Humourous extract from my novella, ‘So Sister,’ which usually goes down well at readings, delivered in my corny Irish accent. The girls in the Geography class at the protagonist’s convent school delight in leading this delightful nun off her subject:


The main aim in Geography lessons, and source of delight to the Fifth-formers, once achieved, was to lead Sister Patrick off her subject. When she was discussing the effects of climate on vegetation, and had just introduced the tropics, Chloe Fitzgerald put her hand up.

“Please, Sister, we’re going to the West Indies next year. My father’s business is sending him there,” she said coyly.” I believe it’s tropical?”

Sister Patrick paused.

“Sub-tropical, dear. ‘Though it can be very hot. And of course there are the so-called Trade Winds.” She turned back to the blackboard.

Chloe looked round at the other girls slyly, and continued.

“We’re flying out there next summer. I can’t wait. I don’t know how I’ll get used to the heat though.”

Sister Patrick put down her chalk and rested her hands on her hips. The girls glanced at each other triumphantly. She was off.

“Now one thing you girls must remember,” the nun began. The girls listened intently.

“Never wear a bikini,” she preached.

Nobody questioned her. They knew she would continue indefinitely if her distraction was undisturbed.

“Because,” her eyes swept over them sternly, “you don’t know what it does to a man.”

Silence. To Sister Patrick it conveyed that they were riveted by her wordly wisdom, which encouraged her. To Madeleine it meant that were stifling laughter, as she was.

Sister Patrick also once told them, intriguingly, that she could have gone ‘either way,’ and had chosen to become a nun. Madeleine had imagined her, dressed in the bishop’s vestments of her namesake, Saint Patrick, mists swirling round her feet as she stood, bemused, at a crossroads in an Irish country lane. The shepherd’s crook in her hand was pointing down one path, the cross in the other hand indicating the opposite direction. Now she had another vision: Sister Patrick on a sun-drenched beach in a vibrant bikini, her wimple still on her head, and under her sandaled feet, a gagging serpent squirming.