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  • St Christopher once served a demon. A seven foot Canaanite, he set out to find the greatest king there was. His first master crossed himself and told him he feared Satan. So Christopher left, in search of more illustrious company. He fell in with a thief who swore blind that he was the devil. In the dark one night he spooked and fled from an Antioch cross. A stone Christ watching travellers on the road. So Christopher set out to find him instead.

    All this was long before his stood, hip deep in the swirling waters of a turkish torrent. His load far heavier than the child on his shoulders. His master found.

    I met him once, out of time, still ferrying others over dangerous waters. Prosaically perhaps, he turned up first in the waiting room of a faceless government agency where I worked. It was supposed to help children who had fallen through the cracks. Who were still wondering which side of the chasm to grip. Christopher had been caught force feeding another child soap. Was about to be kicked out of his foster home for bullying. He had a sweet open face and I spent an afternoon helping him with his forms. Pestering his social worker on her cigarette break.

    Later that night cutting across Clapham Common in the dark - a stupid idea - I stepped off the path onto the streaming grass. Aiming for my front door on the other side, far away from the gloomy sulphur pools of the streetlights, I heard two pairs of feet running behind me. The devil and his equerry. Turned - saw the glitter of something in a hand. Realised that the key digging into my palm wouldn't save me. And then? Saw his face. My saint Christopher. His face as frozen and surprised as mine. Then the shy grin - "Sorry, darlin' - my mistake". His friend, confused - a hand on his shoulder as he was turned.

    I had been ferried across the dark pool of the common to my front door. Christopher still working his passage. A good turn returned, doubled and divided.
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