It was the little things that gave it away. At first I didn’t pick up on them, at least, not consciously anyway. I knew Reverend Mathews when we lived in Cambridge and he was the vicar at our local church. He was popular. His sermons were always witty and interesting, full of humour and delivered with precision in his beautiful, deep voice – still with its tinges of Scottish accent, a legacy from his Edinburgh upbringing. Reverend Andrew Mathews was well-respected: his theological knowledge was as extensive as his sense of compassion. He was a tall man with black hair, pale skin and piercing blue eyes. Reverend Andy was married. His wife – Jo – was a midwife at St Peter’s Hospital. Everyone said that they seemed a good match. She was petite, had a neat blonde bob, and shared his intellect.
One evening, my husband and I were at the theatre and we bumped into Jo with a friend of hers. The bell had just sounded for the performance to resume so we were all in a rush to get back to our seats. Jo smiled, in her usual friendly way, and waved. Her companion looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place where I knew her from. After that I started seeing Jo and her friend more and more: in Sainsbury’s, shopping; out walking; in the local pub. I didn’t think much about it at first. I mean, you don’t, do you? But the more I saw them together, the more I thought that Jo’s friend was familiar. Perhaps they were sisters, I thought. Then, one day, Jo introduced her friend –
‘This is Angie,’ she said, ‘a very old friend of mine.’
‘Hello,’ I said, ‘are you a midwife too?’
‘Oh, um, er, no, I’m not, no.’
Ah well, I thought, that’ll teach me to be nosy. But – that voice. Where did I know that voice from?
Angie was attractive. She had beautiful porcelain skin, and was tall and slim with dark hair.
Occasionally, Jo came to church. She would help with teas and coffees afterwards, and Reverend Andy seemed appreciative of his wife’s presence and efforts. One day, as we stood in the church hall after Sunday Eucharist – sipping our tea and eating our chocolate digestives – I looked at the two of them standing next to each other and the penny dropped.
The following Sunday our new vicar stood up and addressed the congregation.
‘Welcome, everyone,’ she said in a deep but familiar voice, with its soft Scottish accent. ‘Lovely to see so many of you here on this rather chilly morning. I am honoured to be taking over as your vicar. My name is Reverend Angie Mathews. And now we will join together and sing hymn number 289.’
And the following week I saw the headline in the local paper –
“Local vicar leads double life for twenty years”
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