mrs proudie
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The archaic notion that universities are bastions of liberty and free speech

Lawks a-mercy! The townsfolk of Barchester were somewhat startled the other day when a gaudily-dressed charivari trundled through Bishop Fondling’s Postern (13th century) into the Market Square. The vivid rainbow colours of the conveyance, together with the ribbons adorning the horse’s mane, certainly brightened up a dull-as-ditchwater morning, but even more remarkable were the blowzy women on board. Were they travelling vagabonds determined to sell pegs, tell fortunes or proffer curses? Carrot-red hair and jingly-jangly jewellery, they looked like pantomime dames… and then the pennies dropped… coppers, naturally. There before the multitude, cavorting in bloomers and makeup, were Constable Knapweed and Inspector Cuffem.

“What is the meaning of this exhibition,” I demanded, trying to keep Mr. Slope on a leash as he was clearly beside himself with glee.

“It is called outreach, Ma’am,” said the inspector, “Part of the new policy towards minorities. Today we are connecting with the LGBGTQWERTY brigade: tomorrow we shall be daubing ourselves with boot polish, playing banjos and making chums with the ethnics.”

“Surely that would be offensive,” I remarked, “Not to mention turning Barchester police into some sort of minstrel show. More to the point, if the police go out of their way to identify with minorities and not the majority, how can they claim to be impartial? Isn’t your job to enforce the law without fear or favour? Do you seriously believe these cavortings earn you respect?”

He sniffed.

“We are just doing our bit, Mrs. Proudie.”

I noticed his nails were painted a stunning shade of azure which, I am informed, is called ‘Boys in Blue’. Very bold.

“But this is a waste of time and resources,” I countered. “Shouldn’t you be pounding the beat, looking out for burglars and cutthroats? Isn’t that what ratepayers expect?”

“You are behind the times, Ma’am,” replied the Inspector, as Constable Knapweed rattled his tambourine and fluttered false eyelashes at a passing dragoon. “We have boxes to tick and quotas to fill – that’s what modern policing is all about. Remember, we are no longer a force – we provide a service.”

Dressed like that I shudder to think what sort of service is on offer, though Mr. Slope is much taken with the idea.

A letter from the Revd. Professor Aloysius Combustible, Pro-Vice Chancellor of East Barset Technical University, landed upon my Lord the Bishop’s desk on Wednesday, seeking advice. It appears some low-grade flagellant in Westmonster has asked all universities and colleges to provide a list of those academics offering lectures on Brexit. Alarm bells are ringing throughout academe, with cries of ‘Witch-hunt’ and ‘Persecution’ and ‘Safe-spaces’ resounding in every quadrangle.

“How should I respond? What should I do?” asked the poor Pro-Vice Chancellor, desperate to defend his fellow Marxist tub-thumpers yet not wishing to close the door to any preferment or gong that might come his way. His missive went on to assert the archaic notion that universities are bastions of liberty and free speech, places in which ideas are floated and discussed without fear of suppression.

At this point I fell on the floor laughing my head off (thank goodness for a well-cushioned bustle). Academics sent liberty and free speech to the naughty step years ago, long before even the Blair creature stalked the land and turned everything inside out. As soon as I told my Lord the Bishop what his opinion was on the matter, he replied to the Pro-Vice Chancellor with the short and pithy phrase, ‘Get a grip.’

Mrs. Tereason Dismay’s negotiations in Brussels are not going too well. There are whispers that she sits around the table sobbing her heart out and giving in to every suggestion made by Mr. Juncker, which usually involved alcohol. I do hope she avoids the gin – ‘mother’s ruin’ we used to call it; a drink almost guaranteed to take the lachrymose down the road to deep depression (though I understand it is somewhat fashionable again). Well, there is much to cry and feel depressed about these days, to be sure, and I for one have come to the belief that we shall never be allowed to escape the clutches of the ever-grasping Zollverein.

Mr. Davis too has rolled over, for the British Bulldog has self-identified with the dachshundoodle. Now he tells us we shall still be subject to the European Courts after leaving the evil Empire – something that has to be challenged as unconstitutional. Mrs. Dismay’s job was to go through the motions, make an absolute mess of the whole thing and allow Comrade Corbynov and his Venezuela-bandwagoners to go into reverse gear and introduce toilet-paper rationing. As I remarked to the Archdeacon,

“One may take a cleric’s daughter out of the rectory, but one can’t take the wreck-Tory out of the cleric’s daughter…”

Strange, isn’t it, now the lid is being taken off the murky doings of ex-President Bollock O’Barmey, the American press are not interested? Why, it seems the most natural thing in the world to subvert the constitution and accrue powers to spy on every American citizen, to actively promote third-world illegal immigration and to use the Inland Revenue Service to target opponents. Now we learn the Clinton Foundation actually paid for the dodgy dossier on candidate Trumpelstiltskin, fabricating links with the Russians and making up the O’Barmey bed-wetting story. It is all so disagreeable. Needless to say, the Archdeacon has an opinion.

“Blatant chicanery worthy of Tammany Hall, dear lady,” he spluttered as we passed through the Great West Door of the Cathedral (12th century) on our way to Canon Mountchorister’s ‘Come as you are’ coffee morning after matins on Thursday.

“That panty-suited termagant and her dip-your-bread-in-tell-them-nothing disgrace of a husband are the ones behind the unravelling of Western society. Mr. Clinton is a stain on democracy… as well as Miss Lewinsky’s ensemble. The Hildabeast’s ‘What does it matter?’ attitude to the loss of American lives at the hands of a Mahdistical mob and Bill’s “Pssst… wanna buy a bomb?” style of international diplomacy have left us standing before Satan’s Gate oiling the hinges.

“A little extreme, Archdeacon?” I ventured.

“Indeed they are, the pair of them,” he chortled.

Obituary in The Jupiter: Fats Domino dies: if only he had consulted Mrs. Beeton on calorific intake he might be Thin Domino and still with us…

Cheering news from Austria. Now they have elected a right-thinking government I look forward to the return of the Hapsburgs and a new personal union with Hungary.

Well my dears, I have prattled on long enough and fear it is time to sign off for another week. We are busy preparing for Bonfire Night, and Mr. Slope has promised to do a guy. The old gentlemen from Hiram’s Hospital are bringing in the faggots and we have quite a pyre dominating the Cathedral Close, waiting for my Lord the Bishop to set all ablaze. So, as the Catherine Wheel of Intransigence spins round and round on the fixed pole of Berlaymont and the Woolly Mammoth that is BoJo gets frozen out by the slow-moving glacier that is the kitten-shoed Appeaser, I bid you a very fond adieu.

  • Inspector General

    “Excuse me officer. Can I inform you of a lost dog running loose in the High Street with his lead behind him”

    “I’m sorry madam, I’m a tranny. And not a very good one at that as you can see. But I well understand you mistaking me for one of today’s diversity embracing policemen.”

    • Bernard from Bucks

      See, zie’s lifting up hir skirts and dancing a jig, whilst passers by throw hir money.

      • Inspector General

        Bright fellow…At last, LGBT inclusive language that can be taught at school…

        Pronoun
        (third-person singular, gender-neutral, objective case, reflexive hirself)

        (neologism) them (singular). Gender-neutral third-person singular object pronoun, coordinate with him and her.

        Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/hir#ZwcL6giBBRq50puy.99

  • Father David

    Ma’am your reference to minstrels makes me think that it is a long time since the BBC broadcast “The Black and White Minstrel Show” of a Saturday night. I recall a funeral I took several years ago and one of the tenors from that very show gave a rendition in song of the Lord’s Prayer. Mercifully, he forgot to pack the Cherry Blossom. If you ask me the rot set into television once they changed from black and white to colour! In those days they used to have good programmes on like – The Billy Cotton Band Show with Russ Conway and Kathy Kirby, Billy Bunter and Whacko. I can’t think why they don’t shew them anymore – good wholesome family entertainment.

    • Manfarang

      Wakey Wakey
      And Alan Breeze with ‘ I Can’t Do My Bally Bottom Button Up ‘

      • Father David

        Good old Billy Cotton, a great entertainer with his Wakey – Wake-aaay, followed by the signature tune “Somebody stole my gal”. How we miss dear Russ Conway playing “Sidesaddle”
        Earlier I mentioned Kathy Kirby – I meant, of course, Kathy Kay, she of the beautiful vocals. Happy days, happy memories!

        • CliveM

          I remember none of this, you must be really, really old!

          Now the Dick Emery Show!

          • Manfarang

            Six Five Special

            Lonnie Donegan , Tommy Steele, and my hero Freddie Mills.

          • Father David

            What a galaxy of characters Dick Emery created. My favourites were the vicar and Mandy. I also liked Clarence who referred to the interviewer as “Honky Tonks”; I’m not sure if her would be sufficiently P C for today’s viewers though?

