Goodness! How busy I have been this week, helping my Lord the Bishop put together the shortlist for the Barchester Awards, when the cathedral recognises the good works of those living within England’s fairest county, Barset, and those further afield who have contributed towards our religious and cultural life. Here is a list of the main recipients:
The Bishop Counterblast Prize for Calvinistic Ranting goes to Archdeacon Grantly.
The Bishop Snoope Award for Confessional Eavesdropping goes to Mr. Slope.
The Venerable Arthur Spasm Award for Preaching to the Converted goes to Mr. John McDonnell.
The Sede Vacante Award goes to Comrade Corbynov in recognition of never having visited Barset and hopefully never will.
There will of course be a splendid cream tea afterwards in the 14th-century Great Hall of The Palace, where I shall distribute hobnobs and pearls of wisdom. Such larks!
Meanwhile war drums are beating across the land. Mrs. Dismay decided to throw in the full complement of our brave British armed forces (one platoon of raw recruits, two rowing boats and a kite) to teach nasty Mr. Assad a jolly good lesson. We can’t have just anybody throwing chemical weaponry about, and just because we make the bally stuff ourselves doesn’t mean to say we would ever use it, oh dear me no… never… perish the thought. The thing is, once again, assumptions are being made on the back of emotive pictures – dying babies on the electric magic lantern bring unacceptable horror into our very drawing rooms (though Planned Parenthood go about the killing business without so much as a murmur from the general public, and those who keep vigil outside the Murder Houses are shortly to be banned from doing so – but I digress).
Was Mr. Assad the guilty party? The Archdeacon doesn’t think so:
“Mark my words, dear lady, there’s more to this than meets the eye. I wouldn’t put it past the retreating rebels to pull a stunt like this simply to grab world attention and provoke a Western response. Life is cheap out amongst the sand dunes, as General Gordon found out. How can we trust the secret service wallahs and the mealy-mouthed denizens of Downing Street when we have been lied to time and time again? Weapons of mass destruction my arse!”
“Really, Archdeacon… that is too much! Please don’t bring the language of Cuddesdon here!”
“Apologies dear lady, apologies… but the world is on the verge of annihilation and the fate of mankind is in the hands of numpties.”
As indeed is the Church of England.
Alas these are grave times, dear friends. I can only offer prayers for the poor people living through unimaginable circumstances and hope that a peaceful solution may be found soon.
As the country prepared for a war it really didn’t want, I joined Signora Neroni and the De Courcy girls at Barchester Town Hall where volunteers had gathered to knit balaclavas. There’s nothing Tommy Atkins likes more than a parcel of woollies to remind him of home. Our soldiers used to fight for Queen and Country – I don’t think the new rallying cry of ‘For Diversity and Equality’ has the same ring to it.
The Jupiter reports that the Muslim World League wants Europe to increase its efforts to integrate Muslims and to tackle religious hate speech. This snippet set the Archdeacon rolling about the aisles laughing his head off.
“Don’t you find that amusing, Mrs. Proudie?” he asked, smoothing the wrinkles from his cassock.
“Indeed so, indeed so,” he chortled, “for it is a splendid example of the pot calling the kettle black. What sort of welcome do these fellows give to Christians in their desert kingdoms and caliphates? Carry a bible in your luggage and they’d chop your fingers off as soon as look at you. As for tackling religious hate speech, why, there’s lots of it between the covers of their holy book – banning that would be a good place to start!”
“I don’t think that is quite what they meant, Archdeacon, and book banning is what liberals do.”
“No, I suppose not,” he said, looking momentarily crestfallen.
With that he turned on his heel and disappeared into the side chapel of St. Anne of Widdecombe, where the Mother’s Union were holding their annual ‘Save a Copt for Easter’ fund raiser.
Mr. Slope is all of a tizzy, having just learned he has been turned down for the post of chaplain to The National Trust and English Heritage on the grounds that he is hideously white. Opportunities in both organisations are now only open to minorities – another initiative being promoted by this faux-Tory government. Being well-acquainted with the back passages of several country piles and an enthusiastic lover of Grinling Gibbons, he thought he stood a good chance, but no. He should have made it clear that he self-identified with the Maasai and that he was transitioning, but both the moment and the opportunity passed him by.
So, as the steam-powered threshing machine of positive discrimination sorts out the ethnic wheat from the white chaff and the spinning jenny of disinformation obfuscates the warp and weft of the nation, I bid you adieu for this week.