mission hall

mission hall
Charles Street, Hull has turned into
a depression of broken window
shuttered shops – 
no trace remains of the Pioneer Store
or the anonymous entrance
to the Fig Tree Gospel Hall
where bags of jumble sale left-overs
half-blocked the door
and a broad Yorkshire pig farmer –
stood sentry
keeping rowdy sinners out –
and backsliding brethren in
he shook each hand vigorously – 
crushing first-timers’ knuckles
passing out hymnals
and King James Bibles
from a dusty varnished table
young ‘brothers’ in Burton suits and ties
vie to catch the eye of teenage ‘sisters’,
(each the image of their mothers) in
winter coats, crochet hats, and sensible shoes –
scattered amid the fold-up seating
as the Spirit moves, melting souls,
sighing ‘hallelujahs’ fill the hall,
Pastor Gardiner breaks the spell
calling for a testimonial
an unkempt beard and leather sandals,
dirty hair and unwashed jeans,
relates a tale of sordid debauchery,
’till Jesus came and rescued me’
Gideon Gardiner, beaming,
nods at the piano,
a matron thumps the keys,
the pastor joins in
bashing hell
out of a tambourine
the congregation demands
‘a thousand tongues to sing
their great redeemer’s praise’
then segues seamlessly into,
‘when the roll is called up yonder…’
the chorus ends, a silence settles 
till the farmer re-ignites the praising, 
‘if you’re happy and you know it…’
happy hands clap
happy feet stamp
flaky walls shake
floorboards bounce
next door
the ‘Beer Off’ owner
sighs for Monday.

© coolhermit 2023
UKA Editor's Pick!
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Terrific atmosphere, Rick. The Burton suits struck a memory chord. Never bought one myself (bit too young), but it would seem so strange these days to think they were a teenage fashion accessory 60 years ago.
Great stuff as ever. 🙂

Last edited 2 years ago by Guaj

I kind of guessed it was you 😉


I thought you’d be one of the young brothers!

The local church does a “Thank God it’s Sunday” once a month – they do a great breakfast – and the “happy hands” resonates with me. Leave with a happy halo sticker and the promise of angels in my dreams.


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