        • Hi

          What about Arthur Askey ? Bees are cool.

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A2skW43HNpE

          • Father David

            Ay thang yew!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I had forgotten Whacko…ah the programmes we used to enjoy

      • Father David

        Didn’t we just, dear lady, didn’t we just? Professor Jimmy Edwards as the Headmaster with the much put upon Mr. Pettigrew (played first by Arthur Howard and later by Julian Orchard). Poor old Mr. Dinwiddie and young Mr. Halliforth, a role taken by Edward Apps who later went on to co-write another great series set in a Cathedral Close with which, no doubt, you are also familiar – “All Gas and Gaiters”.

        • Anton

          I always thought it was better than Oh Brother, although I can only remember the theme tune of the latter (not the words, sadly – can anyone help?)

          • Father David

            AGAG was infinitely superior to Oh Brother and is still held in kindly affection by many people as it depicted the Church of England when it was the Church of England.
            Can’t help much with the Oh Brother lyrics Anton but the theme tune began with the chiming of the monastery bell and the monks beginning to sing –
            “Here in our peaceful, peaceful setting…..”

          • Anton

            Thank you. It has been released on DVD so perhaps someone reading this has it an can transcribe?

            Mrs Proudie in particular should enjoy All Gas And Gaiters.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I did then and do now, for I have purchased a DVD

          • Father David

            I’m sure that Mrs. Proudie enjoyed AGAG but we must recall that Bishop Cuthbert Hever was a bachelor. The first lady of the Cathedral Close was the Dean’s wife – Grace Pugh-Critchley,

          • Pubcrawler

            Oh Brother YouTube

            https://youtu.be/o0sm22gC9tA

          • Anton

            Same tune; thank you! But obviously different words.

      • Pubcrawler

        The radio version of Whacko was recently repeated on Radio 4 Extra, as are many other classic series from more wholesome times.

      • dannybhoy

        One of Mr Slopes favourites, no doubt…

    • Redrose82

      And before that there was a radio programme called “The Kentucky Minstrels” (showing my age). It featured the male members of the BBC singers as the minstrels conducted by Leslie Woodgate. The show was produced by Harry S Pepper and his wife Doris Arnold made the arrangements of the songs in the show. These arrangements became standards for male voice choirs and many are still sung today. Unfortunately others would fall foul of present day political correctness which is a pity.

      • Father David

        “radio”? The wireless, surely?
        Was this programme on the Home Service?

        • Redrose82

          A quick reference to the internet informs me that the show ran from 1933 to 1950.

          • Father David

            I’m sure that it gladdened the heart of Lord Reith, the First Director General of the BBC. But did the show “inform, educate and entertain”?

          • Redrose82

            Well it certainly entertained and was a very popular show. I recall that a feature of the show was a humorous conversation between two characters who went by the names of Amos and Andy. They were in fact an American comedy duo and their conversation include much de and dat and so forth.

          • Father David

            Did Amos and Andy tell jokes that were as corny as Kansas in August? Like
            What has four legs, wings and flies around?
            ANS Why, a dead dog!
            What has eight legs, wings and flies around?
            ANS Why, two dead dogs!
            I seems to remember such material from an old 78 RPM record belonging to my late father.

          • Redrose82

            Hey, we’re talking 70 years or so back and although my memory is pretty good it doesn’t stretch to remembering such detail Anyway I’ve just discovered that Amos and Andy later had a programme on TV and there are excerpts from it on Youtube so you can see for yourself if you are so inclined.

          • Father David

            What’s more – on the radio they were voiced by two white actors – Freeman Gosden (Amos) and Charles Correll (Andy).

    • Royinsouthwest

      The salaries the BBC paid in those days were more realistic too.

      • Father David

        I’m afraid that I have no idea what Auntie paid Alvar Liddell and John Snagge by way of remuneration?

  • CliveM

    Mrs Proudie I will be honest, I find your weekly contribution both funny and depressing. Uplifting and demoralising.

    It’s not that your observation is inaccurate, it’s that it too accurate!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Oh dear Clive, but I only scribble to entertain….

      • CliveM

        And provoke thought I think.

        • dannybhoy

          Yes I agree. It’s wrapped in something resembling “All Gas and Gaiters” (still a peculiarly apt description of modern Anglicanism)

          …meets “The Episcopals; an everyday story of queer folk”
          Whoever it is who writes this stuff deserves either our

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Stop prodding…

      • Bernard from Bucks

        “Many a true word is spoken in jest” is it not?

    • IrishNeanderthal

      I find the same.

  • Manfarang

    Does The Jupiter outshine the Sunday Mercury?

    • dannybhoy

      Like comparing the two cheeks of a full moon..

      • Royinsouthwest

        That can only be done once a month.

  • now the lid is being taken off the murky doings of ex-President Bollock O’Barmey, the American press are not interested

    The Democrats’ reward for being more enthusiastic than the Republicans about trashing the America of the Founding Fathers, demographically and sociologically, a long held objective of the owners of America’s media.

  • Chris Bell

    Oh Lawks a mercy Mrs Proudie my suspenders have fallen away and I am undone having perused to the best of my miserable intelligence your latest addition His missal. My prayers for this mawkish world are, heaven forbid, becoming bubbles of half stifled splutterings of risible raucous laughter. How can I maintain my dignity now?? I implore you…Desist!!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Would that be just a thong at twilight?

      • Royinsouthwest

        Is he suffering from a th…lisp?

      • Chris Bell

        Oh my goodness me thou hast done it again, now it just be a dirgeful swan thong.

    • Gird your loins ….

      • Chris Bell

        These loins are becoming difficult to en-girdle.

  • dannybhoy

    I am becoming seriously worried about your Mr Slope.
    He may be a fine upstanding Anglican, but there’s something clerically kinky and unChristian about the man.
    This may go down well In Synodian circles, but it sets (I think) a bad example to members of the choir and congregation.
    ‘E needs sacking Mrs Proudie, sacking…

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Mr. Slope came with impeccable references.

  • Norman Yardy

    Most entertaining Mrs P.
    Dear old Sir Robert Peel will turning in his grave!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Thank you, dear Norman, so kind.

  • Superb Mrs Proudie.
    We need to somehow get Mr Rees-Mogg instead of David Davis to negotiate with the evil empire, he has said we must first get out of the ECJ and get our own law making abilities declared supreme over that of the European courts before anything else is agreed. I see his point, Mr Davis and Tereason Dismay are going about the negotiations the wrong way.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I agree dear Marie, but how to nobble Mr. Davis?

      • Mr Davis seems all in favour of concentrating on us meeting our moral obligations and seems to be taking a give it away soft and friendly approach as opposed to us concentrating on our legal obligations first with anything else a bonus for the EU to argue for after the legal side has been established. I would place Mr Rees-Mogg as legal Brexit negotiator in situ from now on and hold Mr Davis back to do some more homework on the trade and customs side and also to liaise closely with Mr Rees-Mogg.
        We need to take a firm serious stance in order to be taken seriously and I don’t feel that Mr Davis conveys a serious enough stance. He’s too charming and jokey, they aren’t taking him seriously enough.

        • Anton

          Davis has always been a good man in the past and I suspect his hands are tied. Trouble is, we can’t ditch May until Brexit for risk of letting Corbyn in. But I’ll tell you who I’d appoint to sit next to Davis in the negotiations. Farage.

          • I agree.
            I think we need more brains on the case, after all they have Verhuffanpuff, Junket, Barnear, and Tusk. I think we need a team too.

          • Anton

            We need to make clear that we are OK with no deal.

            The present negotiations are about a price we have to pay to begin the real negotiations. There is a grey area insofar as the EU is partway though a 7-year budget interval and can argue that the UK should pay to the end of that because the UK agreed to that budget and interval. But by and large, we should be ready to shrug. Germany needs free trade with us.

          • Yes, but legally we don’t owe them a penny.

          • Anton

            I don’t know what you mean by “legally”. We are bound by our own signature and in 2013 we signed up to a 7-year budget. We need to look at the small print of that agreement and the small print of the withdrawal mechanism.

          • IanCad

            I’ve been very much behind Davis, and have thought of him as the best leader the Tories could have. I’ve been wrong before – maybe now, over Davis as well.

          • bluedog

            Isn’t Davis totally demoralised by May? That’s this writer’s impression and it explain’s his sudden lurch towards defeatism.

          • IanCad

            Any true conservative, I would think, is going to be demoralised by Mrs May. Maybe particularly so for Davis, enduring as long as he has amid that nest of vipers.

          • CliveM

            Davis has a reputation for not relishing detail and the steady slog. Attributes that he needs to develop.

          • IanCad

            Give me an ideas man any day. Leave the details to those possessed of such a mindset.

