Monday, 13 January 2014

When Victoria Wood was appointed Archbishop

You know what they say. You should never go back.

It's been a cold couple of days - the boiler's been on the blink, so we've been dependent on the Beaker Folk collecting enough wood to keep the fires in the Great House going. And with a level of intelligence as low as the average Beaker Person, it's no wonder that Stacey Bushes, our first-aider, had a lot of splinter-removing to do. Although I still doubt Burton's story that he picked up one splinter while "sitting on a pallet to do my shoe up". I think he was taking cynical advantage. Which he paid for when Stacey told him she'd have to burn it out with surgical spirit. So, when Charlii and Young Keith returned this morning from honeymoon, the first thing I asked them - after what my present was - was to get out to the boiler room and sort it.

Of course, Young Keith is brilliant but slightly unpredictable. As I forecast, he didn't achieve quite what he aimed for, and he converted an old-fashioned oil-fired boiler into a time machine.

Naturally, we spent a while shouting at him. We were all cold and the last thing we wanted to do was fight Daleks. But still, we had to do something. So we took a chance.

The boiler was fitted in 1965 in what was, at the time, my family home. So we went back to three days after it was installed, unplumbed it, stasis-locked the boiler to the time-machine-that-was-formerly-a-boiler, nipped back to 2014 and installed the new-boiler-that-was-the-old-boiler. Brilliant, I thought. I figured that my parents would have claimed on the insurance back in 1965, put in the replacement, and all would be - more-or-less - cushty.

Wrong. What happened was that my father's insurance claim was turned down, on the grounds it was the fourth one he'd made that year - including one for setting his own loon pants on fire. My mother, who was an irascible woman in her day, took the train to Birmingham with my dad's cricket bat, and trashed the insurance company office. Claim forms everywhere, apparently. That office was the new workplace of a young Julie Walters, who resigned that day, concerned that insurance was not the safe, comfortable career she had been promised. Instead she took a job as a bus conductress, and met and fell in love with a student medic who was on his way to University. They married a few years later and she never worked again. She didn't have to - he made a fortune, surgically repairing Birmingham accents.

Of course, this meant she never met Victoria Wood. So Wood and Walters were never formed and Mrs Overall was never created. Without a partner in crime to spark off, Victoria Wood, never made it as a comedian and actor, instead finding the solace of religion. She became a deacon in the Church of England and - in 1994 - one of the first female priests in the denomination.

Such was Victoria Wood's charm and inoffensive nature, combined with a steely ambition, that she almost single-handedly persuaded the Church to consecrate women as Bishops in 2003, and went on to become Bishop of Reading, Durham and then - in 2013 - Canterbury.

But it was while studying Theology as a mature student at Oxford University in the 1980s, that she had persuaded a rich PPE student that politics and trashing restaurants was not the way to get to heaven. Instead, he decided to dedicate his life to carrying out free plumbing repairs for religious groups.

And so it was that, when we arrived back in 2014, we discovered that David Cameron had just fixed the boiler. And therefore Young Keith hadn't tried to fix it, and we hadn't gone back in time, and my mum hadn't got so angry, and so Victoria Wood had met Julie Walters, and Jordan had never become played Maria in the Sound of Music, and Dappy hadn't become Education Secretary, and Richard Dawkins had never played cricket for England.

And so time snapped back like an elastic band, and everything went back to where it was, more-or-less. But to protect the very fabric of space-time from a bad case of recursion (because the last thing we needed at this point was Jayne Torville, as the 13th Doctor Who, arriving to fight the Cybermen), it snapped back slightly differently. Instead of creating a time machine, Young Keith merely blew up the boiler in the traditional manner, and we're all back to burning pallets.

So, I've phoned up two local plumbers, and they'll be round tomorrow to give us quotes for a new boiler. I don't think we've used either of them before. In fact, I think Steve Gerrard and Frank Lampard may have only just started up in business recently. According to village gossip, they started off as a partnership. But they couldn't work together.

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