Saturday, 30 November 2013

The John Lewis Xmas Ad Actors - Where have you Gone?

The Bear - found that sleeping for six months of the year does nothing for your lasting popularity. By the time he woke up, it was all steam-punk koalas. A six-month marriage to Ulrika Jonsson broke down due to his honey obsession. A faded, drunken has-been, he was reduced to starring in 3rd-rate sitcoms, and playing walk-on parts as "large carnivore sitting at the far table" in Eastenders.

The Badgers - Announced the stress of sudden fame had got to them, and moved to Somerset. Not generally regarded as a great career move.

The Hare - Bolstered an initially promising stand-up career with a succession of appearances on popular news panel games, where she brilliantly undercut her "Mrs Goody-four-paws" image by making vicious remarks about the Duchess of Cambridge. Now mostly to be found on Dave.

The Fox Cubs - Displaced Jedward as the "endearing but gormless twins" on a number of reality TV shows. Realising they were not getting the kind of serious TV parts they had hoped for, "Reynard"  went on to feature on "Strictly Come Dancing" as the long-running novelty act, "Bruce's Syrup". The other formed a "John Lewis Tribute Band", playing back-numbers from John Lewis Xmas adverts. This rather limited repertoire - they could only get gigs in December - led to the band splitting up, and "Foxy" has ended up living out of what he can find in dustbins. Which he reckons is the highlight of his career. He is, after all, a fox.

The Owl - Went on to make a number of successful films starring alongside Daniel Radcliffe. With the end of the "Potter" series, there is talk of bringing back "Owl TV". After four failed marriages, he is currently one of Angelina Jolie's adopted children.

The Deer - After flopping in the remake of Bambi, and a failed career as extras in Santa's grotto, they've got new jobs in the catering industry. As venison steaks.

(if you don't know what this is about - the ad is here) John Lewis on YouTube Xmas  (guessing the in-post ad won't last long)

On Liturgical Advent Coinciding with Retail Advent

The good news tomorrow is, it's the start of both Liturgical Advent and Retail Advent! So try not to get melted chocolate from the calendars on the serious suits.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Meanwhile in London....

Two trainee vicars from St Mellitus were stopped by police at a busy junction today while they were on their Pastoral Cycles.

They weren't wearing Theologically Reflective clothing. And only one was wearing a helmet of salvation.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Pilling Report - Your Questions Answered

Q: So what's in the Pilling Report?

A: We don't know. We've not got round to reading it yet.

Q: Will Same-Sex Marriages be allowed in Church?

A: Nope. Or, not yet. Maybe one day. Let's all talk about it.

Q: Can there be a service of blessing?

A: Obviously,  we've not actually read the report. But can we refer you to this "Service of Not Blessing" we previously published?

Q: Will Gafcon be annoyed?

A: Oh, yeah.  Goes without saying.

Q: And will gay rights campaigners say it's just a small step in the right direction?
A: We suspect so. Some of them. Others will talk about enshrining bigotry and prejudice.

Q: Will there be services where basically everybody looks like a member of Village People?

A: Only where that is already the tradition of the parish.

Q: What will happen where a vicar wants to conduct a not-a-blessing, but the congregation objects?

A: There will be a bust-up at the PCC, letters to the Bishop; then everybody will muddle through, but never quite forgive. This is the Church of England, after all.

Q: If all ordination candidates will have to agree to order their lives in accordance with the Church's traditional teaching on sexual conduct - what will this mean in practice?

A: Oh look!  Comet Ison! Did you see it?  Wow - look....

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

25 Signs Your Church May Have Some Priorities Wrong


  1. Under-16s are banned from Mass so people can concentrate on being holy.
  2. People worry about doing things that would upset Mabel. Even though she's been 6 feet under the churchyard for a decade.
  3. All your decisions are made with regard to the possibility of future reunion with the Russian Orthodox Church.
  4. The notices are longer than the Gospel reading.
  5. The minister commences the Communion part of the service by saying "but enough about me...".
  6. Everybody is on Twitter, ready for the first heresy of the day.
  7. The candles are put on the Communion Table by someone equipped with a set-square and a laser measure. 
  8. There is a heated PCC debate over whether you should translate the Hail Mary into modern English.
  9. You are fundraising to get the memorials cleaned.
  10. The curate and the vicar are each so desperate to lead Communion every week themselves, that the curate uses the Lady Chapel and you have to install a hagioscope.
  11. The Mission Group concludes that "There's not much point, there's probably no churchy people out there". 
  12. The Parish Profile takes 12 months to write, due to a disagreement over the spelling of "oecumenical". 
  13. The Parish Profile takes 12 months to write, due to a disagreement over the spelling of "ecumenical". (Burton insisted we put this one in to balance number 12)
  14. No Carol Service leaflets are put up in Tesco, as people from other parishes might read it and be evangelised.
  15. The Guitarist is told she can't play until she upgrades her Squier to a "proper" Strat.
  16. The homeless person in the porch is asked if he can sleep in the hedge, as the town Carol Service is to be held in the churchyard and he's putting people off  thinking about the real meaning of Christmas.
  17. The Electoral Roll Officer includes people who emigrated in the 70s, so they don't feel left out.
  18. The vicar cancels all services in October to keep the Parish Share down.
  19. If any vicar fails to light the Easter Fire, they are instantly sacked as the judgement of God is upon them.
  20. The Carol Service is held in April so as not to attract regulars.
  21. The Organist accidentally picks something the congregation can sing.
  22. The Outreach Group explicitly excludes "obvious sinners" from their Mission Statement.
  23. The first female vicar has her name put on the big board on the wall. In pink letters. 
  24. The children's corner contains a scrap of old carpet and some third-hand toys. And is sound-proofed. And in the Church Hall.
  25. The minister starts each sermon with "And so to chapter X of my new book..."
  26. You write 25 Signs Your Church May Have Some Priorities Wrong, and don't use the word "poor".

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Unravelling the Story of the "Extra Doctor"

It's always so hard, working out the trail of "Doctors". Are there twelve doctors? 13? Or maybe many many more? 33, some say. Especially when the so-called "War Doctor" is considered. But this little guide may help.

The first Doctor, William Hartnell, regenerated into St Athanasius. He was martyred by the Soltarans, but regenerated into Tom Baker. Tom Baker famously wrote his "Confessions", and was then replaced by John Chrysostom. Having a golden tongue was useful in the early days of the Cybermen, as they were notoriously easy to inactivate with that element. John himself was not so happy, as he had to spend much of his active life licking Cybermen. Augustine replaced John, but spent a lot of time defending Gallifrey from the surrounding Daleks.

After Augstine's time, the whole "Doctor" concept fell out of favour. Eventually, the sequence was restored with introduction of the tough, edgy Northerner, Anselm. Hildegard of Bingen then made history by being the first female Doctor, before normality was restored with David Tennant. He survived being accused of Pelagianism, when he claimed that, by travelling backwards in time to before his own conversion, he could bring about his own Salvation.

And so we come to the present day. as the aggressive, sweary Bernard of Clairvaux threatens to be the next doctor, having  made his name in "The Thick of It". One thing is for certain, as longs as their keenest fans keep turning up to conferences wearing their extravagant fancy dress (birettas, zucchettim cassocks, etc), the franchise will keep on running!


Monday, 25 November 2013

Will Questions About the Readiness of the 2024 Olympics be Asked in Time?

Just 11 years away now, there are concerns that nobody has asked whether the stadiums for the 2024 Olympics will be ready in time.

Questions about whether hosts are ready for major sporting events are always asked well in advance of the games themselves. For example, the Guardian was asking whether the London Olympics would be late, as early as 2006. And the Japanese, with their characteristic efficiency, are already causing people to worry about the Tokyo Olympics. The Russians could be guaranteed to raise concerns nice and early before the 2018 World Cup, of course.

The questions as to whether the Athens Olympics stadiums were ready were asked very late indeed - indeed, the Telegraph only pulled its finger out and started asking about Athens 2004 as late as May in that year. But the concerns about whether Qatar can hold the World Cup in 2022 are already well on track.

In Brazil, things are well on track for both the upcoming events. Worries about the building of stadiums for the 2014 World Cup are coming along nicely, while doubts about the 2016 Olympics are also being expressed.

But there has been no concern at all about the 2024 Olympics. Nobody has worried, no articles have been written. This might be because we don't know where they will be yet, but that shouldn't stop the papers getting on with the project. After all, they worry about every other event - why let a little thing like not knowing who the host will be, slow things down? But if questions aren't raised soon, there is a danger that nobody may ask them at all.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Management-speak Church Mission Statement

It has taken months, and there has been much organisational blood on the Moot House carpet, but I think we have finally reached a Church Mission Statement we can all sign up to.

As a proactive fellowship benefiting from a synergistic, consultational organisational structure; empowering the grassroots while committing to strong, directive, facilitative leadership; remaining rooted in our foundational principles but looking to expand our commitment to gaining evangelistic traction, we hereby commit to pushing the envelope, mission-wise, until we get our visionary principles over the line, ongoing.

I am just sure there is something missing...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Beer Blogging in Northamptonshire

Dear Readers, I am taking the opportunity to write  this live blog from a pop-up pub!

It is one of Bedford Station's great virtues that it is only one stop from Wellingborough. And it is one of Wellingborough's great virtues that it is home to Hart Family Brewery. Who are fine brewers of marvellous real beer. I write this blog from the heart of the brewery building, where I am consuming their Winter Red.

A heavy,  full-bodied winter ale of 5%, it has little hop attack but a host of lingering hoppy bitter after taste. I think I shall have another. I give it 6.9 octas on the Pauli Exclusive Scale  And if only I had brought a bike like the brewery's, to take some home. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

St Arbucks

Typical.  All that time trawling the Web for "St Arbucks", the conviction that it was original and then we suddenly find this. Saint Arbucks. They fooled us by putting the full word in the URL and the abbreviated "St" only in images, which Google can't see.

In many respects, we blame St Arbucks. They should be better at SEO. But maybe they have other things to do. So there you have it.

"There is nothing new under the sun". 

Letters to the Church Magazine (3)

Dear Sir

There is a hole in the roof directly above the rear right-hand pew. It's quite a large hole and if we have a rainstorm I notice that the bucket that is placed under the drip can quickly become quite full.
Whenever I press the Church Wardens on the matter,  they say that because it requires replacing some limestone tiles, it will need a faculty. Also in the recent winds it was judged too dangerous for the builders to get up on the roof for an estimate.

This is all very well, but it is taking forever. Some Sunday mornings I go home soaked. If the weather turns really bad, I'm seriously considering sitting in another pew.

Yours etc

Mandy Pandy (Mrs)


Dear Sir

In the recent Synod debate on women bishops, it was suggested the arrangements for traditional parishes amounted to letting them choose their own bishops.

If so,  I suggest Graham Norton. He seems very nice. And I saw him on TV once in a dog collar, so I guess he must be SSM?

Yours etc

Kayleigh Bailey


Dear Sir

I'm afraid that since I have discovered a new, exciting place to worship, I will no longer be attending St Myrtle's.

It's a cutting-edge form of fellowshipping, called "cafe church". And they're so friendly - the acolytes always greet you warmly,  even asking my name - a really nice touch. My friend Jean introduced me to it, and she never used to be religious - shows how good their evangelism is!

They're not into heavy fund-raising and tithing, either. Unlike some churches I could mention, with particularly grasping treasurers (I'm looking at you, Gordon!), they're just happy to accept a minimum contribution for the coffee.

They accept all genders and sexualities, no questions asked.  And, although they're a bit light on theology, everyone feels thoroughly welcomed.

I really like it at St Arbuck's.

Yours etc

Walter "Smiffy" Smith


Dear Sir

People worry about inter-faith marriages. But it is our Silver Wedding next year, and we have never had a cross word.

My wife's Methodism has never taken an extreme form - indeed, her beliefs often appear to be almost the same as Christians. However, a certain sensitivity around her religious festivals is required. We have guinea pigs, and I always ensure she has no opportunity of sacrificing them and inspecting their entrails on Aldersgate Sunday.

Yours etc

Tim Tang



Dear Sir

Every Sunday the vicar follows me home, cooks me dinner, sits in my living room, and waits until Downton Abbey is on. Then she drinks my gin and abuses the characters for being "posh".

Some would say she's just being overly keen in pastoral matters, but it makes me uncomfortable. And I don't care if she is my wife. She should back off.

Yours etc

(Name with-held for safety reasons)


Dear Sir

Concerning the debate about what to call the vicar, if we can't call her "Father". Personally I just call her "Matron". She doesn't like it, but it makes me feel very comfortable.

Yours etc

Travis Perkins


Dear Sir

All this talk of lead thieves.  I do something about it, and all I get are complaints.

Yes, the gentleman in question was left dangling from the gutter, after I pushed his ladder over. But he wasn't there long.  Oh no. After I poked him with one of the Scouts' flags, he soon fell off.  Problem solved.

Yours etc

Gilly Killingam


Dear Sir

Tried, with no success, to access the new, exciting Church so-called website today. Absolutely rubbish. Couldn't even find it.

My grandson  tells me that this is because I don't have an Internet connection. Or a computer. Or a mobile phone. But this is not good enough.

The church's social media policy has clearly failed. The man who burnt William Tyndale has won. I shall have to read my exhaustive archives of the Church Magazine instead.

Yours etc

Chalky "Chalky" Chalke

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Women Bishops Vote - The Papers Respond

Sun - Kaylie, 18, is hoping to be Bishop of Gloucester, just as soon as Ant and Dec let her onto Boot Camp...

Telegraph - The "Reformation" Experiment has Failed

Mirror - Tories allow Women to be Bishops - so You can lose your benefits

Star - "Diana would have made a great Archbishop" - Psychic

Guardian - The Church of England makes a Liberal Concession to Conservatives, but still won't last past Tuesday

Independent - We're still here!  We're still here!  Please - will somebody read us?

Express - Polar Killer Storm will Sweep Canterbury 

Mail -  Will Women Bishops give you Cancer?

Times  - **************** SUBSCRIBE TO READ OUR ARTICLE ON THE WOMEN BISHOPS VOTE ****************

Former Archbishops of Canterbury Give Insight into Nonsense Poetry (I)

The Owl and the Pussycat 

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
    How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
    But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
    To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
    With a ring at the end of his nose,
          His nose,
          His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
    Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
    By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

George Carey warned us this kind of thing would happen.

The Bombshell Falls on Shocked Ears

Shocked and stunned,  Dear Readers.

Shocked and stunned.

When Charlii went through a handfasting with Young Keith, I thought little of it.  Beaker Folk are always holding handfasting ceremonies - they are cheap, convenient, joyful occasions.

Importantly, they also have no legal connotations. Beaker Folk are free to fasten hands with other people of all genders or none. If they go off their handfasted partner they can hold a simple ceremony of Plate-throwing to dissolve the relationship, and go off and fasten hands with another, possibly more suitable, handfastee.

But it does seem wrong, all things considered, that Young Keith has taken advantage of his handfasted situation, actually to have sexual relations with Charlii. I presume this is what has happened.  Obviously there are alternative explanations for her pregnancy, but they would all involve Young Keith looking a lot less pleased with himself than he currently does.

It's not that I hadn't considered the possibility that this sort of thing was going on, of course. What with both living in the same Trainee Archdruid's Suite (a one-bedroom affair) I could imagine something might be going on. But I put it to the back of my mind.

But now the evidence is before us every day. And will become more evident with time  We have an Acting Archdruid who has had sex with a man! How can we take any notice of anything she says, knowing this fact?  What guarantee do we have that, in future, any leadership we are offered is not, in fact, Keith's leadership - where he has used his position to ensure he gets a say? Not that I believe that a man is the head of the household. Oh no. But maybe just a bit. Obviously. I mean, it stands to reason, doesn't it?

But I am bound to Husborne Crawley by deep bonds. Or, to be exact, I am bound to be the Treasurer forever, as Eileen won my soul in that game of poker. I cannot describe the things I imagine, Dear Readers, but my daily nightmare continues.

Monday, 18 November 2013

If the General Synod Voted for "I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here"

25 August 2002 - Uri Geller, Nigel Benn, Darren Day, Rhona Cameron, Nell McAndrew, Christine Hamilton, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Tony Blackburn enter the Jungle.

 26 August 2002 - After the first Bush Tucker Trial, the Old Etonians in Synod remark they don't know what the fuss is all about - they used to eat that kind of stuff all the time at school.

 3 Sept 2002 - The first eviction vote. After a show of hands is inconclusive, it goes to voting by houses.

 5 Sept 2002 - It is agreed that Rhona Cameron can stay in the jungle, as long as she promises not to mention her sexuality at any point.

8 Sept 2002 - Somebody gives a long speech about how her auntie once went to Australia, and found a spider in the toilet. In a hilarious punch-line, it wasn't poisonous after all.

12 Sept 2002 - The second eviction having been inconclusive, it is agreed to refer the question to the dioceses.

2003 - The big question of who should be evicted is debated at PCCs, deanery and diocesan synods. Due to poor timing, no answers are returned until 2004.

Feb 2004 - It is obvious that Nigel Benn is the big favourite in the dioceses to get kicked out. Traditionalists complain that they wanted Darren Day to get the boot. A vote is put off while people try to find a way of satisfying both parties.

Jul 2004 - Great concern that, if Uri Geller is voted off, it may damage ecumenical relations with the psychics.

Feb 2005 - It is agreed that, while women can do the Bush Tucker Trial, they are not allowed to be Camp Leaders.

July 2006 - A compromise proposal that Tara Palmer-Tompkinson be voted off is blocked by the people who went to school with her father.

Feb 2007 - After Mylene Klass is dropped into the jungle, several of the older male Synod delegates need urgent medical attention.

