Meditation and Reflection

Mrs Proudie: armoured clergy, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and a muddled Pope


Goodness! I am always telling Mr. Slope to take precautions, for one never knows what is lurking around the corner. News of the dreadful event at St.-Etienne de Rouvray arrived by post chaise the other evening, and immediately raised the spectre of an attack on one or more of our own parish churches here in Barset. Indeed, the savages have warned Britain is next! Fortunately, the Bishop and I have a solution. We have raided The Palace Armoury and distributed the suits of armour, helmets, gorgets, gauntlets and wot-not to diocesan clergy with an episcopal dispensation to slap on a coat of liturgical colours and wear the said outfit for all future services.

Mr. Slope has reservations and thinks this strikes a ‘Crusader’ tone, but I think it eminently sensible. I asked him to drive me to some of the local parishes to see what measures are being taken to enhance security. At Hogglestock Mr. Quiverful has placed a gatling gun in the clerestory and has shown one of his numerous brood to use it. A tad zealous perhaps, but impressive. At Crabtree Canonicorum parishioners have joined in a splendid example of community action by digging a moat around the entire village. The incumbent at Puddingdale has trained his choir boys in the Eastern Art of Ninja (he was an oriental scholar at Fu Manchu College, Oxbridge), and at Framley the drive to the parsonage has been mined. Of course, the Cathedral has the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch tucked away amongst the relics, so we are more than ready (and just in case any of His Grace’s communicants are aghast at my approval of relics, let me just say I am much Broader than I was!) Who now says the Church Militant is moribund?

Politics is a grubby business – perhaps that’s why Comrade Corbynski blends in so well? At least he’s got the Trots behind him… (nasty in the extreme-but bananas are wonderfully binding, I believe), which must be comforting. Diane Abbott, too, has been a splendid support, lending a hand in all sorts of ways. One does so hope he wins the leadership election – he is the gift that keeps on giving. John Bold, however, thinks Corbyn is wonderful, and thoroughly approves of Labour’s programme of radical reform. Well, he would, but until he develops common sense he is persona non grata at The Palace.

I have come to the conclusion Brexit is like Godot. We wait, but nothing happens. I suspects plots, deals and conniving behind the scenes. Mustafa Fatwah from the High Street Curry House and High Grade Weapons Emporium has been telling customers he doesn’t understand the result at all – he for one voted many, many times, as did his extensive extended family. Mr. Bunce was fiddling with his Nan at the time and overheard the conversation. Naturally he came straight to me.

“This is electoral fraud, Mrs. Proudie. Do you think we should report it?”

“Waste of time and effort, Bunce,” I replied, “Constable Napweed works all the hours God sends tracking down hate-crime telegrams and green-ink letter writers.”

At Gatherum Castle the other evening, the Bishop and I were honoured guests at the ducal table. His Grace, who was once Colonel of the Queen’s Own Mounted Diversity Hussars, posed the question: “When is a war not a war?”

This had us baffled for a while, until the penny dropped.

“Why, Your Grace, when the Pope says it isn’t!”

He is infallible, or so they say. Not that we in the Church of England recognise such nonsense as papal infallibility. It seems to me this Pope is rather muddled, but then he is Hispanic and they are often animated by colour and movement.

Well now, dear things, the hands on the Cathedral clock are pointing at Tiffin Time, and I have a freshly-baked batch of hobnobs waiting, along with Earl Grey and some iced fancies (one has to ring the changes now and then). I have invited the ladies from Greshambury to join me, so I should be able to glean quite a few snippets to share later. Lady Arabella has been to the Democratic Convention and has seen the Hildabeast break the glass ceiling, not to mention every moral code known to man. Adieu, until the next time my dears!