The Lucky Numbers
A Sunday for the Future
Sunday morning sees Paula takes some further small steps towards becoming a true Reformist woman by locking a black ball gag inside her mouth as the first part of dressing for going to church. She also wraps a large black scarf around her head to cover her lower face, gesturing to Jude that she intends to have it pulled up to cover her eyes outside the church. Then she fits the usual new dense tulle veil on top of the scarf. Finally Jude gets real surprise as Paula gets Susanna to lace a pair of black satin mittens without thumbs on top of her usual two pairs of gloves. So when arriving at the church Susanna reaches up under Paula’s tulle veil to tie the opaque black scarf to cover her eyes and then Jude has to guide the now blind Paula into church, get her seated and help her stand, kneel and sit again as appropriate for the various parts of the service. Today Jude listens more intensely than ever to pastor Neville’s sermon.
When the service is over Pastor Neville always goes to the entrance to shake hands with all the men who want to. Jude doesn’t do it on a regular basis, but today he wants a word with him as well so he starts meeting Susanna, who has been with her parents during the service, so that she can guide Paula out and then he lines up for a handshake to deliberately be the last.
As he shakes hand with Pastor Neville he says “My name is Jude Russell. Could I have a word with you Pastor? It will only take a minute or two.”
His face lighting up Pastor Neville replies “You are the lotto winner Jude Russell I presume. If it’s not extremely confidential and you don’t mind, why don’t we speak outside where it’s much warmer?”
When the pastor stops and looks at Jude inquiringly he says “I had the lucky numbers, yes. I have been advised in general not to say more than I have become a millionaire, but as you Pastor Neville are a man to be trusted and have professional secrecy I think it will make it easier to understand the seriousness of my request when I tell you that I won thirty four million pounds.”
As he makes the sign of the cross Pastor Neville remarks “Wow! That is enough to live comfortably for the rest of your life without working. Congratulations Mr. Russell.”
Jude tells him “More than that Pastor Neville. The counsellor from the lotto company has told me it is enough to live a true Reformist lifestyle. It has always been the dream of my wife, and I support the politics of the Christian Democratic Party, although so far only by voting for them. I met a Reformist man from Leeds yesterday who suggested I should go to local Reformist Pastor to make contact to those living a true Reformist lifestyle rather than just passing one of them up in the street or in the park where some of them usually take a walk on Sunday afternoons.”
Pastor Neville says “Although there are close links The Reformist Church and The Christian Democratic Party are two separate organisations, but because the party is based on the Reformist interpretation of the Bible, people in general are not aware of the difference, and this is further blurred by the size of local party committees equalling the Reformist parishes. All this to say that the party’s affiliation with the church is not so close as for the Pastor to be a mandatory member of the local committee, but I am as a private person a member of the party and well acquainted with the local committee and all those here who live a true Reformist lifestyle. The current chairman is Robert McIntyre. Would you like me to give him a call right away?”
Jude says “Thank you very much Pastor Neville, but are you not forcing him to a stop on his way back from one of the cities. Coming here every Sunday you can’t avoid noticing that no true reformist women participate in the services so I assume their husbands don’t do as well.”
Pastor Neville explains to Jude “Yes, that is one way it shows that The Christian Democratic Party is different from The Reformist Church. The men of these families are all involved in politics and use the Sunday services to meet other local party committees and because of geography it’s inconvenient for them to meet here, but for Christmas, Easter, marriages and confirmation politics is secondary and they come to me. This means at this hour, right after the service, they are not on their way back yet but in a pub or private home to discuss political strategies, and besides especially regarding Mr. McIntyre he has a son of twenty-two who is always with him on his Sunday trips because he aims at representing the party in The Parliament and his other big interest is cars.”
The pastor calls and after he has passed on some of what Jude has told him through questions from the other end Jude is handed his phone.
He hears the voice on the line saying “Hello Mr. Russell and congratulations. This is Robert McIntyre speaking. I hear that you have been a Reformist voter for some years and now have the means to follow your heart and both become a member of the party and live a true Reformist lifestyle. We very much appreciate your decision and want to support and assist you anyway we can. There is so much to say that it’s not convenient through the phone, and besides I am now in Preston discussing the draft for our new school policies with party members from a wide area around here. The meeting will end soon so we can ride home for lunch and then take a walk in the park as many locals do on Sunday afternoons. Would it be possible for you to meet me there?”
