Wednesday 28 December 2022

Lament for the "Thomas Hardy" Tree in Old St Pancras Churchyard

 A forking ash tree, quite upright, with stones around its base


When I was but a sapling in the morn of my life's day

An enterprising architect came down St Pancras way

He'd dreamed he'd draw fine churches, all with neo-Gothic flair

But wound up moving bodies in the smoggy London air.

The folk who hampered progress had to be raised from their sleep

And, reinterred - quite rev'rently - in Finchley's graveyard steep.

And Thomas Hardy, full of Wessex peasant-yeoman whim

And having also quite a share of neo-Gothic grim

He took away the stones which once remembered Cockney dead

And stacked them in a fan shape round my growing form instead.


As time went by I waxed in size and grew around the stones

remembering those poor commuted Midland Railway bones

and Hardy, back in Wessex, grew to his immortal fame

Though poets, being mortal, they all go to death the same

And so one day he came back up to London, loud and brash

But he was quiet - for just like me, he was now wholly ash.

But, mortals, know that death will bring down even mighty trees

Especially when prone to catching ash die-back disease*

No longer will I quiver in this Camden churchyard bare

Nor hiss when west winds whisper hints of Wessex heights so fair.


And so my shady life is o'er - but hearer, know this true

At least I wasn't cut down to make way for HS2.

(The Hardy Tree, 1865-2022)


* I don't think it did, but it's a a nice rhyme.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Reasons for Not Attending Church (Part 3)

Sun December 18th - Carol Service - too many people - might catch Covid 

Weds December 21st - Christingle - too childish 

Saturday December 24th - Crib Service - don't want to catch Covid before the holidays

Saturday December 24th - Midnight Mass - too late

Saturday January 1st - Benefice Service because everyone's tired - caught Covid in the pub on Christmas Eve.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Litany of Horror at Being Too Informal in Written Communication

Woe is us!!

For we have used duplicated exclamation marks!!


And our emojis have let us down.... 😕

And we have, constantly, and - sometimes - deliberately - used too much punctuation, in our sentences: which is wrong.

We have broken the rules of informal communication set down by Uffizi gallery director, Eike Schmidt.

Who seems to be another of those people that, if unable to achieve anything of real worth, instead interfere with people's writing style. Like Jacob Rees Mogg, (remember him?) who wanted people to use very impractical and very outdated measuring systems, and Thérèse Coffey.

Who covered up her manifold unachievements in areas that matter by saying people in her department should be positive, be precise, and avoid Oxford commas.

Though, to be honest, WE DON'T CARE?!

These people are dinosaurs. If Eike Schmidt had been around during the Renaissance he'd have tried to ban them reproducing Danté's work using the printing press and demanded everything be written out with quills. If Rees Mogg had been there with King Cnut he'd have sneered at the sea, and threatened to send the waves to Rwanda if they didn't go back out. If Thérèse Coffey had ascended to the throne in the 16th Century it would have been even worse than it was.

Let these little jackasses preen as they want. In 100 years' time, everyone'llAllBeUsingCamelCaseToCommunicate. andNobodyWillCareWhatEikeSchmidtWanted. 😉

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Service of Ceremonial Solstice Sunset

Hymn: Ring out Solstice Bells 

Archdruid: As the sun sets over the woods of Woburn Abbey, let us proclaim our Solstice Lament.

All: Raise your banners high / Don't die, Sun, don't die. 

Archdruid: Ah no, it's gone.

All: Raise your banners high / Goodbye, Sun, goodbye.

Archdruid: At this death of the year, the sun returns to its long rest. / The earth shudders, the flustercock* heads to its nest.

All: It is the end of times. It is the start of times.

Archdruid: Raise your seasonal mistletoe

All: And snog the next person in the row?

Archdruid: No.

All: Thank goodness for that.

Archdruid: Let us take a moment to mark the passing of this solar year. We have travelled round the sun 4.6 billion times.

Burton: That's quite a round number. Shouldn't we have had a bit more of a party?

Archdruid: It's an approximation.

Young Keith: Any chance of a pint?

Archdruid: The ancient Beaker People gathered at their stone circles today. Feasted on their slaughtered pigs and called on the sun to return.

Young Keith: But they probably had a jar of mead?

Archdruid: A beaker, you mean?

Young Keith: Good point.

Archdruid: But not till they'd lit the Wicker Person.

Hymn: It's the End of the World as we Know it

The Beaker Folk may bump into each other in the dark, as they return to the Great House.

* ancient Bedfordshire word for a male pheasant, which I just made up

In the Fields, A-Wokeing


I see that the church of All Saints with Holy Trinity, Loughborough, have caused "fury" by using changed the words to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". This is the MSN account of the Mail article - I hope the Mail may get slightly less in the way of pay-per-click if you read it there.

I must say, when you dig in, the fury appears to be confined to the ubiquitously shocked Sam Margrave, and serial tweet-deleter Matthew Firth. So the thought of them fuming away in their front rooms, though amusing, is not unusual.

First up, well done to the Rector, the Awesome Wendy Dalrymple, who made sure the comma was in the right place. The number of times it's implied that the Gentlemen were just sitting around merry, by someone putting the comma after "Ye". I don't normally notice the rest of the lyrics anyway if I'm still in a state of fury over that.

In one way, it's just a shame that the lovely folk of Loughborough chose to use that hymn for these sentiments. Because the actual hymn, regardless of comma, is a pretty-near paraphrase of the narrative of Luke 2 - which is how, by avoiding the wokeist censoring of the Mail's predecessors, the Puritans, it was allowed to be sung in church at all. 

But the Mail is not being as conservative as it might be.

Querying Wikipedia, I notice that this is the oldest version known of the carol: 

Sit yow merry Gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
for Jesus Christ is borne to save or soules from Satan's power
Whenas we runne astray
O tidings of comfort & joy
to save or soules from Satan
When as we runne away
O tidings of comfort & joy 

Where is the outrage that this hymn was changed in the 18th century? Was Mercurius Rusticus up in arms? And also, worst of all... 

That "ye" is wrong. It's a deliberate, and incorrect, use of an archaic nominative pronoun. In Wyclif's translation of Luke 2, we have "do not ye dread"  - but that is using "ye" as the subject. Here in the hymn, "ye" is the object - God is the subject, ie the one originating the verb (isn't God, in a very real sense, always?) and so that "ye" should be "you". Or maybe even "yow", if you're from Walsall or the 16th Century or both.

Honestly. These people strain at gnats and swallow camels.

And wouldn't "God Rest You Merry, Gentlefolk" have been more inclusive?

Tuesday 20 December 2022

The Last Shepherd

The shepherds left the child's bedside. Out into the darkness the angels had banished, to share the astounding news with anyone that would hear their unlikely story.

Joseph poked the fire with a stick. The darkness closed again around the little scene. Time for some sleep.

And then a scrape at the door. And another man. A young man, smelling of the cold air and the hills. Clutching over his shoulder a still-struggling sheep.

"Am I too late? Is that... is that the King?"

Mary smiled, tired and confused, but relieved, and happy.
"You've just missed your friends."

"I had to let the others go ahead. I'd lost this one."

