Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Church of the First Day Simmonites

The Beaker People are a broad church. And we are happy to offer living space to any group that wishes to share our community - provided they abide with our strict rules of having no absolute rules, and can afford our prices. And this latest bunch are quite a nice group as well. And they're happy to live in the tumbledown old shepherd's cottage. He was terribly tumbledown, that shepherd. That's why I had to throw him out of the cottage. But I am glad to give space on this blog for the Great Compo, of the Church of the First Day Simmonites, to introduce himself.

People of the World, and Nora Batty

I'm grateful for the warm welcome, at a fairly reasonable rent, that Archdruid Eileen has given to the Church of the First Day Simmonites.

We take our name, of course, from that First Great Compo, the founder, prophet and eternal leader of our fellowship. In his honour, we take our fellowship's name from his surname. Strictly speaking we should have added "-ites" onto the end of his surname, like Darbyites or Millerites. But that would make us Simmoniteites, and that would be silly. We are the Church of the "First Day" Simmonites to reflect a noble truth about our prophet - that while God rested on the seventh day, Compo rested on the first. And the seventh, and all five in between.

We choose the Great Compo as our role model based upon our belief that Last of the Summer Wine documents all three of the basic male personality types, and the two female types (which are of course, young and confused or older and scary).

The three male personality types can be identified as:

The Cynic - world weary, constantly putting up a shield of ironic commentary. The Cynic is exemplified by Norman Clegg - so endlessly suspicious of the world that he will not go out, even on a summer's day, without a vest, shirt, cardie, waistcoat, jacket and raincoat. The Cynic gets short-term amusement from the world's travails, and can appear amusing or even wise - but his detachment and refusal to throw himself into the moment mean he will never truly live. Safe within his endless layers of protective clothing - both real and metaphorical - he can never be truly vulnerable. And without vulnerability, how can we ever be really human?

The Empire-builder - As characterised by Blamire, Seymour, Foggy and Truly. The Empire-builder always believes that he, and he alone, has the vision to plan new plans, dream new dreams and conquer the world. Of course, the problem with striving for world domination is that there's only one world - and how many people can hope to dominate it at once? Probably just the one, and there are many Empire-builders out there, eyes squinting keenly at the horizon - so it's a dog-eat-dog world. The energy expended in trying to take over the world explains how Last of the Summer Wine was onto its fourth "Third Man" before the sad loss of Compo - and Foggy had to take five years off to paint ornamental eggs before he could manage a second stretch.

Which brings us to Compo. Compo exemplifies the truth that the Kingdom belongs to those that can enter it like a child. Incapable of thinking beyond today; unruffled by the travails of the past. Compo is an eternal man-child - incapable of doing harm, ever dreaming the impossible - unafraid to fly a giant pigeon, jump through a boat, roll downhill in a barrel or even tackle Nora Batty. If the world were made up of Compos, no wars would ever be fought. No crimes more serious than the theft of the occasional apple would ever be committed. Admittedly we would all still be living in caves and scraping mould off the walls to eat, but would that be so bad compared to global warming, neo-nicotinamide pesticides and the Daily Mail?

And so we of the Church of the First Day Simmonites dedicate ourselves to walking along walls, climbing trees, swinging from ropes, going downhill in bath-tubs and doing other activities that would be moderately dangerous to an elderly gentleman. We never get up before lunchtime, drink brown ale in bed, and wear revolting clothing. On Sundays we reflect that we ought to be in church, then decide not to bother. We're completely useless, deeply annoying and yet - and this is a tribute to the Zen-like power of the Compo - we're completely stress-free. We wamble in the uneven footsteps of our founder, whose wellies we will never be fit to wear. We are the Church of the First Day Simmonites. It's not big, it's not clever, we're not proud and we don't care.

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