He'd wondered what to call himself. Saint Martin? Lama Martin? After all, as founder of a breakaway religion he could take the best bits from everyone else. Modestly, he'd opted for Brother. He could always change it later.
He decided to start small. He'd hone his ideas on his core congregation, the local householders. Not all the householders, of course. He'd taken care not to leaflet Lucien Marksbury at no 38. Lucien, who always parked his sports car in what Martin thought of as 'his' parking space. Lucien, whose son Max was so pale, so thin and so frequently clad in black that he must either be on heroin or plotting a Columbine-style school massacre. Lucien, who never bothered to say hello. He was definitely not invited.
That Friday Martin came home from work early. He put the miniature cheese puffs and spicy spring rolls that he'd bought from Waitrose into the oven and set out the glasses on the coffee table in the front room. Then he changed.
He'd ironed his new cassock the night before. He pulled it over his shirt and trousers. Wearing a long white dress gave him an unusual feeling. Lovingly, he lifted the red silk chasuble from its tissue-lined box. He slipped it over his head. It fell to the middle of his thighs, the short sleeves brushing his elbows. It was heavy, rich with gold embroidery. He straightened his backbone and pulled back his shoulders. He looked in the mirror. A stranger was standing there, a stranger with an air of authority and wisdom. But the stranger had no hat. Martin frowned. He should have bought the mitre offered on the website.
There was a ring at the doorbell, dot on 8.00 o'clock. Martin nearly tripped in his haste to get to the door. Realising the problem, he lifted his skirts delicately between his fingers. He opened the door with his other hand. It was Jessie Hicks, no 2, upstairs flat. Her hair was as wild and wispy as ever and her eyes darted to left and right as she said: