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“As the lamplighter of time snuffs out the candle of Christian Europe..”

Goodness! Amidst the carols, baubles and festive frolics, the Grim Reaper has been knocking on the door of Tinsel Town and gathering them in. Actors, songbirds and laudanum-takers have been falling off their perches in droves, and one hears weeping and wailing across the land. Well, not so much in Barchester, where mourning is a private affair and virtue-signalling unknown. We pray for lost souls, of course, and that is as it should be, and for the good health of the Dear Queen, who has been somewhat indisposed over the Christmas season. One hopes it wasn’t an excess of ouzo in the trifle.

Old customs prevail in Barset, as I’m sure you are all well-aware, and this includes open-ballots at election time. The enfranchised turn up in person and cast their votes before the assembled populace. It gets raucous and rumbustious ‘tis true, with many a black eye and broken bones along the way, but there can be no doubt who has voted, and for whom. The proposal to insist on passport identification at the hustings is a sound modern alternative, and the objections of the Newtfinder-General absurd, if not blatantly partisan. Politicians are always driven to ‘climb the Greasy Pole’, as is Mr. Slope, but that is another story entirely.

Having read of the Children’s Crusade in history books, it startled me to discover a similar venture is being planned over in Germany. Some two thousand or so communists, socialists and anarchists pledged themselves to march all the way from Berlin to Aleppo waving white flags, hoping to bring the enemy to its senses. Perhaps we should name it ‘The Zombies’ Crusade’. To my mind these do-gooders have completely lost theirs. What they have failed to grasp is that the white flag is a symbol of surrender, not peace, and that the foe they are hoping to deal with simply wants all infidels dead. I fear I cannot wish these Merkeloids luck, but I do pray they meet sanity before the scimitar.

Archdeacon Grantly, fresh from a personal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, gave a magic lantern talk on the Dome of the Rock the other evening. He reports there is great consternation over there concerning recent statements by President O’Barmey, who seems to think Judaea and Samaria should belong to the Palestinians. He managed to whip himself up into a lather.

“What nonsense!” he roared, “What does O’Barmey know of the Levant? Any fool reading the Bible can see that Judaea and Samaria are the historic homelands of the Jewish people! Just because at some point along the way a bunch of Moloch-worshipping nomads wandered in with hundreds of wives and ‘Goat-u-Like’ fast-food outlets doesn’t make it less so. Why, imagine what would happen if a similar tribe of non-indigenous folk decided to walk into England demanding every accommodation and, in a few years, claim it as their own!”

The Archdeacon has never visited Dewsbury.

At least Dewsbury is not yet as bad as Afghanistan, where it is said a woman was beheaded for the serious crime of going shopping without her husband. It was the talk of Signora Neroni’s coffee morning. One is outraged, but not so our home-grown band of bustle-burning Feministas, who remain strangely silent on this issue, as they do on many other ‘Voldemortian’ practices. Not a peep from Ms. Greer or Ms. Toynbee or that ghastly gamin, Laura Penny. I do hope my Lord the Bishop does not hear of this. After my last visit to Mr. Worth’s Emporium to buy a selection of winter outfits, he might get ideas.

A shorter piece than usual, dear friends, but I must marshal the old gentlemen of Hiram’s Hospital for a new charitable task: we are going to probe the back passages of Barchester, seeking out poor, homeless folk and distribute asbestos blankets, just in case any wandering migrants decide to set them on fire, as has been reported in Germany. It is a new version of St. Lucia, a festival abandoned by Swedes but taken up (with a cultural twist) by certain ‘New Europeans’. So, as the Lamplighter of Time snuffs out the Candle of Christian Europe, and the Snapping Jaw of Political Correctness devours the vol-au-vents of Liberty and Common Sense, I don the Bonnet of Benevolence and the Shawl of Sympathy and set about my work. Not every woman walking the streets after sunset is a Lady of the Night, please remember that.

Happy New Year to you all.