Goodness! My Lord the Bishop and I attended the Black Hole of Calcutta Memorial Service in the Cathedral on Sunday, as is our custom. It was an unusually warm day for September if you recall, and as we left to meet up with our coachman outside, my Lord overheated and would have collapsed had it not been for a flurry of curates rushing to hold him up. They managed to bundle him into the barouche, but not before several reporters from The Jupiter took photographs – we await the next edition with trepidation. I have let it be known that my Lord has pneumonia, but having taken a good draught of Daffy’s Elixir he is as right as rain, after only 48 hours, too. However, I hear a whisper that the Privy Council are meeting to discuss replacing my Lord with another in time for the Feast of St. Hillary of Benghazi in November… and Mr. Slope’s name has been mentioned. I have taken to my chambers with a copy of Machiavelli and am devising a counter-stratagem. Any advice welcome.
One so looks forward to those ‘Eustace Diamonds’ every week – an opportunity for Memento Mori I always think – but of late the little gems and bon mots have lost their cyanide-sparkle. So very tiresome, but then absinthe does eat away at the insides after years of self-abuse. However, the very fact that polemics continue to be posted is an indication that one is an irritant, a grain of sand in the Gallic oyster, and that brings immense satisfaction. It may not be Christian – as no doubt one shall be told – but, by golly, it’s invigorating.
There’s more cast-iron in my crinoline frame than in our former Prime Minister, who, having promised to stay on after Brexit, and then as an MP, has changed his mind. Messrs. Gladstone and Disraeli took turn and turn-about at Number 10 for years, neither contemplating the Chiltern Hundreds when cast into the Slough of Despond that is opposition. True, both retained the leadership of their respective parties, which Mr. C. has not… but again, that was his decision. The Archdeacon is not impressed, and is often heard after evensong berating the quality and probity of the political establishment in fluent Anglo-Saxon… none of which can be found in Beowulf.
Such a fuss over the Great British Bake Off! I have written to the ‘Powers that Beeb’ offering to host the next series in the Palace grounds, provided one of the competition rounds involves baking the best hobnobs. There is no end of volunteers who would like to take part: Mr. Bunce (of Hiram’s Hospital) is keen to share his Scratchings, though Mustafa Fatwah objects to standing anywhere near pork; Signora Neroni has a recipe for Pane Puttanesca (no surprise there) and Mr. Slope has been dabbling in fancies. Of course, it should be renamed the Great Barchester Bake Off… I think it would go down a treat, and we could do with the £25 million.
The Jupiter reports Mr. Verhuffenpuff, a former Prime Minister of Belgium no less and now a Satrap of the Holy Zollverein, has been saying some nasty things about Brexit. ‘Rats leaving a sinking ship’ is how this gallant little Belgian describes Messrs. Cameron and Farage, but at least he acknowledges the ship is indeed sinking. Mr. V. is to be the chief negotiator in the coming Brexit negotiations, which means we need someone who can outflank him – another Schlieffen Plan perhaps? I think the Archdeacon would be just that man! He can out-bluster a blusterer, shout down a ranter and outwit the witless… and if he is ruled out because of Holy Orders, my portmanteau can be packed and ready in an instant.
Did anyone else see that photograph of Mr. Tatchell waving a banner which read, ‘Moslems Repent of Your Homophobia’? No, neither did I.
I must leave you for now, dear friends. I promised to beeswax the lectern steps in the Chantry Chapel of St. Mendacious the Appeaser in time for the Sunday ’Kumbaya’ lecture: ‘It will all be OK, really… just sing happy clappy songs’, to be given by Bishop Spacely-Trellis. I have concealed a basket of past-the-sell-by-date loaves and fishes behind the euphonium and will be exercising my tennis elbow with gusto. Until next week dear things, adieu!