Being the sermons and writings of the most revd. SamWeller, formerly of Leeds and now resident in Calosso Italy, as transcribed by his most humble amanuensis and parishioner Peter Carroll.
I was a child born, you might say, with a face already turned towards the rubble of History. Mewing, I came unknowing, into a land exhausted by war and turmoil. And there I was raised, behind dank privet under the miasmic influences of London fogs. Therefore, it should be no surprise that by nature I am a sceptic. A scepticism which with the years and the evidence of my own follies and of my fellow monkeys (for I am with Mr Darwin upon this – that we are all monkeys under the skin) I adduced to be supported by experience.
Imagine my surprise then when I realised that the spirit of someone long dead had taken up abode in a large lipoma upon the shoulder of my beloved dog Sam. For it had been my unshakeable belief that the quick are quick and the dead are dead. But as the Rev. SamWeller – for such the spirit wished to be called – pointed out in an early conversation – – How could I be sure?
“For do you not see every day in that diabolic cage, the dead behave as alive and the living behave as dead. In my day this would have been necromancy and possession. For you it is Daytime TV. ”
I thought upon this, remembering endless repeats of Inspector Morse and the undead of the Jeremy Kyle show – and knew he was right. Life and Death, those pillars of reality, indeed had become just evanescent vapours in the ether.
“Tweet, tweet, twitter. Tereu, Tereu, unreal city” smirked the spirit at my discomfiture.
But as to who the spirit was I would have to wait upon a communication from a niece by means of the electronic mail. She had come upon in a dusty corner of the family history an ancestor, the Reverend John Emblem. I append a summary of her account.
“Revd. John Emblem (1777-1857). A London “dissenting” minister. Presented twice , with other non-conformist ministers, to a new monarch to pledge allegiance. King William IV in 1830 and Victoria in 1840. Preached many years at Stratford – then a suburb in east London. Owned property in Bethnal Green. Later minister at Tower Hamlets Cemetery in which he was a shareholder…
Married three times, fathered 12 children. At one point lived above a butchers shop and had a slaughter house in the back garden… Suffered many set backs in life with the loss of two wives and problems with his children. John was a convicted criminal and army deserter, Lydia had a child out of wedlock aged 13, Mary Ann married a minor and Henry converted to Catholism and became a bankrupt.”
All became clear. A dissenter who conformed to power and profit. Perhaps, a hypocrite. Preacher in the suburbs and landlord in the slums. Yet also, a troubled father, a man who needed wives, a personal life that dissented from conformity. This indeed must be an uneasy spirit who had come seeking the certainties of canine existence.
The revd. SamWeller never admits that such is the case contenting himself to say.
“Woof be unto you and the love of dog go with you”
Calosso, August 2009