.”

“Very good Hannah,” he said. “How did you know that?”

“Well my grancha has read the Bible from cover to cover and knows everything about it,” I proudly said.

“Oh, is he a very religious man then?” he asked me.

“Nah, just bored I think.”

He wasn’t, of course, just bored. He was unquestioningly religious so when I announced to the family I no longer wanted to go to chapel (rubbish snacks, same old stories), I felt disappointment emanating from the front room.

“You’re not going to chapel any more? You know what that means, don’t you?” grancha asked.

Thinking that he was going to point out that it meant no longer singing discordant hymns, sitting on hard benches and having to reason why Adam didn’t have a mother-in-law, my mother joined in with the clincher to get me back in the pews: “Porthcawl. You’ll miss the chapel outings to Porthcawl on the bus. And you can forget about Easter eggs.”

Needless to say, my U-turn was Olympic.

Try as I might, me and religion go together like a teenage boy and skinny jeans that stay above the bum line.

Every Easter, when my mother puts flowers on graves and starts to get reflective, Sunday dinners tend to end with a gravy sandwich and a moral conundrum.

She wants, you see, to go back to chapel.

It’s a yearning she gets this time of year, a pull towards reasserting her faith.

Because sarcasm is just one of the services to mankind I offer, we run over the same annual reasons why not going will not make her any less of a Christian.

There’s the excuse that my father is a lapsed Catholic whose only religion is bulk-buying bargains; her best friend was thrown out of spiritualist church for throwing salt around the room (the image just makes me shriek with laughter); the last time my ex-landlady mother went to chapel, the sermon just happened to be about the “evils” of drink.

Something about laughing always turning into crying, especially when there’s a few pale ales involved.

Also, I reminded her, she likes to do the talking. And if God talked back, we’d have to gave her sectioned. Then who’d do the cooking?

So for now at least, Easter will come and go like Christmas does – covered in chocolate, lacking in direction and me thanking You Know Who for making me an agnostic.

That said, I’m thrilled that for Mam Jones, God will forever be tied up with her notion of love, hope, charity, comfort and joy, even when not practised religiously on a Sunday.

But I’ve told her to make sure she gets all that in writing.

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/columnists/2012/04/06/hannah-jones-that-s-just-the-way-it-is-91466-30704671/