Monday 27 July 2020

Liturgy of Masks: 3020 AD - The Rite of Fourfold Sanitisation

Archdruidbot VCL XI: Lift up your masks.

All: We lift them to our ears. 

Iobfe: But not until after we have sanitised our hands.

All: Mustn't be too careful. 

Archdruidbot VCL XI: Let us join in the Prayer of Fourfold Sanitisation.

Iobfe: Oh God, bless us in our sanitising before the removal of our masks.

All: And in the removal of our masks.

Iobfe: And in our sanitising of our hands after our removal of our masks.

All: And in the sanitising of our hands before the putting-on of our masks.

Iobfe: And in the putting-on of our masks.

All: And in the sanitising of our hands after putting on our masks.

Iobfe: And in our going out.

All: At carefully considered intervals.

Archdruidbot VCL XI: As it was taught to us by our ancestors.

All: Though we can't remember why.

Archdruidbot VCL XI: Let us have clean hands and pure hearts.

All: And be clothed in the masks of purity. Amen. 

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Sunday 26 July 2020

Collateral Damage in the Mask Wars

Imagine the scene. You're an 18-year-old worker in one of those little local supermarkets. Let's say, for the sake of pathos and interest, a 5 foot nothing young woman. You're wondering what on earth grades you're gonna get at A Level in this weirdest of all summers and you've no idea what the job market is going to look like in the autumn or alternatively what university is going to imply. But you managed to convert your former part-time job to full-time, and it's only 7 quid an hour, and you've been exposing yourself to Covid 19 infection from customers since March, and Boris Johnson hasn't announced a pay rise for you and most people didn't put up rainbows for you, but at least you can make a contribution at home.

You've been in the shop since half five this morning, and amongst your jobs have been  dealing with respectively:
  • cleaning a freezer,
  • a 15 year old kid with his brother's ID who's trying to get booze,
  • the group of youths who arrived together and didn't socially distance and whom you suspected were 
  • someone who is angry that a local convenience shop doesn't stock tahini or agar jelly,
  • trying to distract you while one of their mates tried to nick a bottle of whisky from behind your counter, 
  • marking down hundreds of sandwiches, 
  • and one poor soul who wandered in with their mask on back to front and wondered why it wasn't working. 

So it's just an ordinary day.

You're just at the end of your shift. You're knackered. You're dreaming of the home straight and a glass of whatever 18 year old shopworkers drink when they get home these days. You've pushed a trolley load of flour out to stock up the shelf, so you know you're going to go home looking like the Homepride Flour Monster. You look up. And, worst of all nightmares, it's a right-wing libertarian controversialist journalist. No mask on, grinning smug face, taking selfies to get "likes" from his (or her, but on this occasion his) weird fans on social media.

You could ask him to put a mask on. But then he's from a cossetted background - aren't all the edgy ones - and his father used to own a factory, so he's got hundreds of years of patronising the working classes behind him. You could call the manager. But she's 5 foot 2 and even if she were 6 foot 5, what's she going to do? Refuse to serve him? Irrelevant - he didn't come here to buy anything. He came here to show off. Throw him out? Then he's got a video and he's a martyr for the Dim Right Wing. Call the police? Seriously? 

So you ignore him. You hope that one day, he might grow up.

Unfortunately for you, at that very point a member of the opposite faction in the Mask Wars comes in. Takes a selfie of himself, resplendent in a mask emblazoned with the words "I am wearing a mask and I even have a slight tendency to hay fever." Sees the grinning idiot mask-less and demands to know what you are going to do about it.

You look up at the two of them, standing there. Shrug and go off to serve the bloke who's buying six Jaffa Cakes and eight cans of Stella for a big night in. And the masked avenger tells you if you don't do something about it, he's going to write to your Head Office, mention you specifically by name (you have a name badge. Just your first name, to ensure people don't have it too easy to track you down), but it'll do for identification purposes) and tell them that if, in future, you don't throw grinning manboys from the shop for non-wearing of masks, he is going to demand a boycott on Twitter.

It is unfair that weird libertarian show offs can bully people like this for their amusement and lols on Instagram. It is unfair to put the policing of weird libertarian show-offs into the hands of poorly-paid staff - predominantly young and female. It is wrong that the government put into place penalties so poor that it's not worth the police enforcing them. Penalties that the average libertarian right-wing show off could pay with pocket money from their dads. It you're going to penalise them for endangering human health - and remembering there are very good health reasons why some can't wear masks - penalise them so hard it hurts, and it makes the papers and the police think it's worthwhile.

And for the rest of us, it's tricky. You don't know whether a given person has a genuine reason not to wear a mask, or whether they've swallowed some drivel posted in Facebook and need to be educated. But if you can see the person concerned is a nearly-famous columnist, do us all a favour. Don't smack them in the face - it only makes them a mask martyr. Just mutter something mildly offensive under your breath from a distance of 2m. Tut, if you must. The only oxygen a mask would stop them receiving is the mask of publicity. So don't give it to them.

I wish I wasn't even writing this, but it's not about the idiot libertarians or the masked avengers. It's about the poor sods that work in shops and get caught in the crossfire. Don't make them collateral damage in the Mask Wars.

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Saturday 25 July 2020

Advice on Ocarina Playing in Church Services

People have been asking for my guidance on the use of ocarinas (or is it "ocarinae"?) during services in church buildings.

The advice is quite clear.


This has been in place for 5 years now and I see no reason to change it just because there's a virus about.

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Tuesday 21 July 2020

How to Stop Your Glasses Steaming Up While Wearing a Mask

Obviously, as a leading spiritual leader, in a leadership role, people often come to me for leadership.

And one area where they've been asking for leadership is in how to stop their glasses steaming up when wearing a mask.

I've no idea why they ask me. I have perfect distance vision, so I never wear glasses when out and about. I am long-sighted. Which is, to be honest, a bit of a pain if I'm needing to check packaging for ingredients or "do not use this on gerbils" type warnings. But on the other hand, you can't go fishing glasses out of the Archdruidical Handbag every thirty seconds to read packaging. And you can't wander around shops wearing reading glasses without crashing into walls and other shoppers. Which is not advised in these days of social distancing. So what I tend to do is  just buy the stuff anyway, go home and use it on the gerbils anyway.

But obviously I can still apply the traditions of folklore and a bit of faith and quantum mechanics to the problem. So here we go.

  1. Wash the lenses of your glasses by the dew of morning, the day after the first full moon in August.
  2. If you rub your specs on the back of a badger, the resultant static repulsive force can repel moisture for up to 13 minutes. So remember to take a badger shopping with you. Ideally a tame one. 
  3. Don't wear your glasses. Just walk around squinting. This has the advantage of encouraging people to socially distance.
  4. Get special demisting lenses, on the principle of car windscreens, powered by hearing aid batteries in your ears.
  5. Always walk around shops backwards. It takes your mind off your steamed-up glasses.
  6. Say the ancient Beaker Glasses-clearing Spell. But be careful. It's only one consonant out from the ancient Beaker Death-Dealing Demon Summoning Spell. We've lost a lot of good, if short-sighted, Beaker Folk that way.
  7. Wear a mask that covers your glasses as well. Then you won't notice if they steam up.
  8. Get a tattoo that makes it look like you're wearing a mask. Then you won't get hassled to wear one. 
  9. Get a mask that looks like a half-face tattoo. Then everyone will leave the shop and it won't matter if you walk into things because your glasses are steamed up.
  10. Tiny little windscreen wipers on the lenses. A staple joke of 1970s comics whose time has finally come.
  11. Just wipe the steam off them occasionally. But remember to scream "I'm touching my face now! Everybody sanitise!"
  12. Get someone else to do the shopping. Let their glasses steam up instead.
Personally, I suggest the last one. Speaking of which, if anyone is going shopping, can they pick me up a couple of gerbils from Petsmart? I'm afraid there's some sad news about Val and Brenda.

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Monday 20 July 2020

The Dead Cat Prophecies

We've already had Boris Johnson sharing pictures of his baby. The convenient announcement that Jeremy Corbyn's revelation of a post-Brexit NHS sell-off was arranged by the Russians. And Dominic Cummings wearing a stupid hat. But what could possibly be announced tomorrow to try and get the Russia Report's publication off the front page of the Internet?

We've put our best brains onto it. And let's face it, even Burton Dasset's brain is about as good as Dominic Cummings'. And here's tomorrow's news, as we're sure will happen.

  1. Boris Johnson's wedding date announced.
  2. Mark Francois to be the new James Bond.
  3. Priti Patel announces a crackdown on immigration. 
  4. Tap-dancing horse closes down West End. 
  5. Jacob Rees-Mogg seen in Fortnums wearing a tweed facemask.
  6. First UK Freeport declared to be The Brunel Centre, Bletchley.
  7. War declared on the Faroes.
  8. Boris Johnson "accidentally" seen nude on Zoom.
  9. Chris Grayling walking to work with one brown and one black shoe on.*
  10. Dominic Cummings "accidentally" drives over Humphrey the No 10 Cat.
  11. British to land a piloted space ship on Jupiter.
  12. Graham Brady officially declared Britain's Most Useless Man. For the fourth year running.
  13. Hedgehogs blamed for Covid, and a cull announced.
  14. Dominic Raab announces that he has attained enlightenment, and is now a Visionary of the Temple of Dionysus.
  15. The Sun claims that an army of badgers are tunnelling under Buckingham Palace.
  16. Rancid cheese runs amok in the village of Stilton.
Or maybe the Russia Report just won't be as interesting as people expect?

*same as every day, but you know... 

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Wednesday 15 July 2020

The Sourdough Also Rises

OK, so the Sourdough, having achieved sentience, is now being worshipped as a god by some members of the Boris Johnson Gaslight Appreciation Society. Mostly because it's a lazy thing with little brain, but unlike Johnson it doesn't insist they have masks.

It's lost a few followers, however, after apparently Johnson made a joke about Calvin Klein pants today which they all enjoyed. Some would say his job was to stop the people of this country dying rather than making pants jokes, but he went to Eton so I guess we're lucky he doesn't just shove them on his head and sing a song about boating.

The Sourdough is pretty grumpy, though. It was thinking it had a chance of getting the gig at the Commons Intelligence Committee, if it was up against Chris Grayling.

So it's got a gnawing psychic emptiness and - being a sourdough starter - middle class pretensions. So there was nothing for it.

It's gone to Waitrose.

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

The Boris Johnson Gaslight Appreciation Society meets the Sentient Sourdough

I have no idea how this happened. But during lockdown, a group of the more reactionary of the Beaker Folk - whether through Facebook, Zoom, shouting through walls or simply just going outside for a chat - formed the Boris Johnson Gaslight Appreciation Society.

They're an odd bunch. They like old-fashioned lighting mantles, and Boris Johnson. They hark back to a time when toffs were real toffs, and the peasants were grateful. They hate Labour, Theresa May, Keir Starmer, the BBC, Europe and, since Black Lives Matter, football. And they love Boris Johnson and Priti Patel. And they think they're the normal ones.

But they're in a right dilemma. Because face masks.

There's a right schism. There's two possible alternatives to Boris Johnson saying we all have to wear face masks in shops. One is to declare that they will continue to follow their tatty, chubby little God of the Blond Comb-Over, worshipping him as the deity they have always believed. The other is to declare that, because Boris Johnson has decreed compulsory masking of faces, that he's a terrible blasphemer and false prophet.

And then there's the sub-argument. Some people are saying that no freeborn descendant of Angle the Saxon should ever wear masks. While others are harking back to the gas masks that "we" wore in World War II. The World War none of them can remember. But they all fought.

It's a recipe for disaster, already. And then you have to add into the mixture - as it were - the Sentient Sourdough Starter. Saturated with the earnest loneliness of Bernie's lockdown - the frustration of all those unrisen meringues and au-bout-de-souffle soufflés - all those rare stakes that were gray in the middle and those bullet-textured boiled potatoes that he's served up over all the years. The Sourdough starter has escaped from the translators we drafted in, screaming that it will rule the world. And legged it into the countryside. If a blob of flour and water, saturated with wild yeast and yoghurt bacteria, could be described as having legs.

But if a power-crazed fungus should manage to make contact with a bunch of weird Boris-worshippers, many disappointed at being asked not to infect other people with a deadly disease and looking for a new idol - what can happen?

I dunno. But I've got the old Slazenger V400 out. It may come in handy. 

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The Rise of the Sourdough

OK bit scary this.

I know lockdown has been a long time. Especially with the progressive, and progressively more confusing advice, instructions, and laws from Government and assorted hangers-on.

But it seems to have hit Bernie, the Community cook, worse than others. He's lost so much of the fun of running a catering establishment in a coenobitic paradigm. All the chat over the warming pans, dealing with 117 different alleged food intolerances. When we banned everyone from the dining room, he may have looked amusing delivering meals to rooms dressed in his hazmat suit, but it wasn't much fun for Bernie.

And since we banned him having any assistance, he took to sleeping under the sink, only leaving the kitchen to deliver meals and receive deliveries or pick herbs in the garden. It's been 4 months solid now.

It makes you lonely. So at some point he started talking to the sourdough starter.

He was really proud of himself, getting the starter going. Feeding it every day. Producing that wonderful artisanal bread.

But he seems to have shared his feelings with it one too many times. And today it talked back.

We've thrown a cordon  around the kitchen area while we get some specialist sourdough interlocutors in. They're not as uncommon as you might imagine. We're hoping by tea time we might get some idea of what its demands are.  Meantime, order yourselves pizza.

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Sunday 12 July 2020

Pray for Ashford

Today we pray for the people of Ashford, who have woken up to discover that the Government has bought a big chunk of land to park lorries when Brexit goes wrong. Or possibly, right.

When they were told there was no downside, only an upside, it didn't occur to the people of Ashford that living in a permanently-choked bottleneck was an upside. That not being able to nip down the road to pick up some milk without waiting behind a queue of lorries was part of the sunlit uplands.

I mean, apart from a Channel Tunnel terminal right there, in Ashford, whoever thought that it was on the route into England from France? Who could possibly have imagined that voting to leave the EU might have bad consequences? Apart from the 40 per cent of Ashfordians who maybe thought leaving was a bad idea. And yet they will still get the blame when it goes wrong. That's how Brexit is designed to work.

And so we pray for Ashford. They thought they were proving they believed in democracy, not rule by diktat. And now somebody has dumped a lorry park on them at ten minute's notice.

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21st Anniversary of the Death of Bill "Compo" Owen

Archdruid: We light this candle in honour of the Old Yorkshire God, Earnshaw

All: You sure that isn't a bit pagan?

Archdruid: We're Beaker People. We like to be eclectic.

Drayton Parslow: Syncretistic Heretics! You will burn at the Day of... why are you strapping me into this bath?

Archdruid: And so, in memory of Bill Owen, who proved that nobody is so Cockerney that they can't aspire to Yorkshireness, we offer up this sacrifice to the other Great Yorkshire God, Sam.

Drayton Parslow: Oh no! It's the Wicker Man all over again!

Archdruid: OK guys, push him.
Adequately socially distanced

Drayton races downhill towards the conveniently-placed hedge. At an inopportune moment, a giant balloon in the shape of a woman flies into him, knocking him into the path of an elderly man on a bike. With hilarious consequences. 

An angry woman with a yard brush appears

Nora: If you don't want a taste o' this brush, you'll stay at least 2m away from my steps.

"Omeroyd? My uncle Perce suffered from them for years."
Archdruid: Time to test Hnaef on the Ejector Seat...


Hnaef: Woaaaah!

Burton: How long have I got to hang from this tree in a pigeon outfit?

Archdruid: It's religious ritual. Could be another fortnight.

Norman Clegg: Oh well, happen I'll get some sausage for me tea.

Socially distanced coffee to be drunk at Sid's Cafe. When they re-open.

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Friday 10 July 2020

Beaker Coronavirus Procedures Update

All Beaker Folk can find the new anti-infection procedures on the BeakerWeb.

It's 500 pages of instructions that have changed slightly in places from the previous version, which we published on Wednesday. Two days after the previous amendments.

Obviously we're expecting you to have read them all. We could just tell you what has changed, but then we'd have to do some kind of comparison thing in Word. So we thought you could all do that instead. And it's in twelve different drop-downs because it's so cool to programme. Hope that's OK.

Be safe!

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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Bellowing at Badgers Service

Afraid the "Bellowing at Badgers" worship didn't work out quite as expected.

The badger, being the very essence of evil in the Beaker mythos, deserves to be bellowed at, as a sign of defiance against all things malevolent. However, in order for the bellowing to be successful, it is necessary that a badger or two actually appear. We think they may have gone off to assist with a locked-down archaeological dig. It's not well known that badgers are a great help to archaeologists, especially when they're socially distanced. And they look like they're wearing masks, which is useful. Badgers, that is. Not archaeologists. Mind you, with those beards the blokes wear...

Anyway, we couldn't bellow at badgers. So we had to howl at an owl.

You've got to run with what you're given, these days.

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Monday 6 July 2020

Liturgy for the Death of Ennio Morricone

Beaker Folk gather in a sandy, deserted place (Aspley Heath). In the absence of saguaro cactuses, a number of aloe vera are arranged tastefully. An archangel arrives with his hounds. A haunting tune can be heard on the air.

Charlii: Did you say "Whoooo are you?"

All: Nah, nah nah.

Gabriel: We've come for Ennio.  (spits cigar from side of mouth)

Marston Moretaine: Oh no! I loved "Forever in Electric Dreams".

All: That's Gorgio Moroder.

Marston: Oh no. I loved "Moon River".

All: That was Henry Mancini.

Archdruid: So was he the good, the bad or the ugly?

Gabriel: Well, he was good, wasn't he? All the spaghetti western stuff. The Lloyd George thing. The Mission... If music be the food of love, he's a master chef.

Hnaef: I'm more a " Fideuà Westerns" person myself...

Archdruid: You take him over our dead bodies. 2020 has been bad enough already.

Gabriel: He was 91. And I'm an archangel. My orders are that if you don't let him go, you will regret the day you were born.

Archdruid: Fair enough. Crack on.

Gabriel and his hounds turn to leave

Burton Dasset: Blondy!

Gabriel: Blondy?

Burton Dasset: Fine head of hair there. Very European. Are all angels...

Gabriel: No. You are seeing me in your own image. You want something?

Burton: Yes. You've dropped your oboe...

The Mission bell tolls a cracked knell as the angel and hounds depart

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Friday 3 July 2020

Liturgy for the Pubs Reopening

Archdruid: When we heard the pubs were re-opening we were as people in a dream.

All: Our mouths were full of laughter, our hearts full of joy.

Archdruid: Then it was said among the nation,

All: "can you remember whose round it is?"

Archdruid: Boris Johnson has said we can have be filled with draught Carling.

All: Our fortunes are restored, like streams of Negroni.

Archdruid: Those who sow in not enough distancing

All: will reap with tears of sorrow.

Archdruid: Those who go out laughing, to hug people and tell them they're their best friend, they are

All: Will come home in an ambulance.

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Covid Secure Liturgical Implements

It's a real problem. In a religion that is above all earthy - believing that matter and bodies are good - and that the Divine is encountered in bread, wine, water and each other - how do we provide the right implements to assist social distancing?

I mean, I've now introduced "1m++". That's because I don't want anyone within a mile of me. But what about everyone else? Here's some handy ideas:

For communion, liturgical spoons. 8 foot long ones. With a set of hygienic spoons, one for each communicant, you can give the bread out without ever getting within a fathom of them.

Or the Distribution Drone. Load your consecrated bread into this cunning device, and it will drop the hosts six inches gently into your hands.

For ordination - those big foam hands you get for football matches will enable you to lay on hands without getting within infectious distance. And those long spongy pointy fingers are ideal for anointing.

For laying on hands for healing, we recommend not.

Exchanging the Peace will now be achieved by tapping the ends of long sticks or sanitised hankies together in the manner of a very sedate Morris Dance.

"And also with you"

Liturgical dancing could be permitted provided the dancers are fully kitted out in HazMat suits.

Dance then wherever you may be...

And of course the offering. Coins are some of the most unhygienic items in existence. Keep it contactless. Round large numbers only please. We have to pay the transaction charge.

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