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.