Jude answers “I take an afternoon stroll with my wife through the main street and the park every Sunday Mr. McIntyre so this is perfect.”
Mr. McIntyre says “Then let’s meet there between half past two and three. I will be with my wife and my son and his wife, so I can be identified by being accompanied by two women in velvet. Today my wife is wearing royal blue and my daughter-in-law light green. I’ll just inform you of what we can offer so bring your wife as usual Mr. Russell. I look forward to meeting you.”
Jude hands the phone back to the Pastor saying “Thank you very much. I’d like you to help me a little more. How can I make a contribution to the church? I’m aware that The Reformist Church has an extensive charity programme which has done lots of good for the low-income families here.”
Pastor Neville says “There are still those who fall outside public welfare or need more just for the most basic living despite how much The Christian Democratic Party has done while in government. As you say The Church does its best to help those, for example, children not to go hungry to bed and have warm clothes for the winter, but food is a continuous need and clothes get worn so new contributions are constantly needed from the fortunate. You are of course inquiring about larger contributions than the telephone number which deducts ten pounds from your account by just calling, which many have just used now after the service?”
Jude says “Yes, I was thinking about a thousand pounds for a start. And yes I have used the telephone number a few times when I previously have won amounts in that range. I am also aware that there is a donation button on the website of The Reformist Church, but I would prefer to donate to your church right here to directly benefit the local community.”
Pastor Neville says “A very generous contribution indeed Mr. Russell. To keep it local I suggest you pay to our local bazaar account. This is normally used by people who don’t think that they can produce anything to be sold at the bazaar but instead are willing to use leisure time to do gardening or car washing or similar. I know the account number by heart if you’ll let me enter it.”
After making the transfer Jude says “If I don’t see you before then I’ll be back for the service next Sunday Pastor Neville and I don’t intend to go deeper into politics than I can keep coming here every Sunday morning. I’m a local boy.”
Pastor Neville smiles approvingly while they shake hands. As soon as he gets home Jude looks up the website of The Christian Democratic Party and fills out the membership form.
Jude and Paula take their usual route for their Sunday afternoon walk starting from home to enter the park around twenty past two. Paula is dressed as for church with the opaque scarf beneath her dense tulle veil, the mittens and the ball gag. There are two true Reformists families in the park as they enter. One is just a couple with the woman in salmon velvet. The other consists of two velvet women, a man and a guardian; the women are in amber and chocolate brown respectively. None of these matches the description of the McIntyre family. Jude guides Paula to the first bench from the main street entrance in the clockwise direction. As usual Jude produces his phone to play the lotto, but when attempting to hand it to Paula for her to enter the numbers he finds out she can’t do it with her hands enclosed in the mittens. However Paula has thought of this. With her right mitten she taps her right shoulder for Jude to discover a note with the numbers has been fastened to the inside of her opaque scarf with a safety pin. He enters the numbers and shows the phone to Paula who nods.
Neither of them gives the two Reformist families more than an occasional glance. They watch people entering. Twenty to three the correctly coloured velvet cones appear accompanied, as it should be, by a young man and older man, and in addition there is a guardian. Jude immediately gets up and places himself at the centre of the path for them to take in who they are to meet. The young McIntyre appears to be just below twenty-five and as such similarly aged to Jude. He has a nice trustworthy face to attract voters. His father is in his late forties and has the self-assured commanding look of an army colonel.
Just before close enough to shake hands the two McIntyre men nod politely to Jude and then the father, Robert McIntyre says “Mr. Russell I presume. May I present my son Joshua, and with you becoming a member of the party and the local true Reformist circle it is Robert for me.”
As Jude shakes hand with them both he notices the two velvet cones curtsey to Paula. Jude says to Robert and Joshua “My first name is Jude. To do something a little out of the ordinary after the win, my wife and I went to Blackpool yesterday where I got into a conversation with a true Reformist gentleman from Leeds. He told me that as one not having lived a true Reformist lifestyle until now a tutor family would be appointed to assist me and especially my wife in living the right way.”
