"Marvellous. Dog fouling punishable by hellfire. Are we minuting this? Shall I do the honours?"
A couple of hours later they'd drawn up a constitution, a motley collection of regulations for the new religion. Martin was sad there hadn't been time for a proper service as he'd written a blistering sermon on the dangers of recycling. However, they agreed to reconvene next week and in the meantime to put together a uniform for their missionary work in the town centre on a Saturday night. Their aim was to restore clean, quiet and pleasant streets to residents, using some minimal violence if necessary. Emma had promised to fashion an emblem for them from the feathers of birds killed by her cat, Pickles. As they drifted away, it was felt that an interesting evening had been had by all.
As the weeks went by, the congregation swelled. Once, there were 15 people in Martin's front room. Martin was pleased, particularly as Lucien never came again. A pattern was established - a service, with sermon, led by Brother Martin, followed by a barbecue on the terrace, weather permitting. Jessie provided music, now accompanied by a banjo (no 9), and a piccolo (no 17).
The first pair to patrol the streets comprised Martin, in mufti but sporting a magpie-feather badge and Jessie, sustained by a couple of double vodkas. The patrol was not a triumph. They found that most revellers left the pubs and bars in an annoyingly orderly fashion. Some hours passed before they found a fracas in a back alley. Jessie's polite tap on the shoulder had no effect on the two lads involved, so Martin stepped between them. The policeman who arrived shortly afterwards on his bicycle had little sympathy for Martin's black eye, muttering about vigilantes making his job harder.
In the light of this, Martin suggested that his congregation withdrew, temporarily, from missionary work.
"Let us retrench, and focus on the community around us," he said at the end of his sermon, which that week tackled the topic of helping thy neighbour by watching him closely.