Mrs Proudie Portrait
Meditation and Reflection

Mrs Proudie's Portrait of the Week: Welby, Whittingdale and the Holy Roman Empire

 

Mrs Proudie of Barchester has been graciously fellowshipping on this blog for the past six years. Her scintillating wit, eloquence, insight and originality are quite brilliant and far too good to restrict to the comment threads, so henceforth she will have her own weekly diary column – Mrs Proudie’s Portrait of the Week – pondering contemporary ‘events’ (dear boy) which concern her for one reason or another. This debut post is the fruit of a week’s toiling. We’ll see how this goes. Please be courteous and kind to her.

_____________

Goodness! Perhaps one should begin by saying ‘Many are called but few are chosen,” (Matthew 22:14) for that has indeed come to pass, thanks to His Grace (though I don’t think this makes me a Call Girl, not at my age). I am invited to gird myself with pen and sharpener, ink and parchment, and dash off a weekly missive – the world as viewed from Barchester. As my Lord the Bishop put it (and I agree with him) who am I to refuse the chance to be the Julie Burchill of Barset?

One feels deeply for poor Archbishop Welby this week, with family skeletons wheeled out of the closet for all to see. Does one ever know one’s father? Does one want to? It might console His (present) Grace to know he is not alone; fresh from the boulevards of Paris, Bertie Stanhope tells a saucy tale concerning President Hollandaise who, having read the pioneering works of the Abbé Mendel on frogs, is convinced he is the offspring of Napoleon Bonaparte. Hardly credible I know… but the continent is another country – they do things differently there. I digress. Archbishop Welby has handled his paternal revelations with dignity and grace, and those who cluck are but foolish virgins.

At Signora Vesey Neroni’s soiree last Saturday the hot topic was the EU – or as we in Barchester prefer to call it, the Holy Roman Empire. In, out, shake it all about. Dire warnings abound; if Britain leaves the sky will fall in, prices will rise, Burnham Wood will come to Dunsinane and nobody will want to speak to us ever again. Now the IMF have waded in we must be on our (La)garde! Signora N. is determined to remain (in Barchester, alas, as much as in Europe), whereas Archdeacon Grantly is for leaving. ‘Ignore the Cassandras,’ he roared above our prattling, ‘we are and have always been a trading nation! We can do it again!’ Such fun. One is grateful to Mr. Cameron for writing to each and every household setting out his case – without it the footman wouldn’t have been able to light the fire.

According to The Jupiter, the Prime Minister is in hot water over certain offshore investments and whether or not tax has been paid and declared. My Lord the Bishop thinks it manufactured outrage, complete stuff and nonsense and that no crime has been committed. I must say I agree. If one cannot trust a Bullingdon Clubber, whom can one trust? As the story unfolds it appears increasingly unwise for anyone to cast the first stone, least of all Comrade ‘Three income streams’ Corbyn of Her Majesty’s (Dis)Loyal Opposition. After 33 years in Parliament Comrade C. admits to having no savings – a true socialist, he can’t be trusted with his own money.

Signora Neroni, an avid reader of penny dreadfuls and other tawdry periodicals, has a fascination for footlights and greasepaint. At tea yesterday she asked for my thoughts on the sudden and unexplained death of David Gest, whose body was found in a room at Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, on Tuesday. Having had little to do with clowns or the big top, I confessed my mind was a blank. ‘Allora!’ exclaimed the Signora, ‘Mr. Gest was not a circus performer, Mrs. P. He was once married to that celebrated chanteuse and Queen of the demi-monde, Liza Minelli, and famous in his own right for shows such as Celebrity Big Brother. Scotland Yard is ‘on the case’. Of course I still had no idea, not being over familiar with the Italian community or indeed a devotee of the electrical magic lantern. I nevertheless expressed sympathy and confidence in Mr. Sherlock Holmes’ ability to sort things out. Well, no man is an island, and one death diminishes us all, so I shall say a silent prayer to St. Jude the Obscure and dispatch a box of hobnobs to the ex-widow.

One of Countess de Courcy’s daughters – Lady Augusta I think – is accompanying the royal tour of India as lady in waiting to HRH. Quite a wheeze using the photogenic Cambridges to prepare the way for re-establishing the Raj – wonder who thought of it? Some Foreign Office Camel Corp wallah no doubt. Lady Augusta reports the Prince is doing his bit to preserve wildlife by shooting it, thus following in the footsteps of his dear papa. But why traipse all that way to see the sub-continent when it has been progressively re-created in England’s dark, satanic mills, according to Mr. Trevor Phillips, the inventor of Islamophobia? He admits it’s all gone horribly wrong – how do you solve a problem like Sharia? Blessed are the penitents. I love a Damascene conversion, even at the eleventh hour, don’t you?