Feb 2008 - The Bishops suggest an alternative solution. By splitting the camp into two parts, one group can watch a version where Nigel Benn has been evicted, while the other half can believe it's Darren Day who got kicked out.

June 2008 - Meeting in Jerusalem, Gafcon votes for Christine Hamilton to be evicted. some members of Synod say they have a point - others decide the best course is simply to ignore them and carry on.

July 2009 - After another 18 months without an eviction, MPs start to suggest that maybe Parliament should produce legislation overruling Synod, just to get somebody out.

Nov 2010 - After years of research, Synod finally manages to answer the question everyone has been asking - what is "Iceland", and why do Mums want to go there?

Feb 2011 - A member of the Prayer Book Society regrets the use of modern "slang" on the show. It's all very well being "down with the kids", he says, but what is wrong with the beautiful, mellifluous English of Cranmer? Why have a "Bush Tucker Trial" when you could have "and they did eat of locusts and honey?".

Nov 2011 - The big Evangelical churches have threatened to withhold their parish share if Rhona Cameron isn't voted out.

Feb 2012 - After too much sherry at lunch, three bishops vote for Rowan Williams to be evicted. They are stunned by the speedy response.

Jul 2012 - Somebody asks what this "I'm a Celebrity" thing is they've been discussed, gives a long account of their faith journey, then realises they're speaking on a debate on church drains.

Nov 2013 - It is pointed out that Tony Blackburn is a 70 year old white male. He is elected "King of the Jungle" on a show of hands.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Wedding in the Offing

That's odd. Young Keith is never normally that white.

All he did was answer the phone to his mum, based on the message he left earlier, and give her the news. You'd not think good news would be so distressing.

Anyway, it looks like I'd better be looking for something suitable in white. Or, possibly, lilac.

On an Occasional Folk Music Celebration

Our "Thomas Hardy Folk" evening was a great success.

Thanks to Burton, who eschewed his usual Sunday evening trip up the line to Kettering, instead to drag his nerdy folky friends down here for an evening of "the folksongs of Wessex".

It makes you wonder, The songs of beer and celebration - the release and relief. These songs were produced by people who toiled terribly, in physical labour and pain, all week - and then let themselves go, just occasionally, in the joy of a cider and beer-fuelled folk-singing frenzy.

It was wonderful. In memory of the people that inspired this evening, we will do this kind of thing every evening.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

It's Christmas!!!




Farver Beccles is happy because it's Christmas.
Burton had to go shopping today. And while looking for superglue in the 99p Shop (which seems to have undercut Poundland), he heard "Silent Night" being played on the tannoy.
Snow!

Which means it must be Christmas! So the minute we got the call that the first shop-based Christmas carol (we refuse to include Smiths songs) had been heard, we got the place done up. So the Bling is on! The Singing Ringing Tree is lit!

Singing Ringing Tree
The Beaker Bazaar is now fully kitted out and ready to go.....
The Beaker Bazaar gets an Xmas facelift!
So as happy Beaker Folk sing carols, cram mince pies into their maws and pretend to be in Dickens novels, all that is left for me is to plan the "New Year" activities - the Watchnight Service, Hootenanny and First-Footing. In keeping with tradition, they will start on Christmas Eve this year. But until then - a Happy Christmas!  And God bless us one and all.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Structure of the Church of England

Somebody on Twitter was saying, is there anybody able to describe the structure of the Church of England? I'll be honest, what did I know? So I phoned Eileen, who gave me a quick description, and I drew it up. It seemed to me that the key elements that describe the structure of the Church of England are
(a) The top-down nature of Bishops, managing through Rural Deans / Archdeacons, down to local priests
(b) The bottom-up system of "checks and balances", whereby the local congregation elect PCCs, who elect Deanery Synods, above which are Diocesan Synods, above which are the General Synod.  This can be graphically represented, in organisational terms, thus:

Idealised structure of the Church of England
This seemed to me a bit idealised. Too simple, not what I had heard. So I phoned Eileen back, emailed her the image and said - are you sure this is right?

And she said to me - "Church of England? I thought you were after the structure of the John Lewis Partnership."

Idealised structure of the John Lewis Partnership
And so I realised I would have to start again. It turns out that the Church of England is indeed more complex that this. So I have left Burton Dasset to try to work it out. He was working in 6 dimensions last I heard.

And so my conclusions are twofold. The first is that the John Lewis Partnership seems to have a more rational structure than the Church of England - albeit not totally dissimilar. And the second is that, if the Church of England advertising campaign this Christmas features a Smiths Song, an animated bear and a bunch of rabbits, we will know why.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Christian New Media Awards 1557

Dedication to Bible Translation

- William Tyndale

Best new Prayer Book 

 - Thomas Cranmer

 Most Memorable Quotation in a Martyrdom Situation 

 - Hugh Latimer

Most Determined Attempt to Annoy Everybody by a Renaissance Man

- Michael Servetus

Best Small Church Project

- The Moravian Brethren

Best Art Project

- Michaelangelo

Best Overseas New Media Innovation

- Johannes Gutenberg

Biggest Impact on the Standardisation of the English Language

- William Caxton

Sufferer of the Most Ludicrous Post-Mortem Condemnation

- John Wycliffe

Best Satirical Publication

- Dante, "The Divine Comedy"

Biggest Treacherous Rat-bag

- Sigismund of Luxembourg

Most Implausible yet Irresistible Claim by an Evil Get that a Short-term Expedient has Divine Sanction

- Henry VIII of England for his "Dissolution of the Monasteries"
(Runner-up Henry VIII of England for his "English Reformation")
(3rd place Henry VIII of England for his "no honest, Ann Boleyn is definitely guilty)

Most Imaginative Use of Books (as a fuel)

- Thomas More

Most creative use of a Door

- Martin Luther

Curly Kate Pays Tribute to the Fallen

It was a moment of weakness. I should not have done it. But the shop had run out of Telegraphs while the Times, like the Sun, is still banned from the Beaker Community.

So I bought the Daily Mail.  I was not thinking. And when I returned to the Great House, and laid my paper down on the collective breakfast table, Charlii noticed the headline.

"Curly Kate's salute to the Fallen", it reads.

Charlii was livid. In vain did I point out that, in other parts of the paper, it was reported that Trinny (or possibly Susannah) has been out to dinner.  She was not interested in the danger that Sven Goran Ericsson's former girlfriend might be rejoining ABBA, or that the entire population of Romania is moving to Woking.

Charlii fails to see how, on the day when we remember the millions of dead of past and indeed current wars, the hairstyle of a young woman could merit the first half of the headline, and all the attention in the article. This would suggest that shallow celebrity is more important than marking immense sacrifice, suffering and grief. The Mail should be ashamed. Indeed, according to Charlii, if the Mail had any concept of shame it would crawl back under its journalistic rock.

I naturally totally agreed with her, but said in passing that Duchess Kate does seem to have done a good job at hiding the grey hair that she was showing the other day.

If folded correctly, the Daily Mail can make quite a mark on your forehead. I do not know where Charlii learned that skill, but I can guess.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Have you Made Your Mark in Social Media?


I was thinking that, since Eileen our Archdruid Emeritus went on Sabbatical, we haven't had anything quite like the Lord of the Dance Risk Calculator or the Hardy Plot Generator. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm dragging behind Eileen on the social media tools, and I'm just as capable of threatening Burton until he writes some Javascript as anyone. So the Beaker Folk are glad to present the Social Media Influence Mark Calculator - so you can answer that all-important questions - "Have I made my Mark in Social Media?






How many endorsements do you have on LinkedIn? 








Friday, 8 November 2013

Letters to the Church Magazine (2)

Sir - I have noted with delight the new church Facebook page. It is important that we're "up with the times" and "down with the kids". However, I do not have a computer.

Please could you print off the Facebook page every month and publish it as part of the Church Magazine?

Yours etc

Philip Reade-Swydeley.


Sir - I would like to thank you, and everybody in the parish, for the marvelous farewell party that you gave me. I was delighted with the wonderful set of golf clubs, and Susan has made many lovely recipes with "Jamie's Pukka Pastry", the cook-book you so kindly all gave her.

After a few months in Australia visiting my grandchildren, I am pleased to let you all know that I've moved into Honey Cottage, between "Dawkins" and the Old Custom House. I've let Bury & Shroud, our local undertakers, know that I'm available at ten minutes' notice should anyone die. And I'll happily marry the family members of any old friends from the parish. Indeed, I'm happy to chip in should anyone want any "additional" communion services held, in any down-time between the services that the new "vicar" is conducting.

I love to see my old friends, so why not just pop in for a chat about how good things were in the "old days"?

Yours etc,

Canon Neal Softener

Sir - I note that there are approximately 5,000 houses on the estate, and yet I know for a fact that the vicar has not visited most of the people that live here. In a random survey (I knocked on a number of houses in our street) only two people had actually received visits, and both of them had suffered bereavements since the vicar arrived. Not arrived at their door, you understand Arrived as incumbent.

