On Sunday in the early evening I was sitting outside our church building, in the middle of some writing, when two of our older parishioners turned up and started talking to me. (No ‘by your leave’, note.) The lady started telling me how she had had breast cancer, and how powerful prayer was (how powerful God is, I corrected her mildly).

I expected she would say that the tumour had shrunk or disappeared, but no. She had had an operation and spoke of how she had prayed and prayed and had been answered, by way of the fact that she didn’t have to have chemotherapy – just radiotherapy.

Her face wrinkled happily, her bright eyes becoming creases, and she lit up a cigarette.

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