I must confess, dear readers, I am having palpitations and my bosom heaves with indignation! Whilst wet-wiping the gargoyles in the cloisters this morning, I overheard Mr. Slope and Mr. Bunce deep in conversation. To my horror, the former described me to the latter as a ‘dominatrix’! I have stopped Slope’s hobnob ration with immediate effect, and would like to reassure my readers that I have never met Culture Secretary Mr. John Wittingdale in any capacity, least of all with a whip.

Ah, listen… the Cathedral bells chime, time for Evensong, so for now dear hearts, adieu!

  • michaelkx

    well done madam well done

  • IanCad

    Allow me to be the second to congratulate you Mrs P.

    A cracking first essay.

    “–a true socialist, he can’t be trusted with his own money.” Beautiful!

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Why thank you gentlemen…too kind x

  • CliveM

    Witty and erudite…………..

  • sarky

    ‘How do you solve a problem like sharia?’……. genius.

    • Anton

      Yes, best line of many.

    • IanCad

      Am I missing something, or just dense and out of touch?

      • CliveM

        Your missing something!

        • IanCad

          Maybe I just don’t get out enough. I’ve read the pertinent paragraph several times and have to confess – I’m stumped!
          You are more charitable than Sarky.

          • CliveM

            Have you ever watched the sound of music?

          • IanCad

            No.

          • CliveM

            Get the DVD. There is a song in it and Mrs Proudie has made a clever play with the title.

          • William Lewis

            Mary Poppins? Same actress, different film.

          • dannybhoy

            Everybody’s more charitable than Sarks.. I think you’re pretending to be more culchured than the rest of us muppets..

          • IanCad

            I swear Danny, I have not a clue.

          • dannybhoy

            Oh here you go then..

            You should know Mrs Proudie was offered the part of Maria, but unfortunately she was tied up at the time..

          • IanCad

            Thanks Danny; that was delightful. The fog has now cleared.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Congratulations Mrs. Proudie for your insightful comments on the Holy Roman Empire and other current controversies! However I hope your new weekly epistle does not set too much of a precedent. While it might be entertaining if the Government Inspector were to afforded a similar opportunity an entire epistle from him would have even many of the male readers reaching for the smelling salts!

  • Anton

    Neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire…

    • Royinsouthwest

      Just like the EU then, although it does seem to have ambitions to be an empire.

  • William Lewis

    Brilliant.

  • HedgehogFive

    “How do you solve a problem like Sharia”?

    It is widely reported that the Prophet had a strong dislike of the sound of music.

    • Anton

      He is said to have liked cats (as do I, and Jack).

      • IanCad

        Not so keen on dogs though.

      • …. and the Inspector. Oh, and Len. He has nine. .

        • len

          Seven…(when I last counted)

    • dannybhoy

      An excellent line that!

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Oh dear. I have just imagined Julie Andrews “taking the veil”.

    • chiefofsinners

      There is a song of the same name on YouTube, which probably breaks every law on causing offence. Best avoided I’d say.

  • If Wiki is to be trusted, Signora Neroni, having been lamed by her Italian husband, is carried around the house on a sofa. One shouldn’t really giggle…

    May you go from strength to strength, Mrs Proudie.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Thank you so much, dear Johnny

  • len

    Good to see you back Mrs Proudie….
    A week is a long time in politics as Mr Cameron has found but I will be looking forward to your next ‘Portrait of the Week’.

  • Uncle Brian

    Dear, dear Mrs Proudie, you have been hiding your light under a bushel for far too long. His Grace is to be warmly congratulated on the new addition to his roster of preachers. Barchester lives!

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Dear, dear friends, you overwhelm me!

    • The Explorer

      That’s what dannbhoy was getting at.

      • dannybhoy

        Naughty, naughty boy!

  • dannybhoy

    Mrs Proudie,
    whilst we rejoice in your return to the fold, whispers abound as to what might have been ‘required’ of you in return for having your very own column…
    I trust your matronly virtue remains unsullied?

    • chiefofsinners

      You cad! How dare you impune the honour of Madame P?
      Whatever next, the sedes stercoraria?

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        A knight in shining prose…

        • chiefofsinners

          It has been observed that there is something of the knight about me.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s because a lot of your person remains safely hidden from the public’s discerning gaze…

          • chiefofsinners

            Yes, like the iceberg, nine tenths of the cos is below the surface.

          • Anton

            Are you Mr Howard?

          • chiefofsinners

            Ann? Is that you?

      • CliveM

        I’m prepared to act as your second if you feel the need to call him out, if an apology is not forthcoming.