"Wandered off?"

"Yeah - the others were safe when the angels came. But this one - she'd gone for a stroll. I couldn't just leave her, could I? Listen - he's just a tiny babe now. But when he's a bit bigger - you will tell him I came to see him?"

"Oh yes. I think he'll love to hear about you."

Sunday 18 December 2022

Death of Kirsty MacColl (2000)

This afternoon's commemoration will be in the Cowboy Suite.

Please bring a Mexican Sofa to sit on.

The sermon will be based on the need to grasp each valuable day as if it could be the last. "We'll never pass this way again."

After the conclusion of the "No Victims" instrumental outlet, I'm glad to announce we will be able to get supper from Elvis's Mobile Chiporama. Times are hard, and he had to close the shop. I don't wanna change the world. But we really could do with a New England.

Thursday 1 December 2022

Last Mithras

Last Mithras I gave you my heart
But the very next day
I discovered that the vast majority of so-called "facts" about Mithras are not facts at all. They're made up from scraps of evidence and recycled to fit the modern tendency to just make stuff up to fit our romantic inclinations. We seem to think that if we believe something it just becomes true - I'm looking at you Stephen Fry with your claim that Mithras was born on 25th December which you and your so-called "Elves" (actually a bunch of geeks) put out because everyone thinks you're so clever because you wear Tweed. Same goes for Brexit as well, of course. Magical thinking with no hope of success. Whatever were people thinking? Bit of wishful thinking, bit of suppressed racism- not even suppressed for some people - bit of natural dislike of big Government and what do we get? Utter mess.
Next year, to save me from tears,
I'll give it to someone less gullible.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

The Book of Common Prayer : Prayers for the Lighting of the Advent Candles

We are delighted to share with you these previously-lost pages of Cranmer's BCP. It is believed they were ripped out of the second edition by Henry VIII, angry that it did not use red candles.


Upon the Sundays in Advent the Advent Candles are to be lit as follows. On each Sunday shall be lit by the Ordinary if he is present, or the curate of the parish or, if there are children present, the one least likely to set themselves on fire - firstly all the candles that have been lit in previous weeks, and then the candle for the week. The priest saying the prayers appropriate to the Sunday and the people saying after him.


Almighty God, who knoweth how grievously we have fallen in sin and walk in darkness, bless the lighting of this first, purple, candle, which shineth as a reminder of God's holy people who walked in darkness yet saw afar off what we  - miserable worms that we are - have seen: the Gospel of light.* And let the lighting of this candle, miserably as it is done, be a blessing unto us.


Most forgiving God, who knoweth that we are no less sinful than we were last week, nevertheless we beseech thee to  bless the lighting of this second, purple, candle, which shineth as a reminder of God's holy Prophets who saw the hope of the salvation to be brought through Jesus and humbly wrote thy words in their scrolls to show us our utter sinfulness and disgrace. How can the lighting of  an humble candle save us from thy deserved wrath? Yet accept this second light, weak and feeble as it be, and let it burn to thy glory.


Most gracious God, who knoweth how terribly we have failed thee since last week, there being no health in us, even after two candles: send thy blessing unto us as we light this third, rose, candle. Knowing that there are some who are so fallen that they believe that we should light instead it next week for Mary, because she is a girl. Forgive thou them that call this candle "pink" instead of rose. And in thy mercy give us strength to hear yet again the story of why it's called "Gaudete" Sunday and the Steeleye Span mention.


Most merciful God, remembering how unacceptable in thy sight our candle-lighting must appear in comparison to thy inestimable glory, even on this fourth attempt, bless the little flame that we here kindle in blessed memory of the mother of our Saviour, in thy mercy overlooking that we lighted another rose one for her after all so little Denis wouldn't cry, and let its remembrance keep us from the much larger flames of Hell.


Most merciful God, as we light the white candle on this most holy day, and wonder whether we should light it before or after the replacement purple candle because the first one has burned all the way out, forgive us our manifest sins which we wholly repent in tears and ashes, begging Thy mercy for our heinous sinfulness. And a Happy Christmas to one and all.

*If the First Sunday falls in November, he shall add

And let those who are confused why we are lighting the candle in November because they think Advent starts on the First Day of December be led into the truth.

Monday 28 November 2022

An Authentic Celtic Advent

 There's a lot of Anglican Twitter Discourse, in these dying days of Anglicanism. And dying days of Twitter. And dying days of discourse. Anyway. There is a lot of talk of people jumping the gun on Christmas, lighting things up too early, having Black Friday Communions, and so on.

So we thought we'd get back to basics. Do something lovely and traditonal. Find the roots of the faith in these islands. A Proper Celtic Advent.

Two days in, and it's been mixed. There was a nice bit - basically before I got up on Sunday morning. Then two days of eating nothing but soggy oatmeal has certainly got us into a mystical state of mind.

But the Traditional Advent Sunday Worship was controversial. Three hours of the Beaker Folk standing up to their necks in the Duck Pond wearing hair shirts, in the dark, while Hnaef screamed at them that they were sinners in Latin.

I should make that clear. Hnaef was screaming in Latin.  They weren's sinning in Latin. Apart from maybe a few peccadillos. 

So I'm glad we've done Advent properly. And just in time. Father Santa's Festival of Tea Lights is in the Moot House from tomorrow. 4 weeks of twinkly loveliness, the smell of mince pies and mulled wine. I can't wait.

I do feel like we've earned the happy bits now though. Having done Advent properly.

Monday 21 November 2022

Calendar Clashes are Coming Home

The Guardian reports that the Church of England has noticed that the World Cup Final clashes with Carol Service Sunday (as the 4th in Advent should really be titled).

I'll be honest - this is a bit late to notice. All over the country, parish mags are already being printed on laser printers, linotypes, banda machines and carved out potatoes. The copy deadlines have gone, the harvest is done, and we have not been saved from this calendar clash.

Well, obviously, the Beaker Folk have.We noticed months ago.

That's why on the Saturday before, we will be holding our Night of 6,500 tea lights, one for each migrant worker who died building the stadiums in Qatar. Sunday 18th is being officially renamed Rainbow Day. We are holding our Service of Staring at 4.45 pm that day - ie just before the end of normal time in the final. Anyone arriving late will be stared at. In the case of extra time, we will stare at them during Coffee Time. And we have the special Qatar World Cup Advent Calendar. Each door you open constains the message "Don't watch the World Cup".

Meanwhile the Church Support Hub has a number of suggestions of how Christians can integrate trying to pretend they're doing Christian things with the secular world watching football. These include watching the game, showing the game (if the church has a TV licence, presumably), a Football Nativity, or having a Sports Quiz and Carols at an "alternative" time to the final. Conveniently you can download the quiz here, so if you're invited to a Quiz and Carols: you know what to do.

Down well below the fold on the Church Support Hub, there's a link to a piece on the morality (or not) of Qatar hosting the Christmas World Cup. I note that Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, is the C of E's "lead bishop" on sport. I look forward to hearing who the lead bishops are for ceramics, crane manufacture, doilies, matt paints in pastel colours, and Christmas decorations.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

All Souls' Day

Brown lime-leaves spiral to the sky
moved by the spirit as the hallowed breeze
brings damp discord to this sodden day.
The murmured prayer of those invisible
muttering with the aching trees
as spotted ash leaves fall.
From the earth they grew
to the earth they return
from the earth, new life will rise.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

A Mixed Ecology in the Chicken Farm

Bit of an issue with our "mixed ecology" initiative in the chicken run.

