Oh, the frolics and the joy! Snow has blanketed Barchester for the past week, and local children have made the most of it. Snowmen abound on every street corner, and even in the Cathedral Cloister we have a snow-bishop, closely modelled on my dear other half. As dawn breaks, we are woken by the trundling of carts winding their way through the cobbled streets collecting frozen paupers, and the Old Woolcarders of Hiram’s Hospital are even now manning my Soup Kitchen and Hot Hob-Nob Stall on the High Street, supervised by Mr. Slope who likes to bring succour to all, demonstrating the Balaclava Spirit and urging everyone to pull together.
Scotland has been particularly affected by the snow, and a ‘Red Warning’ has been given out. Some would say this was too little too late, for this was needed the moment Ms. Krankie got into Holyrood.
However, there has been what I can only describe as ‘a sinister development’ which I fear may concern us all. I was accosted by Mr. Plantemdeep, the Cathedral Sexton, who asked to have a discreet word. He alerted me to the fact that two graves have been disturbed and the occupants removed, a sure sign that body-snatchers were abroad.
“That’s just the thing, Mrs. Proudie, I don’t think Burke and Hare have anything to do with it. As you know, my little house overlooks the graveyard, and my wife happened to look out sometime after midnight on Tuesday (she couldn’t sleep on account of the prunes, you see) and what she saw terrified her!”
“Do go on Mr. Plantemdeep,” I said, all agog.
“Well, my Dorcas said she saw the bodies rise up from the earth under their own steam, as it were, their boney arms pushing away the soil and then slowly scrambling out. The walking dead, Mrs. Proudie – zombies, here in Barchester! Last seen heading down the London Road. Wherever could they have gone, and what sort of foul mischief are they up to?”
That question was only answered when I saw, on the front page of The Jupiter, that Blair and Major had once again crawled Cassandra-like to the podium to rant against Brexit and warn of civil war if Brexit goes ahead. Mr. Blair needs reburial at a crossroads with a stake through the heart. As for Mr. Fifty Shades of Grey, any man who dips his soldier into the runny yolk of Eggwina Currie is best ignored.
The Archdeacon raised quite a few eyebrows at Evensong yesterday when he appeared in the choir stalls wearing a pith helmet on top of his canonicals and brandishing a Waterloo sabre.
“We are at war with the Zollverein, dear lady,” he whispered in between verses of Psalm 150, “They are planning to annex Ulster and must be stopped at all costs! They have seen a green hill far away without a city wall – obviously not Londonderry – and want to plant their blue duster on it. We must stop them! We must dust off the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! Unfortunately, Mrs. Dismay seems to be unaware of the fact, and is, in her dealings with the Hunnofranks, as much use as a one-legged parlour maid in a bustle-kicking contest.”
“Perhaps ‘war’ is a little too strong, Archdeacon,” I said, ‘After all, fighting has not broken out, despite Mr. Blair’s ghoulish warnings.”
“Gibraltar will be next, once those bull-baiting castanet-jiggling Armada-esque garlicos in Madrid smell blood, you mark my words! Time to singe the King of Spain’s beard once more.”
At this point the choir reached a crescendo and the rest of the Archdeacon’s rant was inaudible. I busied myself with the Book of Common Prayer, reading Cranmer’s wise words: ‘Hearken not unto the blithering idiot on your right hand, for his mouth is full of codswallop and his mind befuddled by the piles.’
I must say I’ve come to the conclusion that our present Cantuar is a bit of an ecclesiastical push-me-pull-you. One minute he tells us all to embrace the newcomers and adapt to their ways, and then says Shariah law is incompatible with Britishness (which it is). It’s all very well driving willy-nilly down the via media, but at some point the juggernaut of ‘Oh for God’s sake, get a grip!’ comes roaring towards one.
Thankfully we have a highway code.
It is called The Bible.
One cannot possibly sign off this week without mentioning our very own Bolshevik revolutionary (no, not Bishop Pete Broadbent) – I mean of course Comrade Corbynov, who not only ploughs his own furrow but that of Ms. Abbott as well. Being completely at one with the horny-handed sons of toil (i.e. city analysts, computer programmers and assorted millennials) he has appointed a Frankenstein construct as adviser on LGBGTQWERTY affairs (though I would never have guessed he was planning one!). Munroe Burgerdorf, who once was this but now is that, thinks white people were ‘specially conditioned to be racist’, that ‘racism comes from white culture’, and that Western culture favours white people over any others. She believes the suffragettes were racists too, as they did not include black women – they didn’t have many working-class women either, but why spoil a good invective? I suspect she’s unaware that Islamic culture favours Muslims, Japanese culture favours the Japanese and, oh, let’s think, Bantu culture favours… Bantus. But I digress. Corbynov can sure pick ‘em. Whether this charming example of 21st-century narcissistic gender-bending insanity will win the hearts and minds of the working men’s clubs is moot. One suspects not, and can only rejoice that Corbynov is digging his grave deeper. I will send Mr. Plantemdeep to offer structural guidance.
And there I must leave it for this week, dear friends. I am joining Lady Arabella Gresham and Countess de Courcy at the annual Greshambury ‘Boil a Baptist in Balsamic’ Festival (see Barset Good Food Guide, 1863) followed by a picnic at the Small House at Allington as guests of the Dales (she keeps a diary and is ‘…rather worried about Jim.’ (Do keep up). So, as the incontinence of gender fluidity dribbles down the inside leg of traditional masculinity and the cocktail sausages of global warming are squeezed between the whole-meal bread buns of scientific disputation, I will bid you all adieu.
A very special thank you to Marie, who knows why. May your hobnobs be ever tasty… xx