        • chiefofsinners

          Sticks of rhubarb at 20 paces. We’ll make a nice crumble afterwards.

          • CliveM

            I thought blunderbuss.

          • CliveM

            However on second thoughts, rhubarb and ginger crumble would be nice.

          • chiefofsinners

            If one loads the blunderbusss with rhubarb and ginger then two birds might be killed with one stone, so to speak.
            Madame Proudie’s honour upheld and the derring Knights fortified with crumble. Men shall speak of us in hallowed terms and call it custard’s last stand.

          • CliveM

            LOL, brilliant.

          • dannybhoy

            Echoed..

          • William Lewis

            Nice. A rumble with a crumble.

          • CliveM

            Inspired!

          • William Lewis

            I thank you!

        • dannybhoy

          Turncoat!
          May your coat tails for ever drag in the mud and your brainstarver collar do what it says on the wrapping..

          • CliveM

            Pulls glove off hand and uses it to slap both your cheeks.

            Cad, where is your apology!

          • dannybhoy

            ? ermm….ees treeck question?
            You’re supposed to be my pal. Supposed to have my back and so on.
            I mean how many times have I stuck up for you, when others had turned against you?
            You shouldn’t be supporting cos.
            He’s a wet lettuce at the best of times.

          • chiefofsinners

            You have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

      • dannybhoy

        Steady
        The poor woman will flush with embarrassment..

      • bluedog

        Never heard of it before but wiki advises, “Duos habet et bene pendentes”. Intriguing. Could be taken number of ways, both above and below the belt.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Good heavens!

      • dannybhoy

        I had your very best (ahem) interests at heart dear lady..

      • As the Culture Secretary said to his date when she revealed her … er … hidden talents.

    • William Lewis

      Goodness dannybhoy! Just because you’ve had your gluttonous eye on Mrs. P.’s well-turned buns for sometime now, doesn’t mean that you have to sully the good lady (and HG no less!) with your base appetites!

  • Dave Illing

    One looks forward to more feminine insights. And we’ll done Your Grace for encouraging this modern addition to your webdom.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Wonderful stuff Mrs Proudie. A little relief, as Mr Whittingdale would say, from the daily grind. I would be glad to have Mr Slopes ration of hobnobs rather than letting them go to waste.

  • C Law

    Dear Mrs P,

    Great first column, but I must take issue on one point: ” Does one ever know one’s father?” I know mine and am proud and humbled to have done so, I wish I could be as good a man as he was.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Then you are blessed, dear C Law…

      • chiefofsinners

        I believe he is the son of the redoubtable OH Law and the ever-entertaining LA Law.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Naughty…but chuckle-worthy!

        • His father was Canon Law.

          • Anton

            Then he is is a son of a gun.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’ve enjoyed many an evening with his sister

            http://www.cyclopsbeer.co.uk/beer.asp?beer_id=6021

          • C Law

            That looks like a beer I would enjoy, but a beer as my sister ??!
            I think my real sisters would be underwhelmed with the comparison

          • C Law

            Wikipaedia says “The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Webster’s Dictionary both define “son of a gun” in American English as an euphemism for son of a bitch.[1][2] Encarta Dictionary defines the term in a different way as someone “affectionately or kindly regarded.” ”
            I do hope you are using the Encarta.

          • Anton

            Encarta is politically correct but it happens to agree with the usage I intended !

          • C Law

            On the contrary, I’m the cannon – a rather loose one!

        • C Law

          I don’t get the reference to OH Law, so I don’t know whether to be glad or sad! I never did find LA Law to be entertaining, rather too full of itself, really.

          • chiefofsinners

            ‘Oh law’ is an expression of trepidatory anticipation. One might use it when LA law comes on the old one-eyed Satan.

      • C Law

        You are so right, Mrs P

  • Goodness. Fame for Mrs Proudie. Well done dear lady on your first gossip column and one looks forward to future revelations. One question. Does this mean the Archbishop will receive favourable hobnob treatment?

    • dannybhoy

      Don’t you start!
      I’m already in deep doo doo..

      • chiefofsinners

        You are unusually perceptive this evening.

        • dannybhoy

          :0)

      • William Lewis

        Jack is fairly familiar with the doo doo.

        • A dim and distant memory, William.

          • chiefofsinners

            Yes, but until recently Mrs Proudie’s buns were dim and distant mammaries. See how pertinent they are now!

    • chiefofsinners

      Care must be taken. This is a tender plant. ‘Tis but a step from gossip column to agony aunt. “Dear Mrs P, one of my buns is larger than the other…”
      If the communicants here start giving it all that, seeking wisdom at her skirts and so-forth, the poor damsel will quickly be overwhelmed.