The chickens have always been a valuable source of protein in the Beaker community, especially when road kill is out of season. The chickens would have pretty good lives. The grass was grazed. And the eggs and meat were free range and high quality.

But some people said the chickens weren't expanding. Said the hens were getting less productive with age. Said they wanted an exciting new project. A mixed ecology. 

So we put some foxes in.

OK, the chickens started disappearing. But apparently that was going to happen anyway. And the foxes were having a high old time.

Obviously, foxes don't taste very good. And they don't lay eggs. But they were looking so healthy.

Until the last two chickens went.

They had considered their calling to be ducks, but found the whole swimming thing a bit inefficient.

Now, all the foxes have starved.

Still, the grass is long. And we can get eggs at Tesco.

And it was a dynamic initiative. So that's the main thing.

Liz Truss


I did say.

It would not be sticking my neck out too far that the long-term decline in British Tory PMs may have just reversed. At least for once. Even if he's the last.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

That All-Purpose Social Media Company Response to Complaints About Racist Posts

 Thanks for reporting that racist post. It was really racist, wasn't it? And it's important you keep reporting racist posts, so we can tell you we take racism seriously.

Although we take racism seriously, we don't take it seriously enough to do anything about it. So we won't be taking any action at this time. Or ever.

But please keep reporting racism on our platform. We care. 

Just not enough to do anything about it.

Liturgy for Jacob Rees-Mogg Leaving the Cabinet

Archdruid: Finally.

All: Amen.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Liturgy Conducted in a Religious Building with a Leak in the Roof

 Archdruid: Peace be with <splot>

All: And also <splot> you.

Archdruid: <splot> up your hearts

All: We lift them up with <splot>

Archdruid: A reading from John <splot>

No <splot> is an island entire of <splot>; every man
is a <splot> of the continent, a <splot> of the main;
if a <splot> be washed away by the sea, <splot>
is the less, as well as if a <splot> were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's <splot> diminishes me,
because I am involved in <splot> kind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the <splot> tolls; it tolls for <splot>. 

All:  Isn't there an inclusive version?

Archdruid: I'll <splot> onto it.

Hnaef: I've found the bucket.

Archdruid: Now let us have a <plink> of worship.

All: Can we <plink> the tea lights?

Archdruid: <Plink> lights after we've given thanks for the weather.

All: Are you jok<plink>?

Archdruid: Shine Jesus Shine?

Archdruid: Repeating the <plink>. Look, Hnaef - can you get a plastic bowl instead of a metal pail?

Hnaef: <plink> on it.

Archdruid: And <plink> we move into a time of praise and <splunk>

Hnaef: Found <splunk>!

Archdruid: OK, enough's e<splunk>. Go in <splunk> out into the <splunk> to <splunk> all <splunk>

Hnaef: I reckon it's clearing <splunk>.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Living Without Central Heating - A Guide

In these days of high gas and fuel costs, everyone is wondering how to save money.

I saw this headline from the Telegraph website about how to live without central heating. Now, I can't read the article as I'm saving money by not paying for a Telegraph subscription (handy money-saving tip there). 
But here's what I'm sure it is saying.

First up, it's really easy to live without central heating if you have a wood-burning stove in every room. Obviously the stove will cost a grand or two. And then if you've saved money by not lining the chimney, you may accidentally start a chimney fire. But that's all warmth.
Sadly we deforested the entire orchard while looking for enough wood to stay alive during the "Beast from the East" a few years ago. But every day, bands of happy Beaker Folk trawl the countryside looking for discarded pallets, roadkill, and old carpets. And it all burns!

Obviously if you live in a tenement in Central London you may not have access to an actual chimney. And putting a new chimney on a modern estate house (I mean housing estate, not like Woburn Ashby, silly!) can be slow, messy and expensive. So I'd recommend venting the burner out of a window.

If it's a really cold day, visit your local dog rehoming charity and offer to look after one for a while. Dogs can manage without food for a few days, and you can take it back when the weather picks up.

Then there's sweaters. To avoid that "looking like a woman who lives in a van" concept that Georgina Fuller so frets about, I buy all my layers at Joules. Simple, stylish and warm.

And if, after you've splashed out in Joules, you need a bit more warmth on the cheap, send someone a bit common into Dunelm for you. The Teddy Bear Fleeces only have that incredible softness until you wash them. So don't wash them. They also have the advantage that, if you've borrowed a Labrador, the shed hair builds an extra insulating layer.

And never forget the importance of mood lighting! Investing in some smart bulbs can make such a difference as they give the whole house a warm, orange glow. Especially uplifting. Gives you that "cottage fireside" feeling without dazzling you.

If you're really lucky you'll have a house that mysteriously never suffers from condensation. I achieve this by a special Beaker meditation technique which slows my metabolism. In this case you don't have to worry about heating the space - just heat the body. Why not wrap yourself in layers of bubble wrap as you cluster around the switched off-telly?

And then there's the bath. Bath water is lovely and warm, and you can keep topping it up when it cools down!

Don't forget the importance of reducing draughts. You can make such a difference by nailing up unnecessary doors. And eliminate draughts from windows by painting over the frames and gaps. Cheaper than insulation!

Of course, I can appear stylish and bubble-wrap free. That's because I insulated the Moot House thanks to a Government scheme under New Labour.  And I have an oil burner in the Druidical suite.

So, as you cancel your internet contracts to save money, I'm praying for a mild winter for you. And hope to see you in the spring!

Friday 14 October 2022

A Queen Forever

We've been thinking about this for a few weeks.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about King Charles.

But after Queen Elizabeth has been my queen for a whole life time - doesn't it feel a bit weird singing "God Save the King" and all that? We ended up with "God Save the Quing", and that can't be right.

And then there is the problem of all the service leaflets we've had printed off. Saying "Queen" and "Elizabeth". All to be changed to "King" and "Charles". When we all know Charles's actual title is "Prince." Are we going to reprint them all? Or cross out the old words and put the new ones in, in biro?

So we've come to a conclusion.

As far as the Beaker Folk are concerned, Queen Elizabeth II is our Queen Perpetual. Any successors will be holding the throne temporarily, in the short-term absence of the real possessor.

So God Save the Queen. And all those who sit on the throne on her behalf.

Monday 10 October 2022

Nativity of Kirsty MacColl (1959)

 Can all Beaker People assemble at 6 pm in the Forêt de Mimosas. 

Mambo de la Luna will commence upon the sighting of the first pathetic male. (Burton Dasset).

1980s perms are permitted. 

Feel free to sit on the Mexican sofa.

Take it away, Kirsty...

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Suella Braverman Has a Dream

I have a dream, a dream so bleak
If you've crossed the Channel on a rubber raft
You won't land at Dover unless you're really daft.
I believe in hatred
Something suss in everything I see
I believe in hatred
When I know the time is right for me
I'll stop your "crime"*
This Christmas time.

I have a dream, a dream so wide
To throw them out upon the tide
If you're a gay Syrian hoping for some peace
You'll fly to Rwanda 
- talk to the police
I believe in borders
I'll be far more vicious than Priti
I believe in borders
When I've passed the law you won't be free.
This is my scheme
I have a dream.

* Travelling to the UK is not a crime. Yet.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Liturgy for Ronnie Pickering Day

In memory of a Social Media sensation second only to Ed Balls Day. The day Ronnie Pickering asked the ultimate question, "do you know who I am?"  Video here: Warning very bad language (and driving)

All: Who are yer? Who are yer?

Ronnie Pickering: I am Ronnie Pickering.

All: Who's Ronnie Pickering?

Ronnie Pickering: I am.

All: Who are yer?

Ronnie Pickering: I am Ronnie Pickering.

All: Who's Ronnioe Pickering?

Ronnie Pickering: I am.

Beaker Person 1: I'm Ronnie Pickering!

Beaker Person 2: I'm Ronnie Pickering! 

Beaker Person 3: I'm Ronnie Pickering, and so's my wife.

Archdruid Eileen: In a very real sense, aren't we all Ronnie Pickering?

Ronnie Pickering: And who do you say that I am?

All: Who are yer?

Ronnie Pickering: Ronnie Pickering.

All: Never heard of you.

Saturday 17 September 2022

All Worship Cancelled Out of Respect

Out of respect to Her Late Majesty, all regular worship is cancelled. Out of respect.

Today's Liturgy of Hildegard of Bingen, Patroness of Microwaves, will now  be held on 3 November in Towcester. While our traditional-language procession for today, the "Lambert Walk", will be replaced by the "Southwark Queue."

Tomorrow's worship will be replaced by a video loop of sad photos of marmalade sandwiches. Beaker Folk are reminded of the words of Judas, "This marmalade could have been given to the poor."

Then on Monday, out of respect, all Beaker Folk living in the Moot House will be confined to their rooms out of respect. Those without en suite facilities will be provided with empty marmalade jars. Maybe you could have spent more on your rooms, and less on plush Paddington toys. The grounds of the community will be patrolled by Russian-trained Attack Badgers to ensure respect is maintained at all times.

Please join me in these marks of respect.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Guinea Pig Awareness Week Postponed

I see from the Guinea Pig Awareness Week Facebook page that they are postponing next week's Guinea Pig Awareness Week out of respect to Her Majesty.

Date Change to Guinea Pig Awareness Week 26th-30th September


 I suppose there's a certain logic here - who's going to be aware of Guinea Pigs when there's a royal funeral on? But oddly, the Guinea Pig Awareness Week website still has the old dates.

And more oddly, they think that there is a 23th of September.

"Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW) is back! Sep 19-23th 2022


I can only come to the conclusion that the webmonkey at the Guinea Pig Awareness Control Centre has taken the week off out of respect for the Queen, but someone still knows how to do Facebook. 

And are the Guinea Pigs aware?

I don't know what happens to you if you're unaware of Guinea Pigs during Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW). Or if you persist in being aware of Guinea Pigs during a Royal Funeral. But I'd like to think it's something like this.

Woman being shouted at through a megaphone by copper in police car during lockdown
But I think it's good that we British can respect the dignity of the occasion in such a way. I'd like to think we can also realise that people having cancer operations or their own loved ones' funerals postponed out of respect to the Queen, on the other hand, would be a really silly thing to do.


Tuesday 13 September 2022

Monthly Moot Cancelled

 To let all members of the Moot know that tonight's Moot Meeting is cancelled. 

This is out of respect to Her Majesty the Queen.

Instead of having the Moot Meeting, we shall all stay at home, complaining that "House of Games" isn't on, and watching old episodes of The Chase.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

The Celebration of Creationtide

Some Beaker Folk have been asking me about Creationtide, and what it really means. It seems to have just appeared in the calendar, with no real explanation or consultation. So a quick summary.

Creationtide, as people don't seem to realise, is a creation of St Francis himself, who was concerned about deforestation in 10th Century Assissi. The season as now celebrated consists of the 7 weeks leading up to the anniversary of your actual first day of Creation, which you may remember was on 23 October

During Creationtide, we celebrate the wonders of creation. We go out to look at the summer flowers, which have gone over, and think how nice it will be in the spring when the daffs are out. As the autumn closes in, we resolve to get outside in the downpours and remember - it's not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about dancing in the rain.

As the darkness gathers, we will burn old tyres to keep warm and enjoy some low-cost heat. We have a special fire-pit, dedicated to Mother Gaia, for this purpose.

Every Friday we proclaim the Lament of the Person Who Went out for an Almond Croissant But Came Back with a Plain One by Mistake:

I went down town for a croissant
Almond is what I always want
Came home to find that it was plain
How that happened I can't explain. 

I really wanted that almond
croissant. My sadness is profound
Shame that it's getting dark so quick
I'll stay at home with a Topic.                               
(to the Old Hundredth as arranged by Manfredi)
This song is a reminder that although Mother Gaia is rich in giving and generous in nature, in practice life can turn out a bit pants. 

As we progress through Creationtide, each day has a special theme. Today, for instance, is the Feast of Witches' Knickers, when we go out to see the beautiful sight of decaying carrier bags in the branches of bare trees.

Next Sunday, we celebrate Conker Day. The old folk tell long stories about how they used to go out in the autumn to collect horse chestnuts, and would battle at conkers until it got dark. While the young ones drift off to play Pokemon.

21st September is more-or-less Autumal Equinox, and we celebrate by hanging dog-poo bags in trees all over the country. I bet you wondered who it was. We think the brightly-coloured bags are a real delight, and so much more environmentally friendly than just kicking the poor into the hedge or onto someone's garden. 

On 1st October, we celebrate Dead Badger day. All the little children go out and count how many dead badgers they can find. The one that finds the most gets to be King Badger, and gets an extra helping of roadkill stew at dinner.

On the big day, we cover the Duck Pond in a layer of petrol, and set it alight to celebrate that first Day of Creation in Genesis. As I proclaim the words, "Let There be Light", the ducks flying around  terrified  are a reminder of the Spirit hovering on the waters. As the Abandoned Shopping Trolley Wicker Man melts in the heat, we remember that all our technology is ultimately doomed and we may as well just abandon ourselves to the dark.

A Wicker Man made from Shopping Trolleys in a burning pond

And then, as Creationtide ends, we move into the Season of Winterval. This 24th of October, we'll be putting extra bling on the Moot House to celebrate the end of Covidtide. We hope. Unfortunately we won't be able to light the bling up, due to electric prices, but you can't have everything.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Boris Johnson

 It's not that long ago that I wrote an appropriate farewell to Theresa May as Prime Minister. And here we are again.

Theresa May was the worst Prime Minister so far. Utterly destructive to her country. Inflexible, insensitive, incompetent.

And yet she is no longer the worst Prime Minister so far. Her successor is a liar, a serial adulterer. A man who conspired with a criminal to have a journalist beaten up. A man who partied while the people of his country died. A waste of an Eton and Oxford education. A man so self-centered that his ego has its own gravitational field.

This was a man who signed a deal he then claimed was a disastrous deal. As if it were someone else's fault. That his lapdogs at the Express called a "hated" deal, even though it was their hero who had signed it. A man so incompetent - or deliberately reckless - that he thought Lord Frost and Dominic Cummings were competent. 

And the worst of all?

He's probably only the worst British Prime Minister so far. 

Watch this space.

Saturday 3 September 2022

You Are Here to Kneel - The Cost of Being a Disciple

 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Luke 14.25-30

First reading of this passage is a bit of a shocker – if you want to follow Jesus, you have to hate your family. And the thought crosses my mind - if many people that become Christians do so in their teens - maybe that's because a teenager finds it so easy to stomp around shouting "I hate you!"

But given Paul's instructions on families looking after each other, and Jesus's telling John to look after Mary at the cross, I don't think that Jesus means it this way. It's strong - but it's hyperbole. But it's important and challenging - do we love Jesus so much that if it meant our family rejecting us.... well, what would you do? Or is our Christian faith so un-radical that anyone can accept it?

It's a strong challenge. But you've got to remember the context for those early disciples of Jesus. What does the future hold for them? Undescribable joys as they are with Jesus, as they see the Resurrection and experience Pentecost - and yet the grief of the Cross, and a future of persecution, and often martyrdom. 

Jesus refers to a foundation being built - in the knowledge that the rest of the building will follow because you've planned properly. And that takes me to: what is the foundation of what we are doing? Why are we Christians? Why do we gather to worship?

If you came to Little Gidding church, taking the way you would be likely to take - up or down the A1 and then down the winding roads - you would see the words on the wall, quoting TS Eliot's poem:

You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report.
You are here to kneel.
The church at Little Gidding - interior - dark wood looking towards the altar. Quotes from Eliot on the walls

Maybe a bit ironic when so few kneel in church these days. But take it as metaphorical - or maybe take it as literal - We are not churchgoers to be connoiseurs of worship music. To be tasters of liturgy. To enjoy the stained glass. We should not come as consumers, to ask what God or the vicar or the music group can do for us. We come to bow before the almighty God. To draw close to our eternal Teacher and hear his word as his disciples. And we are sent out like his apostles. We are here, in whatever sense, to kneel.

These words are not the light-touch call of a consumerist world, calculating whether we get the worship experience we feel we are entitled to.

This is a call to a way of life that we can describe in Eliot's words as "costing not less than everything". Because that is what it costs to follow Jesus. Not less than everything. Whether you lose your life - or just your convenience. In the words of the Methodist Covenant Service: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

That is what Jesus calls us to. A way of life that costs not less than everything.

 When you read "Little Gidding" and visit the place you can think of how quiet and peaceful the place is - how spiritual the poem - till you remember that it was written in 1941 and 1942. Like the Lord of the Rings, and the first drafts of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it was written under the shadow of a war against evil, in the knowledge that at any moment the dropping of a bomb could cost anyone not less than everything. Those Pentecostal fires of Little Gidding are the Holy Spirit - and yet contrasted with the Luftwaffe.

And for us - we meet in holy, sacred, set-apart places. We gather to worship the Name of the eternal God. But we are sent into the world, where the forces that hate the good are also to be found - they are also to be found inside the holy spaces, of course - and we are to face them. To follow Jesus means to give up your rights to a quiet life - to forgo your right to an untroubled passage. To look for a narrow path. To pick up a cross and follow knowing that he went before you carrying his cross.

But all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. When we have walked the path that he has marked out, following him and his cross, to the place where we find that the fire and rose are one. And we bow down and worship the Lamb, and know that everything we have given up, everything we have suffered, everything we had to consider loss, was worth it to gain Him, the one who calls us, who leads us, who walks beside, who died for us, and who lives for us.

A Psalm for Dylon Day

O woe is me for my clerical shirts are dark gray

and my black trousers are washed out, 

with white patches where they are most worn

if you know what I mean.

Where is the shiny blackness of old?

The monochromatic outward sign of inner clericalness?

How has the blackness faded from my life

to where I can be camouflaged against a bottlenosed dolphin.

Though my clothes were black as night

yet they are as gray as pigeons

Though they were like the cover of a big church Bible

yet they are as washed out as a vicar in the Elstow Team Ministry

who is required to have "boundless energy"

yet we are all but mortal.

And "boundless energy" is an offence unto the First Law of Thermodynamics

and aspiring to it more likely to invoke the Second.

And so I resort to Dylon

which turns all things to black

and restores the newness to old shirts

and is cheaper than buying new ones.

Though my shirts are gray as ashes

yet they shall be black as a 1990s company car

I shall be restored likeone that is newly ordained

or like an ordinand posing in the mirror.


I shall pray that the colour is fast

and the blackness does not run

So I do not end up in a pool of sweaty dye on the nice new floor

on a hot day in church

or staining the grass

at a rainy funeral.

I set my hope in Dylon that it shall cling to the cloth like Ruth to Naomi

or Barnabas to Mark.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Sorting out the Seating Plan at the Wedding of the Lamb

"When you are invited to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place."

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. (Luke 14:8-9;12-13)

Occasionally there's something in the Bible that is so out of our experience that we can't relate to it. Like this story of the sharp-elbowed wedding guests.

We all know that the British have solved this problem. The most important person at a wedding feast is, after all, the one who does the seating arrangements. Then a nice tasteful name card at each place - and maybe a seating map pinned up, if it's a big do - job's a good 'un. No need for anyone to be humiliated by being moved down the pecking order because a Love Island contestant just turned up.

But, of course, we still know this experience of people demanding their rights - and occasionally not getting them. The most famous recently being Carlton Funderburke, the Kansas City pastor who accused his congregation of being "cheap" because they didn't buy him a nice watch.

I think there's an end-times edge to this little narrative of Jesus's. It's about humility, sure. But that wedding feast is the kingdom of heaven. Maybe we're all taking our places now. Who is the one who's elevated themselves above their true seat when we find out about the heavenly table arrangements at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb? And who does Jesus want sitting next to him?

There's an old joke about a good, honest person who goes to heaven - I forget the original details, and I suspect it's not a true story, so let's say they're a shop assistant. And she gets to heaven, and St Peter checks her off the list, and quietly ushers her in.

And she's wandering around gazing round the place in awe, and over at the pearly gates a limo drives through and there's fireworks and bands and cheering and she goes back to St Peter and says, "Who's that?"

And he says, "it's a bishop." 

"Typical," she says, "even up here there's the same old hierarchy. The bishops get all the fuss, and the ordinary people are worth less."

And St Peter replies, "You don't understand. Thing is, this place is full of people like shop assistants. But we very rarely get a bishop."

Which brings us on to the second passage.

At first glance, my problem with this reading…. 

Is Jesus basically saying we should look after those less fortunate than ourselves because in the long term we get rewarded? So instead of your instant payback on earth, you get a much better one in heaven?

Is the Kingdom of Heaven just an eschatological Stamford Marshmallow Experiment, where delaying gratification leads to better rewards in the afterlife? 

