I have been asked by someone for the details as to how I became an atheist. Again
I have mentioned before that I grew up in a very laissez faire Church of England environment and never had a devout belief in Christianity at all but this isn’t the entire reason I gave up on the Christian faith. And god belief in general.
When I was nine we used to live in a small town called Ramsey in the South of England. We were there for two years. We used to go to a local church called St. Mary’s and after morning service the kids attended Sunday School In the hall adjoining the church.
I don’t remember much, but I do remember one or two things. The smell of course. Which was of polish. It must have been some sort of universal floor cleaner/polish as the school hall always smelled strongly of the stuff. I couldn’t stand it.
There were also lots of those wooden folding chairs in a large storeroom at the back of the hall. It was divided in two, one half for chairs and the other for tables. I remember the chairs because some were left out once and we kids had to put them back and the one I picked up folded in my hands and trapped my fingers, and I lost the nail on my right index finger.
The other most striking memory is of thrupenny bits. A hexagonal coin that was vital for Sunday School. Not three pennies or any sort of numerical equivalent. It had to be a thrupenny bit.
Simply because it made a noise when you spun it. And this was the game we played before the Sunday School teacher arrived.
He was a church warden or something. He was called Cecil Lea. He was old, or oldish. Around 30. Which is old is if you’re nine. I remember he had round glasses. And I only remember this because I had a pair the same. They were horrible and everyone called me four eyes.
We used to call him Cecily behind his back and if he heard we would get a whack.
Such punishment was de rigeur in those days and you didn’t tell your mum or dad in case they give you a whack too for being cheeky.
So, while our parents all went home, the kids filed into the hall next door to await the teacher. We always had about twenty minutes to ourselves while Mister Lea collected bibles or prayer books or whatever and it was the only lesson I ever remember being so happy about being early.
Once at our desks the spinning contest would begin. And because the coins were hexagonal they made a noise on the ancient wooden desks. And noise is also important to a bunch of nine year olds. It was a bit like attaching old cigarette boxes to the spokes of your bicycle with a peg to make it sound like a motor bike.
So a class of about 15 kids all spinning the thrupenny bits on wooden desks in a draughty old church hall made quite a noise.
Oh, I forgot to mention the money was for collection. Before the lesson started a small collection plate came around and the money went for charity, presumably.
Well, the kid that sat next to me was a friend: Gary Luton. He lived next door. We still keep in contact to this day. Anyhow, he told me and another kid, Andrew I think he was called; can’t remember, that his older brother David had said that Mister Lea was nicking all our collection money and was planning on running away to America.
Yeah, well, nine year olds will believe anything I guess. And it sounded plausible, although I can’t imagine how many thrupenny bits he would have needed, but this is beside the point.
So we were convinced and decided to hang back after Sunday School to see where he hid the money.
We had some colouring in to do and so while Mister Lea was collecting all the other bits and bobs we lagged behind. When he left to take some things back to the church proper we quickly hid in the storeroom and waited to see what he did with the collection money that still sat in the plate on his desk.
Well, it wasn’t the money that became the issue, because old Cecily came back in the room a few minutes later with someone. He locked the door and then went into the part of the storeroom with the tables and proceeded to undress the person he had brought in with him and then when they were both naked they got ‘’busy’’.
We could easily see what was going on as we crouched in our half of the storeroom and we were petrified. I nearly peed myself.
When they finished they left and we crept out, scared out of our wits.
We agreed that this was one time we would tell our parents.
I don’t remember much only that I had never seen two naked people before and that god must not be real if he allowed such a thing to happen.
I cried for days and my folks seriously considered sending me to see a specialist.
Anyhow Cecily got fired because of us three boys and when the local paper found out it made headlines.
I remember my folks saying that he was subject to such humiliation that he did eventually move and to America to boot. I asked my mum about it years later and she said he ended up as a sports coach teaching soccer at some university in the south somewhere.
And that’s more or less how I knew there was no god because of my Sunday School teacher Mister Lea bonking some woman in the store-room of the church hall.
And if you have read this far just pause for a second and check the date on the post or your computer. If it says April 1st. Smile.