Goodness! Schism breaks out in Tunbridge Wells! In my day it was Dr. Pusey who rattled ecclesiastical cages, not to mention Bishop Colenso of Natal, but now it seems my own party within the Anglican family, the Evangelicals, are in the vanguard of radicalism. I mentioned these developments to Archdeacon Grantly after Eucharist the other day and his response was one of triumphalism.
“About time too, dear lady,” he snorted, waving his rolled-up copy of the Church Times in the air like Aaron’s Rod. “For too long the limp-wristed lettuce-wilting liberal fol-de-rols of St. Marx have had their own way, moving the Church towards cultural relativism, Common Worship and kumbaya codswallop. As for the bishopess who refused the Queen’s mandate until the loathsome phrase ‘Father in God’ was removed from the liturgy, I am sure there’s a special place in Dante’s third ring reserved for the likes of her, buried up to her neck in bulls**t next to Polly Toynbee and that Alibaba-Brown creature. We should rejoice, Mrs. Proudie, for these establishment wallahs don’t like it up ‘em! First we had Brexit – now we have Evangexit! Rejoice, rejoice I say!”
(Note to self: check alcohol content of last batch of communion wine and relieve the Archdeacon of the key to the cupboard).
I left him revolving on the spot in his gaiters and quietly slipped away to the Reginald Bosenquet Temperance Tea House on the High Street for a spot of tiffin. This estimable establishment stands opposite to Mustafa Fatwah’s new business venture, The Fragrant Goat (Halal) Laundry and Burkini Boutique, which I noticed was attracting a large number of swarthy, furtive types carrying large parcels. My first thought, quite naturally, was these were merely bundles of dirty washing, until one fell upon the cobbles with an almighty ‘CLANG’ only to be picked up and removed in great haste. That Mr. Fatwah has his fingers in many pies (amongst other things) so who knows what is being planned in the fetid souk of his devious mind? I ordered Earl Grey and thought of pleasanter things, such as Hillary Clinton’s arrest on charges of corruption. If only… if only…
It is heartwarming, is it not, to learn that the boat-loads of refugees flooding into Europe are all doctors, dentists, university professors or qualified plumbers? How enriched we are all going to be, and what a boon to our overstretched public services this new workforce will make. This is what The Jupiter tells us each and every morning, so it must be true. If any of these young fellows are qualified bricklayers they could perhaps find employment with Mr. Trump, whom I believe has a plan for extensive construction work along the Mexican border.
More trouble at Barchester Infirmary with those pesky junior doctors. Signora Neroni went along this morning for her usual physiotherapy session only to find the way blocked by screaming medicals waving placards and protesting about working conditions. If they think they’re being hard-done to they should have a word with our chimney sweep’s lad – we call him Sooty – and that would set them right. Of course these days medics – like politicians – take the Hypocritical Oath, which means they can spout nonsense about defending the health service whilst damaging it. The Bishop and I ‘go private’ of course. I for one prefer the soothing hands of Dr. Thorne, who has an excellent bedside manner, to the brutish ministrations of a Yahoo.
What with the hullabaloo at Thorneythwaite Farm in the Lake District I was somewhat surprised to learn the Duke of Omnium is thinking of handing over Gatherum Castle to the National Trust. This once noble organisation is now the home of eco-warriors and lentil weavers, latter-day Diggers who care nothing for old buildings and everything for newt-infested habitats. If the duke goes ahead he may find the castle turned into holiday flats at best, or sold off to architectural salvagers at worst. I shall invite him for tea and an ear-bashing in due course, along with that nice Lord Bragg – the Bouffant Bookman – for there isn’t a man in Barset I cannot manipulate. Make of that what you will.
Well, ‘tis time to put down my electric quill and go down to Barchester Meadows where, in the shadow of the Cathedral, we are holding the annual Great Barset Fair. I am supervising a team of ladies making Earl Grey and dispensing hobnobs in the Refreshment Marquee. Mr. Slope offered his services as a palmist but I soon put a stop to that notion: now he is doing something with coconuts. My Lord the Bishop will perform the official opening and preach on the text:
‘They went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards and trod them, and held a festival…‘ (Judges 9:27).
They did indeed – and I will be there to make sure they clean up afterwards. Adieu, dear friends.