Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

The Canon Laughed

The Rev. Canon Roderick Johnstone was Rector of St John's Beecroft for more than 40 years. A lawyer by training, he had a keen mind, was rather formal in manner and expected things to be done precisely the way they should be. He could be a forbidding figure with a daunting presence.

One of the organisations of his parish was a branch of the Mothers Union, and guest speakers were often invited. One lady, invited to an evening meeting, was given clear instructions as to how to reach the church. 'Get out of the train on the left', said the Canon. He had in mind the Down line which came into Beecroft on the western side, the left side of the station as you face the direction of travel.

In those days, trains did not have automatic closing doors. When the train stopped, you pulled the handle, slid the door across and stepped out. The Mothers Union speaker followed the Canon's instructions to the letter. She opened the door on the left hand side of the train and stepped out into the darkness. Alas, the platform was on the other side of the train.

Sometime later, a distressed lady arrived at St John's. Her clothes were bedraggled and she had lost her hat. She had cuts and bruises, but a Mothers Union guest speaker is not easily defeated. She had fallen at least two metres, and rolled down the bank which was covered with weeds and prickly bushes. Somehow she regained the platform and staggered up the hill to St John's.

The word 'schadenfreude' was unknown in Australia in those days, but in telling the tale afterwards, the Canon laughed.

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