Goodness! The last thing one expects when attending a concert is rabble-rousing, but that is exactly what was on the programme when my Lord the Bishop and I attended the Duke of Omnium’s annual extravaganza in the grounds of Gatherum Castle this week. As usual, the Barchester String Quartet promised us an evening of Schubert, Vivaldi and Mozart, and the cream of Barchester society was there. The first piece, from the ‘Trout Quintet’, passed without incident, but as the applause died down, a thin, wispy-bearded figure in worker’s cap leapt onto the stage.
“Brothers and Sisters, the time has come to march in solidarity against austerity! A new dawn is… well… dawning, and… erm… we need to call time on those evil and dastardly Tories! The future belongs to the young, and so I call upon all you young persons out there, regardless of gender, to join our Big Bolshevik Breakfast in London next Tuesday, when we shall fortify ourselves with a lentil and quinoa pottage de jour before storming the gates of Number Ten and defenestrating the sycophantic lackeys of capitalist imperialism. Comrades, who is with me?”
After a moment or two, His Grace the Duke rose to his feet.
“My dear fellow, you seem to be at the wrong concert – perhaps if you had turned right instead of left… Glastonbury is that way.”
“Oh, right-o guv’nr, I’ll be off then.”
And with that he scuttled away, followed by a tall, foxy-faced fellow wearing an ‘Uncle Joe’ tee-shirt, and a large dusky woman gibbering something about police numbers and how to pay for them whilst shaking an abacus like a tambourine.
I asked my Lord the Bishop who the gangly fellow was.
“Not sure, my dear, but I don’t think it was the Bishop of Bath and Wells.”
How wonderful it is to have an emperor back in France. One would, of course, prefer an Orléans, but these are troubled times and one takes what one can get. Emmanuel I summoned French parliamentarians to Versailles this week and announced he would rule like Jupiter, aloof and dignified, providing France with lashings of gloire and not so much of the liberté. Well, he is no Bonaparte, to be sure, but we will wait and see what he does with his whiff of grape juice. It is said he cancelled the traditional Bastille Day meeting with journalists because his thoughts were ‘too complex’ for them to understand. Quite right – French kings had enough trouble with the Third Estate let alone the Fourth. Like Napoleon, this new emperor married an older woman, but later divorced her for a German-speaking Austrian – looks like Frau Merkin is in with a chance then.
I must report, dear friends, a most disturbing conversation I had on Thursday morning. Mr. Bunce, from Hiram’s Hospital, came to see me, insisting it was a matter of the greatest delicacy. I received him in my Lord’s study, offered him tea and told him I was all ears.
“Well, Ma’am, it’s like this. I was talking to yon bishop’s chaplain the other day and happened to remark, when he asked how I was, that I wasn’t feeling myself. He said he quite understood, and that there were many people like me who felt unhappy in their own bodies. He said, thanks to medical breakthroughs, I could transform myself into a woman ‘on the parish’ so to speak, and that I could even have a womb transplant too, if I wanted one. Well. Ma’am, I don’t know what to do about it – I can’t say I’ve ever had feelings in the crinoline direction, but I dursen’t contradict a learned man like Mr. Slope. Perhaps you could put him straight?”
A challenge indeed.
Poor Bunce. Wait till I see Mr. Slope. We shall have words.
My Lord the Bishop decided against attending Synod this year on account of the rampant sexuality going on there. It has turned into quite a bacchanalia, with every conceivable perversion discussed ad infinitum. No mention of persecuted Christians across the globe. In seeking to be relevant to the modern world, the Church of England is less relevant to Christianity – some would say edging closer to the heresies of the Middle Ages with their ‘Holy Spirit of Common Sense’ and what not. We Britons used to prefer hot water bottles to carnal lust, not to mention cold baths to cool the ardour, (but that was before the Book of Common Prayer was replaced by the Book of Common Purpose). Now it is all out in the open and nobody feels the slightest embarrassment. As for the heretic who prays Prince George will grow up to be a friend of Dorothy, shame on him. A speedy recantation would be advisable lest he finds himself surrounded by faggots of the combustible kind.
Ah well, as the trouser press of experience smooths out the creases in the pantaloons of hope, and the harpoon of Truth skewers the barnacled-Teflon-hide of Moby Blair, I shall bid you adieu before skipping off to the Mechanics Institute to hear a Mr. Soros speak on the theme of ‘If I ruled the world…’. Such a mad, impetuous dreamer. Adieu, dear friend, adieu.