The other week I took Beth swimming at the pool in Pyle, a short drive from here. It must be the centre of the occult in South Wales because there was one lane just for mediums.
Many years ago, when I was about to join OM I listened to a tape by a young George Verwer, recorded years before in a flat in Bombay (as it was then). The message was entitled ‘Action’. I am not sure if it was the manner in which he spoke or the quality of the recording (he told us it was 3am as it was the only time that the city was quiet enough) but it took a while before I realized that the apparent convulsive sneezing fit that seemed to come over him regularly was in fact just George’s explosive vocalization of this great word: ‘action!’ It was electrifying. Quoting A. W. Tozer, he told us that we have a tendency to think but not to act. I have often thought about that. It is definitely a weakness that I recognize in myself. But the message I heard gave me a determination to put that tendency to death in my life (see Romans 8 if you think that language is over the top). I often fail still but am encouraged that, by God’s grace, I don’t always.
A couple of weeks ago I was lying awake at 4am with the window wide open. Suddenly there came a wild screeching of tyres followed by a sickening crunch of metal. I leaped out of bed. Someone must have been hurt in that, I told Becky. I pulled on some clothes, grabbed a first aid kit and Becky’s phone and jumped on my bike to see if I could help. In the next road over, two young men were emerging from the wreck and running off. “Joy riders,” I thought. “Oi!” I shouted and took off in hot pursuit. The hoodlums ran into a nearby lane and through the bushes into the next road. I followed on my bike and now managed to get the phone out. 9-9-9. Bother, there were all sorts of symbols on the screen. Another man was walking in the opposite direction and seemed to exchange some words with the two fugitives. “They’re the ones who did it,” he shouted over to me as I passed. I stopped and asked if he had a phone I could borrow. He patted his tracksuit pockets. “No mate, I haven’t.” I tried Becky’s phone again and got it working. “I am pursuing two joy riders down Fulmer Road.” “What are they driving?” “They aren’t...they are on foot.” Then, hearing the puzzled expression on the woman’s face, I proceeded to explain what had happened and describe the miscreants I was tracking. “They’re crossing some fields. I’m going to see if I can catch up with them in the village, the other side.” A minute later I emerged onto the village road ahead of the villains unsure if they realized I was the same person that had been chasing them. I ducked into a driveway to conceal myself as they got nearer. So there I was whispering to the lady on the phone and trying to make out the conversation that they were having as they trotted along. Suddenly, they took a different lane and by the time I emerged the crooks had given me the slip. How embarrassing.
I cycled around for a while but eventually headed back to the crash site and talked with the police who had just turned up. Another lady had seen the delinquents emerging from the vehicle. There were three: the first one had run off down a side road opposite to the other two. She couldn’t give much of a description. I returned home. As I told Becky what I had been up to another jigsaw piece suddenly fitted into place. “Wait here,” I said and bolted out the door and back up the road. “I met the third man: he is tall, blond and in his late twenties, wearing a blue tee-shirt and black track suit trousers and doesn’t have a phone on him!” I returned to bed but not to sleep.
The CID turned up later and informed me that they were investigating a reported burglary. It turns out that the third man was in fact the son of the woman who had been ‘burgled’. So that was that.
By the way, just in case, the bit about Pyle was a joke.