07 February 2019, The Tablet

St Anthony is not fussy about the people for whom he intercedes

St Anthony is not fussy about the people for whom he intercedes

I got out of bed, helped myself to a Gaviscon and put on my overcoat. It was 4 a.m. I needed a Gaviscon because the honey and menthol lozenges I’d been sucking had given me indigestion. I needed an overcoat because the curtains had fallen down and awaited a new rail, and cold air was making itself at home indoors, where a radiator had conked out.

I was grumpy after a brief bout of flu, but other people’s flu is as dull as other people’s dreams, so enough of that. Yet I was comforted by a piece of providence that may sound meanly selfish. It is to do with St Anthony’s involvement with my tax affairs.

St Anthony, as I may have mentioned, is not fussy about the people for whom he intercedes. Only a couple of weeks ago he had done me a double favour in the empty quarter of Extremadura. I was in Zafra, a curious market town with a station half-an-hour’s walk away. As the old joke has it: “Why is the station so far from the town?” “We thought we’d build it near the railway.”
I’d left time to buy a sandwich and get a taxi before the lunchtime Sunday train – the train of the day. No shop was open, no taxi to be caught. By necessity I lolloped off, with a painful knee and a heavy bag, hot and bothered in the cold wind, with, perhaps, enough minutes to make the train.

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