Cockleshells and Winkles Report, April 2018

Cockleshells and Winkles have been the names of our two Sunday School groups. We would meet in church and ‘bowl’ down to the village hall for our activities. By ‘bowl’ I mean some of the children would run, rather too headlong at speed for my peace of mind, to be at the village hall before Vicky and me. Since the village hall has been refurbished, their conspiratorial aim has been to try to crack the four digit code for the key box. They have never managed that, but their optimism was a wonder to behold.

Our activities have been on Christian themes, albeit sometimes obscure, but always we hope interesting and fun. They have ranged from: learning about the exterior and interior of our church, which included a climb up the winding dusty belfry steps to see the church’s wonderful birdcage clock; to studying the parables, with children writing some fantastic modern versions, such as the good Samaritan being a rich Arab who rescues a white man visiting the church, who was being taunted by skate boarding stoned grungers; to the ten commandments, when we wrote our own eleventh commandment, to be stewards of the earth for future generations; to glueing cotton wool sheep in the Winkles group, to illustrate the parable of the lost sheep; to decorating Easter biscuits with so much icing in such lurid colours as could trigger a medical emergency in the less robust; to, on particularly sunny days, bouncing on the trampoline for joy. Joy being in the Bible too!

Numbers for Sunday school have dwindled as the children have got older and moved on, as they must. When I talk to people about being a Sunday School teacher, I am often conscious that a variety of stereotypes spring to their minds, not all voiced. As I sit writing this about Sunday School, I want to say that Vicky and I are not saintly, nor boring, nor insomniacs up early on Sunday mornings, nor in want of anything else to do, nor Bible thumping, we have just had the best of times with a lot of interesting, lively, and at times, very funny children and young people. In tribute to them over the years, I have devised a quiz for my readers, which may be the children and young people now grown up, or mums and dads, who are in truth, more likely to be reading this in church or in the village newsletter. So here goes:

  1. Who played Mary in an early Nativity play and instead of riding into Bethlehem on a donkey, was unceremoniously wheeled to the Inn in a pram with a pink plaster cast because, a director’s nightmare, she had broken her leg in the weeks before the play?
  2. Who could look angelic and was able to roll his eyes, presumably to heaven, to such effect that he made everyone laugh and so never ever had to answer the questions put to him in Sunday School?
  3. Who could carry the most number of bourbon biscuits in one hand, and later went on to ring bells for church and design our mug, celebrating a centenary of bell ringing?
  4. Which two children did guest appearances as Mary and Joseph one year, looking so tanned, they were very convincing, where had they been?
  5. Which two children played David Beckham and Ryan Giggs in the play, ‘We are clean out of Frankincense’?
  6. Who was able to answer more questions about ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’ than anybody else, child and adult?
  7. One day when we were finishing a Sunday School, someone asked what we would be doing the next time. Who was it who got excited when I said we would be doing the parable of the ten virgins, and ran into church to tell waiting parents we were doing the ten vikings next?
  8. Who challenged the play script one year, questioning the gender of the roles given, and ended up playing a very creditable sister of the prodigal son in ‘The prodigal son comes home at Christmas’?
  9. Who had lots of suggestions for roles in the play, and managed his disappointment over not being spider man?
  10. Who decided in a dress rehearsal, her role was a grumbling chambermaid in the Inn, to announce that she wouldn’t be playing that role in the play, ‘from now on I am going to be Barack Obama’?
  11. Who used to correct our football facts and won the competition, one particularly warm autumn, to swat flies in the village hall and get the greatest number of blood splats on a rolled up play script?
  12. Who always wanted the red felt tip pens so much, that whenever we did colouring in, there were never any in the tub, they were all concealed about his person?
  13. Who was really great at learning his lines and projecting his voice as a shepherd in a play, and still looked handsome while wearing a tea towel on his head?
  14. Which initially quiet boy put on a great performance as Dermot O’Leary in ‘The X Factor Final at Christmas’?
  15. Who fell to the floor in a dress rehearsal and declared ‘I can’t go on’, but was revived from his heap on the floor by a Mars bar, and went on to do really well?
  16. Who got to sit on the font as a punk angel, who was also playing sport in European championships and secured a university place doing geology?
  17. Who watched Rev Stephen Bessent leaving the service before the end, as he had to go to do a service in Cogges, and commented ‘see even he thinks it is boring’?
  18. Who had the smallest handwriting of everyone?
  19. Who wouldn’t rehearse unless he could also commandeer the brush in the village hall and sweep the floor for the duration of every rehearsal?
  20. When we learned about the Israelites in Egypt and the reaction of Moses who killed an Egyptian who struck a slave, who wrote a note as Moses for his mum ‘since I don’t want to die, I am leaving. Hope to see you soon. Moses (he who has a beard).’?
  21. Who said he was practising for his part in ‘Thank you’ by eating biscuits, and showed us he could fit a whole penguin biscuit in his mouth, very impressive?
  22. Who did by far, the best drawings of the ten plagues of Egypt, who went on to do media studies at university, we saw her talent first?
  23. Who isn’t in plays anymore but stands in when people are sick on the day of the play, sorts out props, and helps with lost property, and only complains a bit! Seriously thanks?
  24. Who stole the show as the faithful and amazingly well behaved dog of the farmer, who was the father of the prodigal son and his sister?
  25. Who thinks that hell is parsnip soup, and which adult agrees with her?
  26. Who was the most convincing brooding Simon Cowell in the play about the X Factor?
  27. Who knew more about planes than any of us and came back and made a last minute appearance as the vicar in a play, saving the play on the day, and impressing Rev Andrew Sweeney, who thought he could use him as a ‘stand in’?
As you can see, there are many great memories from Sunday school. I wonder how many of these characters you can name? I promise to reveal all next year, and tell you where they are now in their lives. They are truly impressive young people. Vicky and I count ourselves lucky to have been very briefly in their lives, it has been our privilege and our pleasure.

Anne Peake & Vicky Steemson