I think it would set a good example if the vicar set herself a target of visiting, say, 100 houses a week. In this way, she will be raising the church's profile and providing great pastoral support. I realise she may find this quite daunting - indeed, she's not even started on this important task. But if she needs any assistance, I will happily lend her my spare torch, to help her find her way round on dark evenings.

Yours etc

Sydney Carters-Aheretic.

Sir - I think it is wonderful that St Myrtle's still has an open churchyard. So often these days, churchyards are closed to new burials or, worse, they have had all the stones cleared from the graves and arranged "tidily" around the churchyard walls. But a living churchyard, if I may call it that, where people are still returned to the earth to sleep with their ancestors, is a real visible sign of the Communion of Saints.

However, with an open churchyard - and occasionally open graves, which have just been dug and are awaiting their occupants - go certain health and safety issues. It would be better if, when such new graves are dug, they are surrounded by reflective tape or - at night - some flashing lights. These would be great medium-term goals. However, in the short term, please can someone get me out?

Yours etc

Charlie Chayfes-Baddley (via email)

Sir - I would like to protest most vigorously against last week's letter by Corin Apple.

Among some otherwise quite good suggestions about how to improve the church weekly newsletter, Mr Apple suggests that "the font is a bit old-fashioned, and could do with updating. Gothic is not very accessible, and perhaps something without serifs would be more user-friendly." In the first place, I would point out that the font is Perpendicular, not Gothic. Secondly, the font has been in this church for 400 years, and you will change it over my dead body. Thirdly, I don't think those are serifs. They're some kind of cherub. And the traditional spelling, in any case, is "seraphim".

Yours etc

Colonel Norman Grinnes-Wideley (retired)


Sir  - I have tolerated the new music group without much complaint. Nobody ever proved it was me that placed the nitroglycerine in the sound box of that guitar.

And now it seems we have a drummer in the music group! Now I know that the carpers will carp. But I will not do this. I am happy to welcome "Wilbur" as the latest addition to the corporate Sunday worship of our little community.

I just have one request. It seems to me that Wilbur's drum kit is not terribly well located. I think it would be a vast improvement if he played about 6 feet to the right. Just the other side of the North wall.

Yours etc

Barton Seagrave

Dear Sir - Why do we always call you "Sir" when we know your name is Audrey?

Yours etc

Roderick Headstone

Google Doodle Ink spot Muddle

I think it is lovely that Google is celebrating Rorschach's birthday with a doodle.

However, I do not understand why they included a picture of my mother.

Letters to the Church Magazine

Sir - I note that the Head Server is no longer wearing pink lipstick. My great-aunt first donated a pink lipstick to St Myrtle's in her will, and subsequent Head Servers have honoured her memory. Just because the current Head Server is a 17st shot-blaster called "Tyson" does not mean you should blatantly dishonour the dead like this.

Yours etc

Arthur Wilmington-Bassett



Sir - The new Church Magazine cover features a fine picture of the Church, standing amongst our ancient and beautiful yew trees.

The previous picture used on the cover was from a 16th century wood print, where the yews were much younger. As a result the old picture gave us a view of the statue of St Myrtle, which was removed by the Roundheads in 1646.

If you continue with this new-fangled magazine cover, Cromwell will have won. Please rectify.

Yours etc

Major Stoneleigh-Hearted



Dear Sir

I have not been to St Myrtle's since you appointed a vicar with a beard. I believe the new minister is a woman; but you're not catching me out like that. Oh no.

Yours etc

Doris Morris


Dear Sir

My grandson has just logged me onto your new website thing. I was appalled.

I suppose one has to move with the times, but I was expecting to see an archive of all the old magazines, scanned and recorded for a worldwide readership. The Church Magazine goes back to 1654". Its first headline being "Xmas Fayre cancelled due to Christmas being cancelled." If you do not get these archives onto the site,  Cromwell will have won

I remember a particularly good article I submitted in 1962 - "Reflections on a Cold Spring". I would like to read it again, but my pile of back issues in the garage has collapsed into a black hole under its own gravity. If you do not get all the archives online, you will snatch this only joy from me.

I realise you may consider scanning all the back issues into your computer may take a while but are you not called to sacrifice yourself for others, less gullible than yourself? And bear in mind that production ceased during the Napoleonic, Crimean, First and Second World Wars. So it's not as big a job as you think.

Yours etc

Revd Buffington-Oddly
(Vicar,  1847-1971)



Sir - I went to church last week and there was a baptism.  As a result I was surrounded by strangers who didn't really understand what was going on.

