Goodness! It may come as no surprise that The Jupiter has named Mr. Trump as ‘Man of the Year’. This has not gone down well with Archdeacon Grantly, who up until the last minute was in the running. The Archdeacon has no quarrel Mr. Trump politically – far from it – but feels the president-elect has done little for the good folk of Barsetshire, whereas the Archdeacon has treated us all to his opinions ad nauseam. One notes The Jupiter does not run a ‘Woman of the Year’ feature, despite constant lobbying from Signora Neroni. No matter. One would not allow one’s name to be put forward for such a thing unless it was entitled ‘Lady of the Year’. One has standards.
The Advent Ball at Gatherum Castle was a splendid affair and a hotbed of political gossip. The skill is to move discreetly from group to huddle keeping one’s ears open. One group of cheroot-puffing gentlemen were much animated by talk of a Tory rebellion against Mrs. Dismay. It seems there is an anti-populist cabal who believe they know what is best for the British public and are working their socks off to derail Brexit. Sir Abraham Haphazzard and Sir Omicron Pie expressed grave concern over Mrs. Dismay’s Snoopers’ Charter, which was passed in the House quite recently, and wondered if they would have to disclose everything about their respective clients. Everything, from letters, diaries, telegrams and those electronic thingummies that got Mrs. Hildabeast into so much trouble will be scrutinised and recorded. Nothing will be secret any more. Except, of course, for the things kept secret by the government, for this is a one-way street to perdition.
Archdeacon Grantly and Dean Trefoil expressed outrage at the Home Office decision to prevent the visit of three Syrian prelates and wondered, if our Lord had been born in the Royal Mews, whether the three kings would have been allowed to disembark at Dover (one feels Balthazar might have been strip-searched). Signora Neroni wept crocodile tears at the thought of the handsome Signor Renzi falling on his sword, only to perk up immediately when Mr. Slope pointed out that, with resignation postponed, there is time enough for her to carry on up the Tiber. News from the Ukrainian Front, where 150 gallant Tommy Atkins are manning the line against the Bolshevik Horde, was shared by Colonel Flashman of the 23rd Royal Mounted Gynaecologists, who reported the troops are tackling whatever is put in front of them with vim and vigour, mainly kapusniak, borsch and dumplings – the resultant flatulence being calculated to bring tears to the eyes of the bravest Cossack should they attempt a cross-border sortie. Mr. Slope was much taken with the Colonel’s hand-crafted sabretache, which admittedly hangs at a jaunty angle and swings majestically when he walks. At this point the orchestra struck up and I was swept onto the floor by my Lord the Bishop for a quick mazurka. Memories of this dazzling evening will stay with me for ever, like the never-quite-disappearing image of Mr. Blair’s cheesy grin.
We hear the dear Queen’s private lunch at The Goring was interrupted by a drunken intruder waving his arms about. How shocking, and how rude! As Mr. Slope says, ‘Every queen has the right to some privacy’, which is why he locks his door at night, but I’m sure once the Duke of Edinburgh has sobered up all will be well again.
One feels a political leader in this day and age needs a good surname to inspire their followers, something that sends a clear message, like Mrs. Ironheart, Mr.Valiant or Miss Winner. Congratulations, Mr. Nuttall, you have a tricky task ahead.
As for our Cathedral news, all I can say is we are very busy. Advent will soon give way to Christmas itself, which means the decorations must be replenished and thought given to our traditional carol service, though I am sure Mr. Harding has it well in-hand. We had trouble last year with the ‘Little Donkey’ but a bucket, spade and brush should guard against a repeat. The brasses are polished and the altar is dressed in the appropriate liturgical colour – a fine piece of needlework by dear Mrs. Quiverfull, done in her free time and helped by her husband, who was able to tie a knot in it.
Well, my dears, as the Advent Calendar of Time opens its window on the Chocolate Bar of Inevitability and the Sugar Mouse of Fabianism crawls up the Trouser Leg of Attenborough, ‘tis time to mount the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire. I shall sleep well tonight, knowing that you are all safe and well, and shall remember you all in my prayers.