If so, I don't want to go. If I’m going to look after someone, or help someone else, I want to do it for their sake, not for a payback in this world or the next.

But Jesus is telling us - I think - to raise the level of how we interact with people above what is purely transactional. If we give to someone who can't give back, if we aren't looking for thanks or repayment - we're setting ourselves free from the normal rules of our world. We're also acting in the same way as God, who made a whole universe out of nothing and, when that wasn't even, gave it God's Son as well.

And there's another saying of Jesus's where he tells us that whatever we do for those in need - we also do for him. When we feed the hungry, visit the lonely, then we are growing in our love of, our relationship with Jesus - we're recognising Jesus in those around us.

Entering the Kingdom of Heaven isn't a transactional relationship. It's a personal one. If we give without worrying about the reward, then our reward will be great - because we are drawing closer to God, who gives us all things - including his Son.

Friday 26 August 2022

Things Found in Church Vestries

 Odd things, church vestries.

In theory, the place where the clergy change into their liturgical garb. Say a quiet prayer (or 187, if of the Anglo-Catholic variety).

In practice. The place where all the rubbish that the church can't quite bring itself to get rid of, ends up. Such as:

  1. A "duplicate book" with countersigned records of all the collections between 2001 and 2004.
  2. A crucifix with the arms broken off.
  3. 234 copies of the Alternative Service Book, in case it is ever re-legalised.
  4.  Photographs of all the former incumbents with their wives. And one former incumbent with his mother.
  5. A photo of a former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, hidden in a cupboard. 
  6. Key safes containing the keys to other key safes. Which contain the keys to other key safes.
  7. The laws on the protection of bats. In case the incident with the machine gun is ever considered again.
  8. Clerical robes that will never be worn again, that have been half-eaten by moths, but nobody has the heart.... 
  9. Advent candles from the last two decades, all burnt to various degrees.
  10.  A list of former rectors that ends in 1983 for no apparent reason.
  11. Laminated notes on how to sanitise your whole body after private prayer, from March 2021.
  12. Mouse traps, with no clues as to whether there are still any mice.
  13. Instructions on communion during Covid from February 2020.
  14. Instructions of the prayers to say as one vests for High Mass.
  15. A list of the PCC members in 1994. Consisting of the same people as the PCC in 2022.
  16. A Dave Walker cartoon about all the funny things you find in church vestries.
  17. A box of masks.
  18. Pegs and pigeon holes labelled with the names of the members of the former quire. Many of whom are now dead. Just in case they reform.
  19. A glasses case, from an opticians that closed sometime in the last century.
  20. Some buttons.
  21. Numerous half-used bottles of hand sanitiser.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Lament for the Church Printer Going Wrong

Woe is me for the Church Printer is going wrong
On the night when I have to produce the service sheet
And though the duplexer functions not,
yet I figured I could manually duplex 50 copies
Except I put them back in the wrong side up
and printed pages 2 and 3 over pages 1 and 4
And when I started again
I put them back in the wrong way round 
so now you have to turn the service sheets upside down
to read them when you should just turn the page.
And now onto the third set of prints
The pages are covered with grey streaks

The liturgy cannot be read
and the blackness of the ink 
means that it looks more like unto a funeral
than a pet service.

My heart fails within me
for it could need a new black toner cartridge

But the printer app says it's at 40 per cent and if it's something else I've lost a cartridge
Or, at least, 40 per cent of one.

And now the printer's not talking to the PC
or the PC's not talking to the printer

So I reboot the PC
but it's not worked.

So I reboot the printer
but that's not worked.

And now I reboot both
and that's not worked.

So I reboot them in the other sequence 
and they're talking to each other.

So I print the document
But after twenty minutes when nothing happens
I realise I've sent it to the other printer
In the Moot House.

Which is why Burton Dassett is now screaming that the Moot House is haunted
so at least some good came out of it.

I print it again.
No - that's gone to PDF.

Reboot the printer.
Reboot the PC.

Reboot in the opposite order.
Reboot both.

Behold for I have a perfect pamphlet 
printed the right way round 

On the special paper we bought for the service
On which I printed  all those wasted service sheets

So now I only have four sheets left
and forty-nine to print.

And the data projector's bulb has gone
And last year's pet service orders have the wrong date on them

So I shall go down to the Moot House
and paint the order of service on the walls.

It may not be the best solution
but it's all I can face.

Give me a minute
while I drop the printer out of the window.
Oops it landed on Burton
So that's two good things.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Clergy to Authorise Heating Subsidies for Parishioners

As Brexit Britain struggles with how to cope with the cost of energy, the Government is proposing a radical new approach to keeping the needy just about alive. 

I can reveal that Nadim Zahawi, or whoever is Chancellor this week, has been in discussions with the Archbishops' Council with a view to enabling Church of England clergy to authorise heating subsidies for parishioners.

"The theory is elegant in the extreme", said a Tory source. "It is well-known that Chuch of England clergy live in houses so cold that in midwinter they can make an additional income source from selling liquid nitrogen. Who better to judge whether someone else has a genuine need for help with heating their house, or is just a bit nesh?"

According to the new scheme, the clergy will visit the potential claimant's house, sit down for a cup of tea - or a glass of ice if the electric has been cut off - and determine whether the claimant's house is colder than their vicarage. If it is, the clergy will sign the form authorising the claimant to get a 10% discount on their gas bill. If the clergy feels that in fact the claimant's house is warmer than their own house, they will instead offer advice on sitting under lots of fleeces, eating warming chillis, or organising lots of meetings in other people's houses.

The Daily Express has this week been advocating the use of wood-burning stoves as an alternative to gas or electric heating. If you don't have a wood burning stove, why not try being middle class?

A wood burning stove, with a fire lit, and a scuttle and companion set. Like middle class people have in the country.
If you work hard, you could have one of these

Sunday 14 August 2022

Change of Outrage

With the change to weather expected tomorrow, please note the following changes:

What no longer to get self-righteous about
The heat
People walking their dogs in the heat
People using hosepipes
Disposable barbecues
Back-garden swimming pools
People chucking fag ends out of car windows
Lack of reservoirs
People wearing masks in public
Chinese lanterns
People saying "isn't it hot"
Car alarms
People clogging up the NHS with sunburn
People using showers while not standing in a bucket.

What to start getting self-righteous about
The rain
People walking their dogs in the rain
People who live next to rivers getting upset about flooding
People wearing masks in public
Blocked drains
People who dance in the garden in torn sheets in the rain
People clogging up the NHS being struck by lightning
In-house swimming pools
People saying "isn't it wet"
People using prepositions to end sentences with.

Monday 8 August 2022

The Woodlanders Stop Working from Home

As the clock struck 1 in the morning, Marty South dropped another bundle of thatch spars by the door, and returned to her chair. The fire, flaring bright when she had put on the waste wood, had already resumed its sulky, sullen glow. Somewhere out in the woods, a badger unwrapped a hedgehog.

She picked up the next spar gad, examining it for the perfect place to split it. Her father's snores drifted down the stairs. Marty was surprised to hear a tap at the door.

"Oh," she cried, "is that Barber Percombe, a-come to buy my beautiful long hair to make a wig for Mrs Charmond,  the rich lady at the hall?"