      • And what an agony aunt she would be. With a hobnob in one hand and a bun in the other, one would share any problem.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Don’t forget my baps…

          • Pubcrawler

            Who could?

          • Happy Jack would prefer to share a discreet roll with you, Mrs P. What fillings take your fancy?

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I dispense my hobnobs willy nilly…all shall have prizes!

      • … And your buns?

        • chiefofsinners

          For shame, Brother Jack, restrain yourself I implore you.

          • These are innocent enquiries, CoS. Jack simply wants to ensure Mrs P remains free to dispense her hobnobs and buns as she chooses.

          • carl jacobs

            … Innocent …

            That was a bald-faced untruth.

          • **gasp**

  • David

    Congratulations Mrs Proudie on your elevation to the commentariat – well deserved I am sure !
    Indeed I look forward with eager anticipation to your regular column packed with wit and piercing insights.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Why thank you David !

  • So, onto a more serious matter. Did the Culture Secretary ….

    • Anton

      Mrs Proudie couldn’t possibly comment…

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        One’s lips are sealed…

        • Pubcrawler

          Wax?

        • Whisper your answer. Jack will tell no one.

    • chiefofsinners

      You are a very naughty boy and now you are going to be punished…

      • ……. as the escort said to the Culture Secretary.

  • Findaráto

    Mildly amusing stuff!

    Tell me though, if up until approximately the reign of Margaret The Terrible the word “hobnob” only existed as a verb, what nefarious light does this cast upon Mrs Proudie’s restriction of Mr Slope’s “hobnob ration”?

    Are we to understand that she has the poor man confined in a solitary prison of indeterminate location? Dominatrix indeed! There’s clearly more going on under that crinoline than meets the eye.

    • chiefofsinners

      Prying beneath the crinoline again? Careful not to infringe your restraining order.

      • Allosexuel

        E is jellus and will rip ‘er crinoline off givin ‘alf a chance.

        • Pubcrawler

          You need to take him in hand, then.

    • William Lewis

      Mildly amusing stuff!

      Goodness! This is high praise indeed. Mrs Proudie is already building bridges with her first column!

    • Allosexuel

      Mon a mei, ze ‘obnob smuggler.

      • Pubcrawler

        I’m only eating plain ones from now on.

    • HedgehogFive

      According to the Ever-Expanding Fount of General Knowledge:

      HobNobs is the brand name of a commercial biscuit inspired by the traditional hobnob biscuit recipe.

      So does your lack of knowledge on this matter indicate that are you from one of those parallel universe things that physicists keep coming up with? The spelling of your screen name also lends weight to this hypothesis.

      • Anton

        Not this physicist. That stuff is speculation – a caveat omitted by popular science journalists whose editors want to sell their copy.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      And a mildly amusing response….

      • Findaráto

        Glad to know I succeeded in pitching it at your level. But I shan’t be doing so very often. Faux Victorian archness and milksop innuendo are hardly worth the effort it takes to write them. All that work just to raise a faint smile! One wonders why you bother.

        • Anton

          “And also with you.”

        • chiefofsinners

          Steady, Findy. Jealousy is an ugly thing.

    • The Explorer

      I can vouch for what’s under the crinoline. They don’t call me The Explorer for nothing.

      • chiefofsinners

        They’ll call you the ex-plorer if Mr Proudie gets wind of this.
        My research suggests that under the crinoline there is whale bone.

  • bockerglory

    Dear Mrs Proudie, “Does one ever know who your father is?” I am a mother and when using the “face swap” app on my daughter’s mobile phone I realised my children look nothing like me. What’s happened! The tribulations of being female mean I can’t blame the husband for this (or can I?). My mother-in-law assures me that “genes” skip a generation and my grandchildren will be my dopple-gangers (however this is spelt). My husband says I have weak genes hence the spelling glitches.

    Your views on this matter would be much appreciated.

    Yours kindly,

    Confused

    • Maxine Schell

      ”spelt” isn’t found in my on line dictionary. Is it British, or a misspelling?

      • Pubcrawler

        You need a better dictionary.

        http://grammarist.com/spelling/spelled-spelt/

        • Anton

          “We’re going to need a bigger dictionary.”

      • dannybhoy

        Technically it’s English. British as a language doesn’t exist.
        Except perhaps in the minds of some foreigners…
        …and Americans.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Well thank you all for you many kindnesses. I have to prepare myself for a festive junket at Gatherum Castle this weekend so until next week!

    • sarky

      Trollope!

  • Owl

    Mrs P.
    It was a joy to read your missive of the week. I am looking forward to your next one but, in the meantime, please keep an eye out for that Slope fellah. I have my doubts about that one.