          • CliveM

            It all depends on the job they are being asked to do.

  • David

    Truly excellent Mrs Proudie, truly excellent !

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    If only the Austrians *would* restore the Hapsburgs!!

  • Inspector General

    Good Evening, Mrs Proudie

    An Inspector returns…

    Dusk Patrol of Pink News completed. Nothing to report. We can still call ourselves men and women (for the time being) but in doing so, we must always be appreciative that this may upset some rights activist who may be in earshot, and thus a hasty apology may in order to sooth hurt feelings…

    Pip! Pip!

    • IanCad

      Glad you got back safely. You tread where others fear to go.

  • Chefofsinners

    Bonsoir m’dear. This is a tonic for the travailed soul once again.
    Old Possum’s book of Impractical Cats comes to mind this week:
    Mrs Kitten Heels, pussyfooting around the Germans, incapable of staring into the eye of the Tiber, and coughing up a good deal more than hair balls every time Tusk twitches.
    Boris Johnson on the prowl, looking like the missing Lynx. And far, far away, there’s Cat Alan, asserting his independence.
    Surely it’s time to set the Rees-Moggy on them.

  • not a machine

    Thank you Mrs Proudie for that image of policing in an age of feeling good about be who you think you might be. Not much from here tonight reduced to a return consideration in that in my postbag and is a letter from Mr Oleilovermyfreedom from Catalonia addressed to a Dr Tanyatherapist it goes Dear Dr Tanyatherapist for some time I have been visiting my step uncle in Brussels who runs a get rich scheme for some clients, of course we used to love his and flatmates Harold Faultymire lavish entertainment and his long running board game in a huge game room which he calls cash for sovereign countries. He had been doing rather well the board game clearly showing those countries he controlled by his very jolly figurine scene of a person weakly holding there national flag in one hand and handing money to another figure with the other whilst this other figure seems to be urinating on the repressed figure. He was such fun Haroldfaultymire was always in the kitchen cooking something up new and next door were the somewhat unhappy Riechburgs family who took my step uncles advice so much it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Dr Tanyatherapist as you will know such driven success can result in problems and we fear our step uncle was in a binary spiral with Haroldfaultymire that has been abusing sovereign states and the dear Riechburgs has been where all the cash has been going. My poor step uncle is irritable and unreasonable saying absolutely no one must leave his get rich scheme and even though his forecast returns have troubled other countries for some time, poor Mr Grecian taxlassitude lost a fortune and now lives as is seen fit by there loan givers. It’s all frightfully Dr Tanyatherapist, I fear my relatives in Brussels may have been nothing more than abusers and extortioners right from when I was young in the 1970s and innocent to things which I now see as federal behaviours. Please Dr Tanyatherapist can you help me escape this terrible relationship. Yours Mr Oleilovermyfreedom

  • Manfarang

    Maybe a bit of Trad. Care for a jive?

  • IanCad

    As usual Mrs. P. A delightful chapter to let us, who are on the verge of despair with the current degeneration of our world, know that we are not alone.
    A discordant sentence though is noted – a conformation to the current zeitgeist of thin.
    Fats Domino was fat-fleshed and well-favoured and reached a grand old age for those of his culture. What – with all the shootings, drug dealings, gout and poverty – he demonstrated a vigour consistent with a more than adequate diet – a lesson for all who cleave to the falsity that being lean-fleshed and ill-favoured contributes to longevity.
    Eat more Hobnobs Madam.

    • Ray Sunshine

      “A grand old age for those of his culture”? He lived to be 89. I’d call that a grand old age in anybody’s culture.

      • IanCad

        Indeed so Ray. Given that Black Americans live on average seven years less than their white counterparts his plentiful diet and size must have contributed greatly to his lifespan. Very few blacks in the USA reach 100 years old. One remarkable black man by the name of Monroe Isadore, resident of Pine Bluff Arkansas reached the great age of 107 years and was then shot and killed by the local police.
        American cops are an utter disgrace to that great nation and need serious retraining.

  • TropicalAnglican

    We prayed for Brexit today! And quite earnestly for PM May as well. (In fact, I don’t remember any other political leader receiving a longer prayer than she did).
    Happy Reformation Sunday!
    Truly, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”.

  • Chris Bell

    The trouble is I rather like Mrs ole May. Confound these damned junkets over-stuffed with Bruxelles pate and bad wine. Let us move forthwith to all out war!!