"No," came the answer.

"Then it must be Doctor Fitzpiers, come to ask my father if he can buy his brain when he dies."

"Indeed not."

"Then - oh - could it be - is it Giles Winterborne, come to ask me to be his wife?"

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Then who are you, stranger?"

The door opened, and in loped a man of the proportions of a willow wand. He wore the year's latest most fashionable clothes, and a top hat.

"I have always worked from home, Sir."

"And do you work flexi-time?"

"I am sorry, Sir. I do not understand your up-country speech."

"Do you work when you like?"

"I do, Sir. Although, thanks to my father's sickness, "when I like" is actually all the time. During the night I make thatch spars. And in the day I plant..."

"Never mind, never mind. This is just the kind of woke attitude that caused Master Starbux's coffee house to go out of business. I expect to see you in the smoke factory in Shottsford-Forum at 5 sharp of this morning. If you should start walking now you will have time to beg for a crust from a passing mail coach."

He stopped, and looked at Marty's ungloved right hand, red and sore from her night's work.

"Excellent. Excellent."

And he was gone into the night.

Sunday 7 August 2022

Cathedral Reception Desk Standard Questions

Hello - are you visiting the exhibition?

So are you visiting to see the architecture?

Are you a benchmark bagger? We have special rates.

While you're here "to pray" - do you think you might be looking at some of the architecture? Just on the sly?

You're not going to nip off and look at the exhibiton while you claim to be praying, are you?

Why would you need to pray in a cathedral anyway? Don't you know God's everywhere? And without an entrance fee.

Do you normally go to your own church? Or is this more a tourism kind of thing? 

Can't you afford the "suggested donation"?

Are you sure you don't have a camera?

You will be keeping your phone in your pocket at all times, won't you?

You know it's not Evensong until 4.30. Are you sure you'll just be praying?

Will you please follow Archnold, who will escort you to the Prayer Square? Please don't leave the Square.

How can you prove you're a member of the clergy?

How do I know that's not a fake dog collar?

Are you sure you haven't stolen that clerical shirt? 

Where can I find you in Crockfords?

How was I supposed to know you're the Archdeacon of Barchester?

Sins Like Scarlet

I  know people complain about modern chemicals. But they could make some right odd things in the old days. The Romans used the slime from sea snails to make Imperial Purple, for instance. And getting the slime out of sea-snails is such a performance, that only very rich people could afford purple clothes.

And scarlet - you got scarlet by grinding up bugs called kermes. And again it's a fast dye, it doesn't run when you wash it. And because it's so intensive to make, it became the colour of royalty and cardinals and other powerful people. And of sin.

The Revelation of John was long after Isaiah's time, no matter how late scholars have dated their latest invented Isaiah. But when St John came to write about the Whore of Bablyon, there's no doubt about the colour of her clothes. Scarlet. The colour of exploitation. The colour of murdering millions of tiny bugs just to have a splash of brightness. The colour you can only afford in bulk if you have made a stash and want to flaunt it : "Whore of Babylon flaunts her side-boob in scarlet bikini" - Daily Mail.

Thing about scarlet is, it's a fast dye. Once it's in your clothes, it sticks. And it's very bright. A lovely orangey-red. It strikes your eye. It's said that Liverpool FC started wearing all-red strips because Bill Shankly thought it would psychologically scare opponents. Well, yesterday's game against Fulham would suggest that ain't true all the time. But certainly we won the league the year he changed the strip.

So as a colour associated with wealth, danger, being unmissable, and yet unremovable - It's the perfect symbol for sin.

And God says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool." 

Isaiah's book is just starting. And it's gonna be a long old series of woes on the way to a return to the Promised Land, a lot of sin before the Suffering Servant. But Isaiah puts it up front. All the things you do wrong - all the things you've done wrong - all those you will do wrong - cling to you like a fast dye, and rage at you like the brightest red sunburn.

And, says God, I will take them away.

All the stuff you've got wrong, all the hurts you've caused, all the hurts you cling onto, all the selfishness you hold close to your heart - forget them. If you choose me, and reject those sins, and follow what is right - then I already have.

And it's later in the prophecy, when the Servant sings his song, and later again, when a virgin gives birth and that child is Immanuel, that the way God's forgiving works is revealed. By his stripes we are healed, says Isaiah 53. The sins that bring us back to the past, that colour our relationships with God and each other, that we cannot wash away with good intentions or good deeds - are washed away in the stream of scarlet that pours from Messiah's veins.

Though our sins are like scarlet, yet in God they are white as snow. Don't look for them- they are gone.

Saturday 6 August 2022

Covid Secure Service

 OK. We have a problem.

Aware that people who are still Covid-concerned didn't want to come to the main Moot House celebration on Sunday morning, we introduced the "Not Very Popular Service" at 4pm. 

But so many people were Covid-concerned, we now have more people coming to the "Not Very Popular Service" than the main one. 

We've tried everything to whittle it down to just the genuinely concerned. Enforcing aqualungs. Refusing to share a chalice. Singing only Sydney Carter Hymns*.

But the "Not Very Popular Service" goes from strength to strength. We've even had to  lay on a video feed to the undercroft, where people are packed in to enjoy the space and freedom from concern.

So we're now introducing the "Really Not Very Popular Service" at 5 pm. It's like the 4pm service. But we've banned antiperspirant.

I think it might really take off.

* Not "Lord of the Dance". We're not barbarians.

Monday 1 August 2022

A Reet Ritual for Yorkshire Day

Archdruid: Ow do?

All: Gradely. Gradely.

Archdruid: Where hast been sin I saw thee?

All: On Ilkley Moor Baht at.

Archdruid: Yer'll have had yer Yorksher tea?

All: Aye.

Archdruid: And 'ows t'Yorkshire internet?

All: What's in t'net?

Archdruid: No. Internet.

All: Nay. We're all right. We've got Yorkshire internet. 

Archdruid: And 'ows Our Eric?

All: Gradely.

Archdruid: And Our Kid?

All: Gradely.

Archdruid: And Their Kid?


And Geoffrey Boycott?

All: Still batting.

Boycott: 73 runs off 356,444 balls and not a chance outside the off stump.

Archdruid: Is it time t' push t'owdest barmpot down t'dale in t'bathtub?

All: Aye.

Owdest Barmpot: Oh no. Not again.

T'Owdest Barmpot is pushed down t'dale in t'bathtub.

Compo from Last of the Summer Wine going downhill in a bathtub


Closing Hymn: "Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire" (trad)

There will be a closing collection. Though we don't know why we'd bother. 


Sunday 31 July 2022

Organist Donors Needed

To inform Beaker Folk of our musical situation today:

Oddric, our accordionist, is on holiday.
Micro, the player of electronic keyboards, is on holiday.
Tandrik, the banjolele player, is on holiday.
Godfrilla, the flautist is on holiday.
All the children, potential players of ocarinae, are on holiday.
The percussion section is on holiday.
Our collection of "1,000 easy hymns for churches without organists" is in 8-track format in a digital world. Which, to be fair, sums up my life.
Which leaves us Young Keith on the spoons.

