35 years old, and vicar at St Andrews for the past three years, the Revd Arthur Spears is a highly principled man, which – as a vicar – is not a bad way to be. He has confessed that his only dalliance with drugs is an occasional paracetamol, “and the only time I have smoked was when a mischievous choirboy set my cassock alight“. He has, though, been known to have the occasional shandy too many, but as this normally just makes him jolly and slightly irreverent, this is seen by the understanding villagers of Stonking as a sign of his humanity.
Father Spears also prides himself on being a good community vicar, at all times approachable and attentive, knowing when to listen and when to counsel. Despite occasional thefts from the property, he refuses to have the church locked, saying that would be akin to “denying access to the Lord”. He maintains an immaculate church and a churchyard kept tidy and picturesque with almost military precision. Father Spears has just inaugurated a church appeal to raise the £30,000 necessary to have central heating installed. But in four weeks the Fund has only raised seventy-eight pence, ten euros, one nickel and one Chocolate Button. “At this rate it will be celebrating its thousandth anniversary in 2164 with still-shivering parishioners.”