With a gesture Robert suggests they start walking which results in the three men walking next to each other with Jude in the middle and the women walking behind with Paula walking between the two velvet wives.
Robert says “Yes, this is a recommendation of both the party and the church which we of course follow here. Formally at the next meeting of the local committee, of which I am the chairman, your background, business situation and aspirations are compared with each local true Reformist family to list the points of similarity and the differences and then the family coming closest is appointed as tutors. One parameter is similarity in age. Here Joshua is a very good match I guess, and if your wife, like his, is a year or two younger than you then the match is even closer. Age is so important, because it is a measure of life experience, that I think it leaves only two possibilities in our small circle. Joshua or Isaac Jones, and if I am right that you with your win have taken a giant leap up the social ladder then Isaac is no doubt the choice. He got his current status by . .”
Joshua interrupts “Father, isn’t that Isaac walking on the opposite side of the lake over there?”
Joshua points at the couple with the woman in salmon to make Robert produce a pair of glasses and then say “I would say you are right. Shouldn’t we let our wives get their exercise by them keep walking around the lake and then we men turn around to go and meet Isaac. I think with both Miss Hart and Mrs. Russell to guide and assist them they are in good hands; well perhaps not the entirely right expression with Mrs. Russell wearing mittens”.
Turning to the guardian Robert gives her an instruction “Miss Hart, you women just keep on to meet us again at the exit.”
Jude, Joshua and Robert soon meet Isaac. He of course has a puzzled expression by seeing Jude with the McIntyre’s but otherwise he seems to be a good chap.
After Robert has introduced Jude and they have shaken hands Isaac says with an accent that reveals he grew up in a much lower social class “Congratulations Jude, it was finding bible classes extremely boring which changed my life. Not to fail the exam I put some of the questions on cards for Trivial Pursuit and played it with my mates. Our surprisingly good results in the exams found me and my best mate contacting the company that owned the rights and suggested a Reformist edition. It has become a huge success and bought by most Reformist schools to be able to offer education in an entertaining way on festive occasions. We both got a large one-and for-all payment, he was hired by them and I get a nice quarterly fee reflecting sales. It all started in Holy Trinity. Did you go to secondary school there as well?”
Jude replies “Yes I did, but I don’t remember having seen you. I graduated in ’64. Which year did you graduate?”
Isaac replies “’65. I had to take the last year of primary school twice, so I got a year behind most at my age. You don’t pay much notice to those below yourself. Robert, am I to be Jude’s tutor?”
Robert answers “I would say so. We don’t need all that formality in our small circle. I’ll just call the others and say we have got a new member, and when I tell them about Jude’s background I am sure they will all approve of you as his tutor. Do you have any questions for the wider company of the three of us Jude?”
Jude replies by saying “I have no immediate questions but my current small terraced house obviously isn’t large enough and I have been going over a lot of houses for sale in the last days without finding anything really interesting. I’m not looking for a mansion but something just large enough for a true Reformist lifestyle, half a dozen small rooms for children and guests and a small annex or attic for servants, and I want something within the municipality. Regarding servants I’ve already employed a young woman from my neighbourhood for cooking and cleaning, but I’m aware that I’ll have to have a guardian for my wife as well. I have no experience to know what to look for at job interviews so advertising for a guardian would be close to gambling. The only thing I’m sure of is that I need an older experienced guardian because neither me or my wife has been brought up for a true Reformist life and besides a young guardian may not dare give unpleasant orders although my wife is very keen on living the true Reformist lifestyle.”
Joshua says “Finding a new guardian is better directed to the guardians of our circle I think as they are part of networks of their own trade, old schoolmates and such. I think you should get this out when calling the others father. Regarding the house I have an idea you probably haven’t considered: Look for one half of a two-family house for sale. There are many more of those than large single family houses. The total of such a house can easily have the size you need and it’s easy and cheap to make it into a one-family house. Regarding the other family you just have to offer them a good deal like paying their removal expenses and offering a very cheap loan for their new house. I am a shareholder in the new development area south of the Preston Road where the houses are built to match the needs of modern families.”
Jude answers saying “That’s very good advice Joshua. I think you are right that there are more of such houses. Where do we go from here Isaac?”
