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‘What sort of incense are they using at Canterbury these days, and has Plod not arrested their supplier?’

Goodness! Lambeth has gone completely loopy!

“I have a dream,” said Cantuar the other day. I was all agog – I mean, we all have funny dreams about hippos driving handsome cabs down Pall Mall, don’t we? – so I couldn’t wait to read on. Imagine my horror when it turned out His Grace thought the Zollverein was the best thing since the Roman Empire, that Herr Juncker was the physical reincarnation of Nero (fiddle, fiddle, fiddle), the guarantor of peace and harmony since the Hundred Years War, and the Human Rights superpower leading the world down the Yellow Brick Road to Diversity Utopia and equality for all. What sort of incense are they using at Canterbury these days, and has Plod not arrested their supplier? Really, this is too much – but I suppose he needed a break from rainbow-flagging the liturgy and perfecting the Ceremony of Transgenderisation for the second Sunday in Rogationtide when the knives are out.

I for one will not rogate – and we will say nothing of Beating the Bounds lest Mr. Slope gets beside himself again. He always manages to mishear the final ‘s’.

But what is this? Now we hear that the Archbishop said no such thing! Perhaps he was misheard, or misquoted, or as Alice’s Humpty Dumpty explained:

“When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Not that one could describe His Grace as ‘master’ of the Anglican Communion. Goodness no.

But His Grace continued to touch upon matters secular later in the week, calling for higher taxes to save the Health Service, which is buckling under the weight of mass immigration and an influx of never-before-found-in-Blighty diseases. I am only surprised he hasn’t called for the restoration of First Fruits (plenty of those amongst the clergy already) and Peter’s Pence. Why not start tithing the general populace while we are at it? I for one pay enough in taxes, thank you very much, and I feel disinclined to continue supporting Ethiopian Girl Power Dance Bands and Lesbian Jig-a-jig sword swallowers in Malawi – not to mention the entire House of Lords now the hereditaries have been replaced by Blair’s lot. The NHS is a money pit. It wastes cash and resources on an industrial scale. It is reorganised more often than Signora Neroni changes her bloomers, only to reorganise again when some new bright spark takes over at Westmonster (NB when I use the phrase ‘bright spark’ please do not assume I include Mr. Hunt in that description).

I hear on the grapevine that Barchester Town Council has been approached by a certain philanthropic Hungarian wishing to build a brand-new university here. It seems this fellow has become persona non grata in his homeland and has to get out rather sharpish for wanting to abolish national borders and invite Africa in for an extended holiday. Our knife-crime ignoring Mayor, Mustafa Fatwah, is all in favour – no doubt he sees this as a way to make oodles of cash and at the same time facilitate the transit of fellow religionists to make our cathedral city more ‘diverse’. Mr. Fatwah came calling at the Palace yesterday hoping to gain my Lord the Bishop’s approval, telling him ‘it was the Christian thing to do’. Call me old fashioned, but I suspect what he actually meant was ‘it was the Christian thing to do to seek martyrdom’. Well, I won’t have it – not in Barchester at least – so as usual I intervened and put the mayor in his place with the point of my shoe.

The Archdeacon had a face as long as a wet weekend in Bognor Regis when I came across him on Friday morning. We were attending a foundation-stone laying ceremony at what will be the Church of St. Europhobe the Great, serving our small Greek Orthodox Community, at the invitation of Archimandrite Stavros Paynotaxus, who runs a kebab shop on Chipfat Alley.

“You look rather glum, Archdeacon, is anything wrong?” I enquired.

“Yes, indeed there is,” he snorted, “That blasted woman in Downing Street has managed to fend off a potential coup over her dreadfully inept handling of Brexit. A chocolate teapot would be of more use than Mrs. Dismay, whose approach to negotiation is akin to a lapdog rolling over until its tummy is tickled. It was rumoured Mr. Davis, exasperated by the woman’s ever-shifting position on borders and markets, was going to throw in the towel and open a B&B in Chipping Sodbury, but she managed to persuade him otherwise. How she does it is a mystery – through Kaa-like hypnosis I shouldn’t wonder.”

(Mr. Kipling creates exceedingly good characters).

“But Archdeacon, if Mrs. Dismay falls, we may end up with Comrade Corbynov and his swivel-eyed brigade. As soon as that McDonnell chap gets the keys to the Treasury I predict a run on the banks – he will not get his hands on my doubloons.”

“Nor mine, dear lady, nor mine.”

His face suddenly brightened and a smile spread from ear to ear.

“There is of course one bright spot in the week,” he said. “The new US Ambassador to Germany is stirring things up nicely, criticising the disastrous Merkelwilkommen policy of the government and expressing the need to support conservative movements across the continent. Howls of protest from the gutmenschen on the Left, which is always a sign the nail has been hit firmly on the head.”

Can they arrest an ambassador for hate speech? I am sure they will try.

Signora Neroni is currently enamoured of Mr. Rees-Mogg. They have never met, but she devours every morsel of news about him and has commissioned Landseer to paint the fellow’s portrait, which hangs in a corner of her boudoir.

“You are wasting your time, Signora,” I told her, “the man is married.”

“I know,” she replied with that brazen hussy look, the one that Lady Nugee gives when offered a lift in a white van.

“But he is so virile,” she continued, blushing redder than Michael Gove’s bottom after a night at Madame Spanky’s.

“Ah yes, well, with six children I suppose he is,” I conceded.

I don’t know whether or not Mr. Rees-Mogg is prime ministerial material, but it would be nice to have children running around Number 10. Our present European leaders are childless, and one feels they have no real stake in the future, hence the relentless pursuit of policies that can only result in the end of Western civilization as we know it. A man or woman with children thinks in the long-term.

Well my dears, having ensured my Lord the Bishop will not be promoted to St. Augustine’s Chair or indeed inherit the bongo drums of Bishopthorpe, I will take my leave. This afternoon I am supervising the distribution of the ‘Hugo de Comfort Dole’ of cucumbers to 24 needy widows (established circa 1308) which always turns into a rugby scrum. Until the opium den of progressive politics is raided by the Keystone Cops of switched-on populism and the laxative of awareness flushes out the effluent lies and obfuscation of BBC propaganda, I bid you all adieu.