Tuesday 17 December 2019

Needing a Wee on the First Day of the Week

Imagine the situation. You're a minister, in your riper years (as many of us are) and your ability to get between rest-stops isn't as great as it used to be. Or you may not be in your riper years, but you have other reasons why 5 hours on the road out of sight of a loo ain't a great idea.

But God and the Church of England, in their infinite jest, have decided that you shall minister at 7 churches, over an area of 100 square miles, none of which have a loo. And no matter how determined you've been in pruning the worship rota, you're still going to have an 8am, 9.30am and 11am service at three of your churches each Sunday.

And you'll love having Evensong. Because that's just the one. And you can go before you.... go.

But in the morning, sure you can get an early pit-stop in at 7.30. But then you'll be on the go (so to speak) until around about 12.30. And nature is inexorable and human flesh is weak.

So here's the hints.
  1. First up - make sure that in any benefice you take on, your parsonage is roughly in the middle. This means you can, time permitting, race into the house and back on your way between gigs. Depending on the precise reasons you may need to get to some facilities in a hurry, this may be a must-have. 
  2. Ideally, discuss with the bishop whether you can trade the vicarage in for a motor caravan. It's much better for maintaining a presence in each parish, you can take your loo with you, and in the unlikely event you get a weekend off, you can go to Somerset.
  3. Find out whether there are any public-spirited parishioners who are happy to offer their facilities as a rest stop.
  4. Then ensure they tell you when they're away. You don't want to be caught out.
  5. Avoid highly spiced food on Saturday nights. Or this whole blog post could be far more nightmarish.
  6. Keep the sermons short and the post-service mingling likewise, to enhance the possibilities of number 1 (so to speak)
  7. Refuse all offers of cups of tea, coffee or other beverages. Biscuits are OK. And if you're on the last leg, then whatever you like.
  8. There's a reason why churchyards have so many yew trees. And it's got nothing to do pagan mysteries. All that evergreen foliage can be mighty handy as a screen in extremis.
  9. Going in a churchyard, no matter how planted with yew trees, is not easy with an arthritic hip.
  10. Also, people get grumpy if you've just relieved yourself on Uncle Arnold.  Whether he's a long-term inhabitant of the graveyard, so to speak, or he's just sunning himself. So check the territory in advance.
  11. And watch out for newly-dug, not-yet-occupied, graves.
  12. There's one building project all clergy should embrace whole-heartedly. It's a loo in the bell tower.
  13. Or at least, surely, God's mercy and the treasurer's budget might stretch to a portaloo in the graveyard?
  14. Or a hole in some unconsecrated spot with a plank over it?
  15. I don't mean over the bell ringers, no matter how tempting you think that is.
  16. When you think about it - NASA managed to come up with a spacesuit that could cope with an astronaut meeting a call of nature in deep space. Surely Whipples could come up with something similar in a cassock alb.

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  1. Reminds me of the five church benefice I belonged to a few years ago. Only one church with a loo. And swinging between churches for the three services always meant a loo stop at the main church, which thankfully was open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, even if no service there. Since I lived 54 miles away from the Benefice, you can imagine a loo stop before heading home. Midnight mass was fun.... at one of the other churches, because, by than the main church would be locked..... Just before I left them, another church installed an "Earth loo" which helped. The reason was they had loads of weddings and got tired of having to point people to the clump of bushes in the church yard which passed for a convenience. All churches need facilities and those who object to faculties for such a convenience should be put into the village stocks and pelted with cow dung.

  2. And so much worse for the lady vicar whom God has not blessed with the right equipment for alfresco peeing. Or does the C of E provide she-wees?

  3. I am planning to provide a map and list of free Loos here in Warsaw, ( for the elderly like me !!!), where I am privileged to be Chaplain and have the best job in the Church of England !!!

  4. My first parish, as student-in-charge, was a 3-point, none of which had any plumbing. Luckily the rectory was centrally located, and easy to pop into in time of need. My first parish after ordination had one church, of course the most remote, without plumbing; luckily the side away from the road was well wooded (but in the winter there could be 2 feet of snow with drifts up to 4 feet).

  5. I am surprised that no one has mentioned the one piece of useful clothing in such an emergency - padded pants for the incontinent. Now in my very senior years, I never leave home without wearing them. Canadian priest.

  6. Apparently a portaloo doesn't need a faculty if it is temporary. Ours has a large notice on it saying 'Temporary toilet.'


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