Wear Brahn Boots on the Day of Judgment

Oct 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Spirituality

Twenty years ago circumstances conspired to provide me with an invitation to dine at the top table at a university dinner. I had arrived in my best suit and with an academic gown borrowed from one of the Dublin clergy. My host wore his professorial gown as we lined up to enter the dining hall. Alongside us was a young lecturer, dressed casually and with no gown.

Suddenly the young lecturer said, “Oh no! The Provost is here and I didn’t bring a gown. Aghh! There goes my career”.

I didn’t take the man very seriously until my host said, “Ian, would you do him a great favour and lend him that gown? You are quite correct to have worn it, but it is not required of guests. Academics are expected to be properly dressed.”

I took off the gown and the young academic wrapped it gratefully around his shoulders and avoided catching the eye, and presumably the wrath, of the Provost. My host smiled, “I never understood that story in the Bible about the man not having a wedding garment”.

The man in the parable is thrown out of the feast because he has not bothered to make the effort to dress properly.

After dinner at our clergy conference last night, a speaker recited  Stanley Holloway’s Brahn Boots. Cousin Jim in Brahn Boots might have failed the sort of dress test that would get him into a university dinner, but Jim has a reason for doing so:

Our Aunt Hanna’s passed away,
We ‘ad her funeral today,
And it was a posh affair,
Had to have two p’licemen there!

The ‘earse was luv’ly, all plate glass,
And wot a corfin!… oak and brass!
We’d fah-sands weepin’, flahers galore,
But Jim, our cousin… what d’yer fink ‘e wore?

Why, brahn boots!
I ask yer… brahn boots!
Fancy coming to a funeral
In brahn boots!

I will admit ‘e ‘ad a nice black tie,
Black fingernails and a nice black eye;
But yer can’t see people orf when they die,
In brahn boots!

And Aunt ‘ad been so very good to ‘im,
Done all that any muvver could for ‘im,
And Jim, her son, to show his clars…
Rolls up to make it all a farce,

In brahn boots…
I ask yer… brahn boots!
While all the rest,
Wore decent black and mourning suits.

I’ll own he didn’t seem so gay,
In fact he cried most part the way,
But straight, he reg’lar spoilt our day,
Wiv ‘is brahn boots.

In the graveyard we left Jim,
None of us said much to him,
Yus, we all gave ‘im the bird,
Then by accident we ‘eard …

‘E’d given ‘is black boots to Jim Small,
A bloke wot ‘ad no boots at all,
So p’raps Aunt Hanna doesn’t mind,
She did like people who was good and kind.

But brahn boots!
I ask yer… brahn boots!
Fancy coming to a funeral,
In brahn boots!

And we could ‘ear the neighbours all remark
“What, ‘im chief mourner? Wot a blooming lark!
“Why ‘e looks more like a Bookmaker’s clerk…
In brahn boots!”

That’s why we ‘ad to be so rude to ‘im,
That’s why we never said “Ow do!” to ‘im,
We didn’t know… he didn’t say,
He’d give ‘is other boots away.

But brahn boots!
I ask yer… brahn boots!
While all the rest,
Wore decent black and mourning suits!

But some day up at Heaven’s gate,
Poor Jim, all nerves, will stand and wait,
’til an angel whispers… “Come in, Mate,
“Where’s yer brahn boots?”

Brahn Boots should be recited every time lines are read from Saint Matthew’s Chapter 6 because they illustrate better than any sermon what Jesus is talking about:

Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Being dressed for a university dinner is very different from being dressed for heaven.


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