Isaac answers “You and especially your wife come to visit us. For a woman with a background like yours it’s a huge change. I’ll ask the guardian of my wife, Miss Lescott, for advice on how to tackle this as soon as I get home then I’ll call you about when the visit is practicable. We’d better exchange details.”
Joshua and Robert exchange details with Jude as well.
After the information has been exchanged Robert says “While you have your phone out Jude you can note that the next local committee meeting is Wednesday next week, the fourth of June. It’s very informal. You don’t need to prepare a speech to introduce yourself. The agenda usually takes less than fifteen minutes, and then its cosy chatting as if in a pub for a couple of hours.”
Isaac says “Well, occasionally there is a heated political discussion as well.”
Joshua replies “But that is cosy as well, don’t you think Isaac?”
Robert says “The women are with us again. Let’s part for now.”
Outside the park the three Reformist families take one direction while Jude and Paula walk in the opposite. While walking Jude produces his phone to check that the others all live in the fashionable Oakgrove part of town within a radius of a mile of each other.
Susanna is there when they get home for them to have tea soon after.
Paula, apparently having got a hunch of what Jude checked on his phone, says “I’ll do anything to enter the true Reformist lifestyle but I’d prefer our new house to be here in the neighbourhood we know so well rather than moving out to Oakgrove no matter how fashionable it is. It’s less than a ten minutes drive anyway.”
Jude says “I agree. I prefer it here as well. Joshua, that is the young McIntyre, gave me the idea of looking for two-family houses of which there are many around here. By the way I don’t know if you caught that, but we let you ladies walk on for us men to meet the family, or rather just a couple, to be our tutors for learning the true Reformist lifestyle. His name is Isaac Jones and his wife was the velvet woman in salmon. We’ll be invited to visit them very soon.”
Paula says “How wonderful, finally I’m going to see for real a true Reformist wife without public clothing and have a conversation with her.”
Paula leans back with a dreamy expression on her face and Jude takes another slice of cucumber sandwich.
They both jump when Jude’s phone rings.
“Hello Isaac. It’s nice to hear from you so quickly”. He listens for a while, answering questions as Isaac asks them. “Yes, yes, you are in command now and I obey, we’ll come when you have time. A dentist? An individual muzzle? Yes of course. Our servant? Her name is Susanna. Yes, it’s very logical. See you Isaac. It was nice of you to call so soon so I can plan the day. Goodbye.”
Jude claps his hands for Susanna to immediately come into the room.
“Susanna, as Paula and I are unfamiliar with the true Reformist lifestyle we have been appointed a tutoring family, Isaac Jones and his wife, and they have a guardian as well, and one with the same job description as you I suppose. We, including you, have been invited to visit them tomorrow at half past two. Isaac suggested we used the morning to go to the dentist for Paula to get a muzzle fitting. A muzzle is much more pleasant than a ball gag and easier to apply and remove, and a personally fitted muzzle is so comfortable it is soon forgotten. You have to come with us Susanna because it is important you are able to assist Paula with just about everything, especially until I hire a guardian for her, but afterwards as well as the guardian has to have time off or may get ill. While we are at the dentist because of Paula I’ll try for all of us to get our teeth checked. Let me see the dentist has a long slot available at a quarter past ten, I take that, and then I’ll call first thing in the morning to see if we can all have our teeth checked while waiting for the muzzle to be made. Thank you Susanna, it may be very late in the afternoon before we get back, so dinner has to be something that can be made ready quickly, just one simple dish perhaps.”
Paula leaves with Susanna to return almost immediately holding a ball gag and saying
“The dentist appointment reminded me I think a true Reformist woman is muzzled nearly always except during meals and when in conversation. From now on I won’t speak in your presence unless given permission by you.”
Paula gags herself, picks up Jude’s old Bible, which since Wednesday has got its place on a shelf in the living room, and then she kneels down in the far corner. For the rest of the day, like before the win, they hardly exchange a word for Jude during evening tea to speculate if Paula’s speaking much more has just been a temporary inclination caused by being overjoyed. Later, when she comes to bed he lifts the sleep mask of Paula’s nightdress to see in her eyes that although she is modestly completely covered she is anticipating their lovemaking and is highly excited.