Once upon a time, there was Seventh Day Adventist named Sidney. Sidney had a Sandwich toaster, and, on Saturday evenings after service, he would invite his friends back to the church hall, to eat toasted sandwiches and play Trivial Pursuit. They called it the Sandwich club. Although Sydney was a Seventh Day Adventist, he was very broad minded. As the Sandwich Club grew, Molly the Methodist, Bob the Baptist, Henry the Hindu, Arny the Atheist, Simon the Sceptic, Norman the Mormon and Jerry the Jew all became members. They ate sandwiches, and they answered general knowledge questions far into the night. Although a lot of people thought that this was a silly way to spend an evening, the club members enjoyed it, and it became quite important to them.
Opposite the Seventh Day Adventist Church where the Sandwich Club met was a synagogue. It wasn't the synagogue that Jerry the Jew went to, because it was run by a wicked Rabbi called Roger. Roger preached long boring sermons that Jerry couldn't stand, so each Saturday, Jerry would walk a mile and a half to go to a different Synagogue, run by a kind, godly rabbi named Ron.
Roger the Rabbi hated the fact that no-one came to listen to his sermons; he hated the fact that Ron the Rabbi's services were always full. He hated nearly everything, in fact. He hated it when it rained, and he hated it when it was sunny. He hated Neigbours and he hated Brookside. But most of all, he hated it when, after closing up his Synagogue on a Saturday evening, he could hear the sounds of people having a good time from over the road.
"This one is for a green wedge!" he could hear Molly the Methodist saying "Is the answer Abraham Lincoln?"
"No!" cried Bob the Baptist in reply "It's Judy Garland!" and there would be much giggling. Finally, Sid the Seventh Day Adventist would say "Time for some sandwiches" and the giggling would stop, and the smell of toasted cheese would waft over the road into the synagogue.
Roger the Rabbi was furious that all these people were having such a good time, and so he hatched a scheme to spoil it for them. Week after week, after service, he would listen at the door of Sidney's Sandwich Club. And, after six weeks, his spying paid off.
"Right, who's for sandwiches, then?" he heard Sidney say.
"Yes, yes, me!" came lots of answers.
"OK then" he heard Sidney say again. "Three beef, two cheese, one poached egg and one bacon."
Roger knew that he had trapped them. He got on his bicycle, and rode the mile and half to Ron the Rabbi's synagogue. Fortunately, Ron was still there. Ron didn't like Roger very much, but he was always polite to him.
"Do you have a young man named Jerry in your congregation?" asked Roger.
"Yes, I do" replied Ron.
"Well, I thought I should tell you that he goes to a club, opposite my Synagogue, on Saturdays after service. And do you know what they do there?"
"I can't guess," said Ron.
"They eat bacon sandwiches!" exclaimed Roger.
"Oh dear" said Ron. "I suppose I should talk to him about it."
Ron the Rabbi did indeed talk to Jerry the Jew the very next week. "Is it true that you are a member of the Bacon Sandwich Club?" he asked him.
At first, Jerry couldn't imagine what on earth he meant. "Oh!" he said "You mean the *Sandwich* Club. I do go there on a Saturday evenings, but only in the winter when it gets dark early."
"I wasn't worried about that." said Ron "I was more concerned about you being a member of a club that forces you to eat bacon. I know that our traditions can seen difficult to a young man, but as you get older . . ."
"I've never eaten bacon in my life!" exclaimed Jerry "And neither has Valerie the Vegetarian! As a matter of fact, I don't even like the smell. Occasionally, Sidney makes bacon sandwiches for Simon the Sceptic, but he always cleans the sandwich toaster afterwards. I have toasted cheese!"
"I'm very sorry, then." said Ron the Rabbi. "I should know better than to listen to Roger."
And so, for a long time, everything got back to normal. One or two people in Jerry's synagogue still thought that he was a member of a Bacon Sandwich Club, but he was usually able to put them straight. Occasionally, nasty people from Roger's synagogue would spit at him in the street, but they were such horrid people that Jerry didn't really care what they thought. The club thrived, so much so that it was too big to fit in Sidney's Seventh Day Adventist Hall, so various new Chapters were started. Frank the Fundamentalist started one; so did Kerry the Christian Scientist, Martin the Marxist, Nigil the Nihilist and Eric the Existentialist.
But, oh dear! so did Patrick the Pork Butcher.
Patrick the Pork Butcher hated Roger the Rabbi. He hated him because he had once lost an argument with him about the interpretation of levitical dietary taboos in the post-industrial milieu. But mostly he hated Roger because Roger was such a nasty, sour old man who always wanted his own way. A lot of people thought the same about Patrick, but Patrick didn't pay any attention to them. Patrick wanted to join the Association of Sandwich Clubs (as it was now called), partly because they were the only people in town who would put up with a grumpy old butcher like him, but mostly because he saw a way of annoying Roger.
So Patrick put up notices all over town.
"New Chapter of the Bacon Sandwich Club" they said.
"The Association of Bacon Sandwich Clubs Has A New Chapter."
"All the Bacon Sandwich Clubs serve Bacon - We Serve the Best. "
"Free Bacon Sandwiches to all members."
In the small print, the posters said "In common with all the other chapters of the association of Bacon Sandwich Clubs, all members must eat at least one bacon sandwich each week." He even put out little membership cards which said:
"Clause 4 of the Sandwich Club Manifesto: 'For too long, we have been pretending to eat beef sandwiches and cheese ones. No longer will we pay any attention to anti-Bacon Nazis! We've all been eating bacon for years! Join me, and experience a new dimension in taste! Sausages! Gammon! Ham! Pigs Trotters! Oysters, lobsters, prawns! Cheeseburgers! Animals which chew the cud but divide not the hoof.' "
Of course, this made Roger the Rabbi very angry. He jumped up and down, and screamed, and tore down all the posters. So Patrick put up some more, and Roger tore them down again. This went on for days!
But secretly, Roger was happy. He was happy because he liked getting cross, and he was happy because he knew he had won. He kept copies of some of the posters that he pulled down, and sent them to Ron the Rabbi with a message saying "I told you so."
It was a very sad Jerry who arrived at his synagogue the next Saturday. All his friends were looking at him in a funny way, and his mother said that it would be the death of her yet, but what could you do, children were like that and he probably knew best, after all, he was young and had his whole life in front of him, there was no reason for him to worry about breaking the heart of an old lady like her.
Jerry knew that there was no point arguing with Patrick, and certainly no point in arguing with Roger. Even Ron, although he was very good and very wise, could no longer quite believe that Jerry was telling the truth. Jerry was very sad, but he knew what he had to do.
Not very many people went to Patrick's club, even though it held the best barbecues. After only a few weeks, it closed. So did most of the other chapters. Sidney the Seventh Day Adventist still holds meetings in his church hall after service; and Roger the Rabbi still scowls at them from over the road. They know all the answers to the Trivial Pursuit, and they now play Magic the Gathering instead.
But they all agree that it isn't as much fun without Jerry.