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We wouldn’t need a Minister for Loneliness if successive governments hadn’t destroyed the traditional family

It will soon be time for the Barchester Biennale Arts Festival, not quite as prestigious as the one in Venice but you don’t get your feet wet crossing the street. I have been invited to sit on the organising committee, and have promised to do my bit to drum up interest. I do hope you will all dig deep into your pockets and contribute to my ‘Preserve Diane Abbott in Formaldehyde as a monument to Post-Colonial Socialist Realism’ fund – provided Mr. Damien Hirst is willing to undertake the commission – half-price if we go for the slice down the middle option, giving us the opportunity of looking upon the inner workings of Marxism.

Our local artist, Mr. Quentin Cadmium-Daubs, is busy on a portrait of Mrs. Dismay done entirely in white feathers, and I’m sure Ms. Emin will delight us all by not turning up. The Impressionists are well-represented with works by Mr. Culshaw, Mr. McGowan and Miss Ancona, and we are promised an installation piece, a five storey drinks cabinet made entirely from Herr Juncker’s cast-off corks complete with rooftop wine lake. The Prince of Wales, well-known for his watercolours, has promised to display some unusual and provocative views of Cornwall, guaranteed to get Mr. Gompertz salivating. Do come… there will, of course, be hobnobs.

The Archdeacon was much taken with the story of the Bishop of Rome performing mid-air marriages, and thinks this is the sort of thing that would rekindle interest in the Church of England. I sometimes think nothing short of the Bishop of London recreating Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils at the High Altar of St. Paul’s would do that, but the nightmare soon passes. If only the Archbishop of Canterbury would consent to flapping his wings a bit and baptising children aloft, the crowds would surely flock. It would give a whole new – and practical – meaning to the terms ‘flying bishops’ and ‘High Church’! There could be ‘Railway Bishops’, fully-garbed and safely stowed in goods carriages, ever-ready to pull out at a convenient siding, and ‘Steamship Suffragans’ lurking in lifeboats for last-minute nuptials, and ‘Circus-tent curates’ wearing elasticated liturgical leotards intoning sacred vows on trapezes. I, on the other hand, believe such innovation should be avoided – it smacks too much of the smoke and mirrors favoured by Simon Magus and the go-ahead Bishop of Bevindon.

The Jupiter dutifully reports the meeting between M. ‘By Jove’ Macron and Mrs. Dismay at Sandhurst the other day, when she poured out lashings of ‘Entente Cordiale’ and he gave nothing away, apart from the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry. This he can do with equanimity, for the French President has already declared there is no such thing as French culture and therefore such objects hold little value for him. Mrs. May said little about modern British culture, which, considering this includes honour killings, street-side decapitations, terrorist attacks, child abuse, female genital mutilations, halal slaughtering, and Sharia Law, was wise. After all, M. Macron also declared those who cannot embrace Islam are traitors. The backwash of Empire has returned to bite us, whilst the government have surgically removed our own teeth so we cannot bite back.

One must congratulate Ms. Tracey Crouch on being appointed Minister for Loneliness by our oh-so caring prime minister desperate to find a human face to wear over the political one. It was one of the ideas bequeathed by the assassinated Ms. Cox, so it has the status of Holy Writ. One looks forward to the subsequent appointment of a Minister for Feeling Under the Weather, for Constipation and Piles and for Senior Moments. Of course, had successive governments not done all they could to break up the traditional family, make divorce easier and usher in the Brave New Dystopia we live in today, perhaps loneliness would not be quite so widespread as it is.

Londoners might well be a little perturbed listening to The Saracen’s latest utterance. “As good as some people think I am, I cannot solve knife crime by myself. Neither can the police.” Well, it didn’t used to be so much of a problem in the past, though London gangs have always been a violent lot, so perhaps ratepayers (or whatever they call them now) might consider whether they are getting good value for money. Perhaps also, someone might ask the question, is Mr. Mayor part of the problem, for he certainly isn’t the solution.

There is little crime in Barchester, I’m pleased to say, thanks to the vigilance of Inspector Catchem and his men. Of course, they have to watch Mustafa Fatwah and the goings-on at the ‘Does my Bomb Look Big in This’ Boutique and Halal Slaughterers, but things have been quiet there for some time. Perhaps we should be preparing ourselves for ‘the big one’, but thankfully I understand Ms. D. Abbott is currently fully booked.

One feels somewhat cheered by the news that President Trumpelstiltskin has snubbed Mrs. Dismay at Davos. It is a snub well-deserved, for our prime minister is determined to destroy good relations between Britain and the United States as part of her real strategy – to nobble Brexit. What with Mrs. Dismay and the Saracen whipping up anti-Trump frenzy amongst the perpetually angry brigade, who indeed would want to come to Blighty? As usual, the Archdeacon had much to say:

“That long-legged, short-bodied, neo-Marxist frump has the political touch of a Levantine leper and the leadership qualities of General Melchett’s waxed moustache. Recite the names of our prime ministers since Walpole and note the declension (archaic usage, but pertinent!). Mark my words, by the time this woman is finished, ‘Surrender’ will be our national motto!”

One should never watch a man when he is fulminating, so I gave him some wet-wipes and left him to it.

I went along to listen to Mr. Slope preach at the First Church of Transgendered Self Identification, one of those new-fangled American nonconformist jamborees where tongues are spoken and not served as part of a cold collation. I looked in vain for his text – ‘I am what I am’ – in my King James Bible, but couldn’t find it. Apparently, the Lord not only helps those who help themselves, but also those who don’t want to be themselves at all, preferring to covet their neighbour’s ass and other body parts. It was too much for me, so I went in search of Earl Grey and a decent cream tea.

So, my dears, it is time to put down my quill and think soothing thoughts. I am reading Dame Fragrant Starkers’ account of her recent expedition entitled, ‘The Back Passages of Samarkand’, which Mr. Slope is eager to borrow, so I must get a move on. I trust you all have a wonderful weekend of fun and frolics, remembering of course to say your prayers. It only remains to say, as the insoles of idiocy raise Mr. Macron to new heights and the mud slides of fake news smother the first shoots of populist awakening, farewell until next week.