It is our tradition, in the manner of Psalm 68:25, to publish the processional order of musicians: "In the front are the singers, after them the musicians, and then come the girls with the tambourines".

So here we have it: "In the front is nobody, after them nobody, and then comes Keith with the spoons".

Praise God in the sparse congregation.

Thursday 28 July 2022

In Memoriam, Bernard Cribbins

Introit: The Wombling Song

Archdruid: Right.

All: Have a cuppa tea?

Archdruid: We'd like to apologise for the lack of music on this Occasion. Unfortunately the piano is stuck on the landing.

All: Give a shout for Charlii?

Charlii: We give thanks for the only man to be two Doctor Who companions.

All: Quite a regeneration.

Archdruid: Wasn't he a Hinchcliffe from Alderson Street?

Bernard Cribbins, skiing on the back of a van, as Gavin Hinchcliffe

Norman Clegg: There are a lot of rumours to that effect.

All: Have another cup of tea?

Archdruid: And now he has carried on off his mortal coil, drifted over the horizon on Old Jack's boat, told his final story, and is wombling free in a land where celestial pianos are forever standing on the landing, to look for his heavenly Gulf Stream, to tend an allotment which is watered by the River of Life and produces 12 harvests a year.

Charlii: "In my Father's house are many rooms"

Mr Hutchinson: And they are all up to the standard required by hotel inspectors.

Tea will be served after the ceremony

Wednesday 27 July 2022

The Remains of the Pandemic - 2099

 The year is 2099. Around England, churches maintain the remembrance of the rituals they adopted in response to the Covid pandemic.

At St Margaret's, Flimpning, people use hand sanitiser every fifteen minutes.

At St Bilberry's, Lesser Thong, they all sit 2 metres apart. Just as they have since 1732.

At St Boris's, Fridgehampton, there is still a sign telling people to stay out of the chancel.The congregation believe the air is more infectious there than in the nave.

At St Mungo's, Midgeley, the president intincts the bread with the wine through an eye dropper, then distributes the bread while wearing a haz-mat suit.

At Holy Cross, Rempford, the Bibles and prayer books are kept in a glass-fronted safe. On Plough Mondays, the congregation are allowed to look at them. But only look. Never touch.

At St Celestine's Middling-in-the-Moor, the altar frontal is black and yellow and reads "Hands-Face-Space".

At St Kettering's, Coglington, a 2 meter long wooden ruler is carried in the procession by the Metrifer and laid on the altar steps.

In St Philemon's, Bilgewater, every other pew is still roped off with black and yellow tape.

At St John's, Gerbley, they just got the faculty to replace the black and yellow tape with black and yellow railings.

At St Apollos's, South Shillington-with-Wombleswade, they wear liturgucally coloured masks. 


Nobody can remember why any of these things occur. But they know if they don't do it, something will happen.


Wednesday 20 July 2022

Birkenstock Sunday

It's always a bit boring liturgically this time of year. Harvest a way off and Midsummer is past.

And what with the weather being hot, we have to take care of the clergy. Some like to go barefoot to lead liturgy. Which puts them at risk from wax spillage from candles, of course. But also - consider the temperature of church paths. 

If you're worried about your clergy burning their feet on badly maintained asphalt, my advice is to put your hand down on the path for 10 seconds. If you can't, it's too hot for barefoot clergy.

Likewise be careful of allowing your clergy to go out for walks in this weather. Especially the ones who, goth-like, go out all in black. Ensure that if they're out visiting they get a cup of tea or elderflower pressé wherever they go. But be careful. Some clergy apparently manage to visit 20 parishioners a week. And that much elderflower pressé can wreak havoc on a clerical metabolism. So an alternative is to leave out a small saucer of gin and tonic. Ideally with a few pebbles in, so flower arrangers can climb out.

If your clergy is in the habit of going out in a soutane, encourage them to consider a straw hat or even a biretta. The brim may save their noses from sunburn.

But all things considered I think it's time to let the clergy lighten their mood clothes-wise after the heat of this week (and with the temperature predicted as 86°F this Sunday.
That is why we are declaring Clerical Birkenstock Sunday. Clergy of all denominations are encouraged to wear sandals, flip-flops or kitten heeled strappy shoes. Aware that Birkenstock is not the only brand of sandal, you could also consider the hard-wearing Doctor Marten variety, as we will be modelling in the Moot House. 

But not red Crocs. They're for Pentecost. And ditch the socks, people.
Bermuda Shorts should be considered liturgical wear this Sunday, as opposed to the tedious ties and chinos of the HTB brigade.

And if you must wear alb and amice, why not ditch the cassock? That way people might get a glimpse of your Bermuda Shorts.

Birkenstock Sunday. North Oxford churches may make their own arrangements.

Monday 18 July 2022

About Durocobrivae: Dunstable's Traffic Problems Start

 Inspired by an endless complaint on Dunstable's social media page

  • Arthur the Druid

Can't believe the mess the Romans have made building Watling Street through the town. Took me a week to get from the Ridgeway to Waulud's Bank. And even that was only after diverting through the Five Knolls

  • Weetabix the Farmer

I mean. Who thought it was a good idea just driving a new road straight across the Icknield Way like that? No consideration for the people driving cattle already. I know they say they're cutting the time to Londinium to two days. And it will be really handy in 2,000 years when they build Milton Keynes. But it's just a mess at the minute.

  • Arthur the Druid

In my opinion they should never have drained that swamp at Hockliffe. Yeah, it was a problem getting trench foot every time you went to the Beefeater. But it stopped the Iceni invading.

  • Copydex the Glue Maker

The Iceni invading? You been sniffing glue? I have, obviously. But doesn't mean you all have to. No way are the Iceni invading.

  • Arthur the Druid

They won't need to now. Straight down Watling Street, over the lights and on down to Verulamium. You mark my words, if this new road doesn't lead to the destruction of several cities my name's Caractacus.

  • Copydex the Glue-Maker

All we need to sort it out is a kind of double roundabout. Then it's dead easy for anybody coming down from Lactodorum, take a nice easy left and you're on Church Street. I wonder why it's called Church Street?

  • Weetabix the Farmer

The Beaker Folk tried a double roundabout. It was all right for the locals. But it was the Londiniumites. They came up here at weekends, couldn't understand it, panicked and next thing you knew, chaos. I remember when there used to be ox carts stacked up all the way back to Magiovinium.

  • Copydex the Glue-Maker

And why do they have to make it so straight? They had to knock down 4 hovels coming down Half Moon Hill and they could have just gone round them. No respect. There was a Holy Oak at Markate. Cut it down and went straight through. They could have just gone round it on either side.

  • Weetabix the Farmer

I blame it on Europe. Them Romans drive on the right over there. Come over here and they've got no idea what they're doing

  • Arthur the Druid

It's gonna wreck trade in the town centre now you can get to Deva in a fortnight. Who's going to buy woad on the market now?

  • Weetabix the Farmer

The market's gone compared to what it was back in Neolithic Times. They should never have moved it outside the Boudiccas Way Hall.

  • Arthur the Druid
It was charging for parking really did it. Came out Tiffanix's Disco last week and they'd clamped my chariot. Only been ten minutes over the three hours.