As delivered at Trendlewood Church on Christmas Day. Apologies that the opening joke is a local one. You may need to fit your own in to use elsewhere. To use this in a service dress as a private eye (dark glasses, hat, raincoat with collar pulled up).
On the word intriguing – stroke your chin before speaking it
On the word suspicious - look round from side to side before speaking it
On the word mysterious - scratch your head as if puzzled
Rich was reading the letters page of his local newspaper. He found it hard to understand why people seemed so anxious about car parking spaces in a town you could walk round in an hour.
Very mysterious (head scratch).
Still, not a problem for him. Foreign supermarket chains could, under no circumstances, be enquired into by a firm that specialised in 'Paranormal, supernatural and doctrinal investigations'. He dealt with huge issues'; not Lidl ones.
As he folded the paper away he spotted an advert. He scraped the spots off again so he could read it.
Someone who can explain why my Advent calendar only goes up to 24.
'This is indeed my area of expertise' he said to himself, thinking doubly deeply, although it came out as 'Well, well'.
But it was also a good question. Very intriguing (stroke chin).
When is advent? he asked. No-one answered, because he was alone. He decided to take his thoughtfulness to a coffee shop. He was in a quandary. He must have got in it absent-mindedly so he got out and found his own car.
In the local coffee shop he asked, 'When is advent?'
This time the other customers all looked at him strangely and returned to their lattés and laptops.
He noticed an Advent calendar on the wall. It started at 1 and ended at 24. Joanna was right. But he recalled that Advent Sunday was only sometimes on the 1st of December and it hadn't been this year. So that was very mysterious (head scratch).
He went round the shops. That didn't work so he went in. He bought a selection of calendars. It would probably be the only time he could put chocolate on expenses.
After careful research and some alka-seltzer he concluded that door number 7 was usually a fluffy thing, door 14 was often weird and door 24 had a baby behind it.
Nor was there any consistency. Nobody seemed to agree about the picture to put behind each window. Maybe that was why he got so many messages saying Windows was updating.
But there never was a day 25. Christmas Day. The best day was never there. Very intriguing (stroke chin).
Did people have no time for it?
Did no-one know what to put behind the door?
Was there no money to be made out of 25 door calendars?
Very suspicious (look over shoulders).
He should start a campaign for real advent calendars on which door 7 showed a woman with a 2.00 a.m. craving for pickled walnuts and door 24 had Joseph saying 'Push'.
He made a mental note. Then he scrubbed his head and made the note in his pocket book, which was far more sensible. He was making no progress. He went home and looked at all the things he had noted in his pocket book. He decided to sleep on it.
He woke 30 minutes later in great pain and decided to sleep on his bed instead.
Considering he was fully fit it was odd that he slept fitfully.
Waking early he took a bath. 'Oy that's my bath' said a three inch tall, five foot wide man from down the corridor. It was his flatmate.
Instead of taking a bath he used his own shower. As the warm water refreshed him he remembered an old priest he had once met. He seemed to be a kindly old soul and had a breadth of knowledge about all things theological - especially the mysterious (head), intriguing (chin) or suspicious (shoulders). But the man was very long-winded so Rich only visited him in emergencies.
He bolted down a bowl full of wild bird seed with some milk, unaware the the garden birds were now eating muesli and enjoying it more than him.
He raced to the church where the kindly old priest worked. He was replacing a pink candle with a purple one mumbling about Mary candles. Rich had no idea who Mary Candles was.
He knew the priest was a bit deaf. As he was facing away from the door he walked right up to him and tapped him on the shoulder.
The elderly priest came round a few minutes later. Since he'd been terrified out of it Rich put him back into his skin.
'Hello Mr Gospel', said the priest, recognising him at last. 'What can I do for you?'
Rich explained about the problem with the Advent windows and how he was finding it all very mysterious (head).
The priest said, and we know he did because Rich took the precaution of recording it, having first reassured the owner of the precaution that he would give it back in a minute:
'An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the First Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, many Advent calendars often begin on December 1, although those that are produced for a specific year often include the last few days of November that are part of the liturgical season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries but is now ubiquitous among adherents of many Christian denominations. December 25th is the first day of the season of Christmas, not the last day of the season of Advent.'
Amazing. He noted never to use liturgical, ubiquitous, adherent and denominations in the same sentence ever. But he had solved the problem.
As he left the church he saw Joe, the local paper boy.
'Hey Joe' he said 'Do you know why Advent calendars only go up to 24?'
He was looking forward to impressing Joe with his new-found knowledge. He liked impressing young people.
'Yeah', said Joe. 'It's so we can sell them next year if we over-stock.'
Trouble with trying to impress kids, thought Rich. They just don't get easily impressed.
And now he had another problem. Which answer to give Joanne?
Previous episodes of Rich Gospel Investigates Christmas can be found at: