When Terry and June Donaldson's 13-year-old son Alexander joined the church choir at St Mark's in the pretty Devon village of Bovey Tracey, the Reverend Brian Watts feared it was only a matter of time before he was invited to tea. In the event, he need not have worried, because the two hours he spent at the Donaldsons' house last weekend were perfectly enjoyable.
'Call me cynical if you will,' said Watts, 'but my experiences as 32 years as a vicar in middle class areas of England have scarred me deeply. I had to go as a matter of form but I was dreading it.'
When Watts entered the house on a newly established estate on the outskirts of the village, the couple, both 52, who moved down from London a year ago, welcomed him into the front room and offered him a choice of Assam or Earl Grey tea, plus a selection of sandwiches and a slice of home made chocolate cake. They then proceeded to make light conversation about plans for the annual Harvest Supper and village life.
'There were a few potentially dicey moments,' said Watts. 'First Terry ran in from the garden to answer the phone and nearly tripped up, but fortunately he was wearing a belt so his trousers were unaffected. Then June mentioned they had a Swedish au pair staying with them and I thought 'uh-oh'. Happily it turns out that Kristina is a dumpy girl with glasses and in any case she had gone out for the day.'
After it was established that the Donaldsons prefer the old Book of Common Prayer to the modern alterantives and that they will help man the tombola at the annual fete in September, the moment came for June to offer Watts another cup of tea, which he accepted with some misgivings. It appears, however, that if anyone broke wind at this point, it was entirely silent and odourless. Watts left soon after.
'It was a pleasant afternoon and they are a charming couple,' he told reporters. 'Indeed, if they were any nicer, I might start feeling guilty about pressurising their son into giving me a hand job in the vestry after choir practice.'