When Our Lord told us to  "make disciples; baptising them", he clearly said we should go out to do it. No mention of them suddenly turning up at church asking how the Common Worship Book works. This nuisance must stop.

Yours etc,

Shirley Nott-Enuff



Sir

I noticed the other day that the new vicar is a married young woman.

This is dreadful. She could be having sex, or anything. Not during the service, obviously.  I mean generally. 
Not generally as in all over the place, clearly. I mean at home; with her husband, who I suppose is, at least, a man.

It's got so I can't go to church now without imagining the vicar enjoying sex. I'm shocked the Church has allowed this state of affairs to arise. And I now wish I hadn't used the word "arise". Please get it sorted out.

Your etc,

Vera Molby-Johnson (Miss)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Signs of the Kingdom (Part 2)

Directions to Anglican Retreat House

Making Disciples Mandatory

Someone's suggested an electric guitar would be nice

Same Sermon as last Christmas

Unheated Church

Average age of Congregation

Beware of Catholics warring on Twitter

Churchwarden on the lookout for volunteers

Vicar being forced to make a decision at PCC

Give way to Procession

Street Pastors Ahead
Changes being proposed to the PCC

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Road Signs of the Kingdom

We blame the numpty who put through the fine detail of the Smoking Act (also known as the Closing Pubs Down Act, 2007). Some pride-strewn civil servant or minor politician, in an act of weird hubris, decided to make it law that every public building in England and Wales had to carry "No smoking" signs on its walls, to remind people that they shouldn't smoke.

Ignoring the fact that we don't have "No Murder" signs around the place, "No Stealing" or "No Punching People in the Face" signs, he (I bet it was a he) guaranteed a kind of rubbish immortality by ensuring his rubbishy, fascist signs would be in all our eye lines forever. That person should be named, and his photograph put on every wall in England, so we all know to avoid him if we ever meeting. He should be a hissing and  a byword.

As a result of this, people assume that the only road-type sign that is allowed in churches is the "No Smoking" sign. Far from the truth. Loads of them are authorized, but not used as much as maybe they should be. We reproduce a few here. If churches only started using them, we wouldn't have to look at "No Smoking" signs so much. And that could only be a good thing. After all, who ever smoked in church? Only Anglo-Catholics. And that is only when they catch their chasubles on a thurible.

Tea Lights in Use

Danger of Schism

Don't be rude to Nuns

Incense in use

Dodgy Trinity Sunday sermon ahead

Church of England

No 2 Ronnies Jokes

No Lord of the Dance

Church Council Meeting

Compulsory tweeting during services

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Lamentation for the Loss of a Pot of Honey at an Airport

Voice of the Fates: Woe, for Osama has won! Osama has won! 

Voice of the Ages: For Richard Dawkins has lost his little pot of honey.

Leader: Tell it not in Jericho, announce it not in Port Meadow.

All: For the mighty has been brought low. From a watery grave, Bin Laden's hand has grasped a pot of honey from the Clever One.

Voice of the Ages: Vanity, vanity - all is vanity.

Leader: And now how shall Richard eat his toast?

All: Dry! Dry! 

Leader: With what shall he make mead?

All: He can't! And even if he could, would it not be confiscated? For is not mead always an unclean substance that the eyes of the air stewards cannot see, and a stench unto the customs officers' nostrils?

Leader: And did they not know who he is?

All: The scoundrels drag him down to the dirt of dundridge - he who once said a terribly witty thing to a fellow-don at High Table [see his books, passim].

Leader: And so the plot hatched in Bin Laden's heart, that one day, a zoologist would be unable to take a pot of honey on to a plane to gladden his heart with mellifluous sweetness, was achieved. And now only two of Osama's ambitions are left unto him:

All: To get chickens excluded from the railways, and to banish chewing gum from the streets of London.

Leader: But one thing, and just one, now puzzles my heart: If Osama has won....

All: Then where, and how, is he celebrating? 

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Making of a Methodist Circuit Plan

As everybody knows, the first rule of the Methodist Circuit Plan Club is that you never mention Methodist Circuit Plan Club. A secret society dedicated to the most difficult mathematical and logical conundrum outside of solving the Three Body problem in Physics. Like doing 8-dimensional Sudoku while solving simultaneous equations and psychologically profiling the congregations against the preachers, only three people in the world can actually do a Methodist Circuit Plan without breaking down in tears. Unfortunately none of them are Methodists.

But after infiltrating Methodist Circuit Plan Club by pretending to be a member of a little-known circuit in the East of England, we've managed to get what we believe is a page of the training manual. It doesn't make pretty reading...