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Barchester will not be recruiting any ‘alternative’ folk into Holy Orders this year

Lawks a-mercy!

There was quite a kerfuffle outside Barchester Assizes the other day, one which is having repercussions over the whole county. Inside the courtroom, nine non-indigenous ‘shepherds’ were standing trial, charged with grooming sheep (they may have been Welsh, or from Patagonia). I was completely perplexed by this as I would have though any self-respecting shepherd would want to brush and comb his charges so that they looked their best, but Mr. Bunce the Woolcarder took me aside and explained what had actually gone on.  Goodness! Is there no end to the bestiality of mankind? Outside, Farmer Robby Thompson, owner of the said flock, was ringing his bell and telling all and sundry the intimate complexities of the case, when along came Inspector Cuffem and Sergeant Knapweed to arrest him. Apparently, the duty magistrate imposed a ‘No-Reporting Order’ on the legal proceedings, and Farmer Thompson was accused of perverting the cause of justice. Well, if there was any perverting being done I suggest the law looks no further than the nine offenders inside, making sure to disinfect their boots afterwards.

There have been riots in Silverbridge and Stoke Pingum targeting village constables and local magistrates, and one mob attempted to scale the railings around Gatherum Castle, all in protest at the good farmer’s incarceration. It is a sad state of affairs when a decent, patriotic Englishmen is arrested for speaking his mind, but this is not allowed in Mrs. Dismay’s dystopia.

Bring back Mr. Disraeli, I say!

I am starting a petition to secure the poor man’s release. I do hope you will all sign it.  Failing that, I shall bake him a special hobnob with a nail file hidden inside. Every little helps.

By the by, this case has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with events outside Leeds Crown Court.

Nothing.

Honestly.

On behalf of my Lord the Bishop I would like to give notice to the prelates in Lichfield that the diocese of Barchester will not be recruiting any ‘alternative’ folk into Holy Orders this year, or any year for that matter. It is one progressive fad too many, though not going as far as the Swedish Archbishopess who wanted churches to provide space for the Religion that May Not Be Named, removing crosses into the bargain in case they caused offence. Increasingly the Church sees its mission as reaching out to minorities of all shapes and sizes in the name of diversity and equality, yet it seems oblivious to the legions of disgusted ordinary folk who are slipping away by the back door, never to return.

One can recognise the nature of a scorpion and even seek to accommodate it, but at the end of the day it is still a scorpion and it will sting you.

Having just packed their bags and bought tickets, the Stanhopes suddenly cancelled plans to relocate to Lake Como, which rather surprised us. However, Mrs. Stanhope explained the recent presidential skulduggery in Italy has the potential of turning nasty, and Mr. Stanhope fears the worst. The president’s IMF shoo-in has, it seems, declined the honour of moving into the Palazzo Chigi and so an election is on the cards. I would not be surprised to find the people’s anger being expressed in terms of an increased majority for La Lega and those cheeky Five-Star chappies (whom I believe once won ‘Britain’s Got Talent’). Signora Neroni is particularly animated on the subject:

“It’s the Risorgimento all over again! All those handsome, swarthy Italians taking to the streets and demanding justice and the impeachment of the old Eurocrat in the Quirinale! How romantic! How dashing, how Garibaldistic!”

She is a creature much swayed by emotion.

And gondoliers.

And vino.

But then the wheel of fortune turns, and this very morning I learn that Signor Conte is forming a coalition government and all is well.

The Archdeacon had much to say (as usual when matters distasteful hit the headlines) on affairs in Ireland.

“It appears the Irish have taken up Dean Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ somewhat belatedly, though having mostly turned to quinoa and haloumi they don’t want to eat babies, just abort them in the womb. Of course, there are those who do not recognise a foetus as a baby or pre-born human being, which salves consciences and clears the mind for the next series of ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’, which is to comedy what Jack Straw was to integrity. As this will almost certainly be embraced enthusiastically by the indigenous colleens, it can only be seen as another step in the grand design of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi.”

“But Archdeacon,” I ventured, “one must also remember those poor women seeking ‘Planned Parenthood solutions’ are most likely in a state of some distress and emotional turmoil – it cannot be an easy decision to make.”

“Hah! It seems easier than buying a condom in the first place, doesn’t it!” he snorted.

“Oh, Archdeacon!” I exclaimed, but he was already heading towards the Bridge Chapel of St. Flotsum-o’er-the-Water to put the fear of God into the perpetual curate therein.

Perhaps somebody could explain why so much fuss was being made about Russian interference in our General Election (not proven but oft stated) when the Dark Lord Soros can pour millions into a campaign to overturn Brexit and not receive so much as a ‘tut-tut’ from the powers that be? Even the fragrant Caribbeanite Gina Miller seems disenchanted with all the shenanigans going on.

To lighter matters, for ‘tis the season of open air concerts and the like, and Mr. Slope has kindly bought tickets for a gala performance of ‘Tannhauser’ in the grounds of Courcy Castle. He’s very excited about seeing Wagner’s Ring, as one can well imagine. I’m rather partial to a bit of leitmotif myself, so I daresay the foot will be tapping as the music takes hold. I do recommend these delightful summer excursions, just as long as you take along sufficient Macintosh squares to cover the cowpats.

Goodness, is that the time? I must dash, for a bishop’s wife can never rest upon her bustle, what with curates to dust and organs to polish… or something along those lines. May the gadfly of hope over expectation pass safely o’er the frog pond of Brexit reality and the corset buttons of authoritarianism pop open from being force-fed a hearty meal of populism. Until next week, I bid you all a fond adieu.