Monday, 7 May 2018

Faith and Summer Wine

The recent discussion about the average Poshness of Church of England Clergy has converged nicely with the re-awakening of the marvellous "Summer Winos" blog with the lads' review of "Dried Dates and Codfanglers." The intersection between the two being me wondering about the Summer Wine clergy.

There were a lot of them. Apart from the occasional one officiating at funerals or weddings.1
John Horsley's appearance in "Three Astaires" can stand for them all apart from one. Super-posh (with an incisively posh wife in Dilys Hamlett who could cut the glass in her front door with the scorn in her her voice). Just the one non-posh one. In the very first episode. The excellent Michael Stainton plays a proper Northern working-class vicar. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he's the only vicar in the series actually to discuss faith  - with Clegg.

There were fewer as time went by, of course. Between the early 70s and 2010, the English people lost their assumed link with the Church that bears their name. Maybe the gap with the posh people in the pulpits just became too obvious. Or more likely it was the working-out of the previous 70 years' retreat of faith. Foggy or Blamire could be default Anglicans, making it for "Church Parade". Clegg could discuss theology with the confidence of a forced attender at Baptist church teas.

And yet the Church carries on thinking. Hoping that "people will come in". Assuming that there's nobody there just because they're all busy at football or the car boot. I mean they may be. But the more important matter seems to be that we've lost a shared imagination. The Church doesn't share a language with ordinary people any more.

I don't have any answers. I'm just reflecting. Maybe the Church could do with fewer posh people fussing over or not to really rock up "One More Step Along the World I Go" to bring in the young people. And more vicars with Yorkshire accents, talking about God in the midst of real life.

1Never baptisms. There are no baptisms in the Last of the Summer Wine. Barely any babies at all. I often think to myself that in fact, with the exeption of Chip and Connie Simmonite, there is no sex going on anywhere in Holmfirth. Sure we know that Compo and Wesley were fathers. But the main characters are unmarried, widowed or divorced. The married men have wives who don't seem very interested in it. And, in the case of Jack Harry Teasdale, he doesn't seem that keen either. And if Pearl were going to sue for divorce from Howard on the grounds of adultery, she wouldn't find too much evidence.

Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.


  1. Ah, those were the days. When even the enthusiasts went of to an Old Wine festival

  2. Never knew that the Uumph had gone out of the Church in the seventies? Because I didn't leave until the eighties and returned in the 2000's. Nothing had changed, people bouncing around doing all sorts of fresh things, church speak had become more inclusive of everyone apart from Women and LGBT peeps, and the Bishops still wore frocks and pointy hats

    I actually think that I was responsible for bringing the Uumph back when I returned. I can only claim that the purgatory that the church put me through in discernment and faculties and BAP didn't put me off, In fact, it made me keener to do something, anything that was different from being posh clergy.

    Now off course, as LLM, I'm allowed to be myself, to have a regional accent, to wear brown shoes with a cassock (unless the Choir director spots them) and generally run around doing all sorts of odd jobs like leading services, preaching, Wielding a chalice, deaconing and cleaning the church, even trusted to light the candles, without setting fire to the hair of another Server (as I did when I were a lad).

    No, we definitely have Uumph back. Women have got to all sorts of important places, we have "good disagreement" and "Thy Kingdom Come" and a former City Businessman as the ABC. All we need know is Andrew Brown as a Bishop and we've cracked it and will be overwhelmed with new disciples.

    Come on, Justin and John, recognize my contribution and give me a DD?


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl