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Story by Emmjay

A pair of dusty and calloused feet crunched their way across the gravel in the Pig’s Arms car park, separated from the sharp grit by a well-worn pair of Jesus sandals.

The good father looked downcast as he took his seat at the cathedral end of the bar.  Merv, in an unusual display of sensitivity, sensing (incorrectly) that the Easter overtime had taken its toll, wordlessly poured the good father a stiff glass canoe of single-pink pink drink.  He patiently waited until the good father chose to address his flock of one.

Father O’Way took a long draw on the dayglow draught, and spoke thusly:

“Looks like we’re up Styx Creek this time, my son” he said.

“How so, Father ?” said Merv.

“St. Generic Brand’s” said the good father. “We’ve had the tap on the shoulder from the Bish”.

“Bastard” said Merv.

“Not his fault” said the good father.  “It’s George”.

“The Cardie his-self ?” asked Merv.

“The very self same” said FOW.

“Bastard” said Merv.

“Totes” said FOW, picking up the argot of his other parishioner, Diss’n Terry.

“What’s the drum, Father ?” said Merv.

“The Bish said that George had a visit from the Church of the Latter Day Home Brand and they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse” said FOW.

‘Get out !” said Merv “George isn’t going to cop any standover crap from those low-price pushers”.

“No” said the good father, they told George that he wasn’t getting good parishioner value per metre of pew space and they offered to buy a chunk of St Generics and replace Generic worship with Home Brand”.

“But doesn’t that cheapen the message ?” asked Merv.

“Bish said it’s time we recognised that the demographic is changing.  You know, ‘Never mind the quality, feel the width’” he said.

“I dunno what that means, Father” said Merv.

“It doesn’t mean anything” said FOW.  “He’s just fertooling around”.

“I dunno what that means, either” said Merv.

“Look, put it down and get a proper grip on yourself” said FOW.

“How can I say this ?” said FOW. “And before you answer that, it was a rhetorical question”.

“A what question ?” asked Merv.

The good father’s eyes pointed skyward and he asked the ultimate power to give him strength.

“Look, let me sketch this out for you with a thicker crayon, Merv.  For a sum of money that stretches way beyond the weekly take at St Generics, George is going to import cheap and shallow parishioners in pastel crimplene and replace the Pig’s Psalms with cheesy guitar music and curdling lyrics sung by atonal creepy types with clear skin and faces as bland as the hand towels in the Mondrian Brothers (plumbers to the art classes) loos.  Do you follow me now ?”

“Like those people from the buywell belt ?” said Merv, finally getting the message.

“Exactly” said the good father.  “The ones that never take a medicinal pink drop and will never play the porkies at the Pig’s Arms.

“Cripes” said Merv.

“Precisely” said FOW.

“I can’t stand that cheesy music” said Merv.  “Nobody’s girl leaves him for another man, nobody gets shot and nobody’s good old dog dies.  There’s no passion – no real life journey experience in it.  They have no stories – just soppy warbling”.

“ I hate nylon strings on guitars” said Hung, from the Paddington end.  “Plunky, plunky plunk.  Less cut-through than a warm fart in a phone booth” he added.

“Is this thing a definite done deal, Father” inquired Merv.

“Yeah, well, in PRINCIPLE, it’s a done deal” said FOW.

“Might there be a cooling off period ?” said Merv. “Or a performance clause ?”

“Like… ?” said FOW.

“Like …. Say the Home Brand faithful failed to take root at St Generic Brand’s” said Merv.

“Say, if the Hell’s Angles turned up, sang right off key and asked tricky theotrigonometric questions during bible study” said Merv.

“Would there be middle aged men with long ponytails ?” asked FOW.

“I hate middle aged Christian bikies with long ponytails” said Hung.

“My son,” said FOW “They are all God’s children…. Whether they are complete dorks or not.  Remember, God created man in his own image”.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the bar for a few moments….

“What’s our counter lunch offer ?” Merv wondered.

“You mean, how do we get the Bish to get George to change his mind ?” said the good father.

“Yeah” said Merv.

“ I don’t think George really gives a continental about the brand quality” said FOW.  “It’s donations per pew metre.  It’s bums on seats” said the good father.

“Who’s up for a little bit of brand stacking ?” asked Merv.

The bar started to fill with the usual afternoon crowd and the general consensus was that siphoning off a bit more of the meat tray raffle money to support St Generic Brand’s was the least the patrons could do”.

“After all…” said Merv “with Eddie O’Bad’s people and Arturo Sinister Demons moving into the area, St Generic Brand’s will have a lot more sin to shift and we all know the wages of not shifting sin”.