“We traditionalists have kept our finger in the dyke for long enough…”

Goodness! There has been so much rain over the last few days that Barchester has almost become an island, cut off from the rest of humanity. We discovered the Palace roof is not as water-tight as we thought, and in the long gallery all one can hear are noisy drips… but enough of Mr. Slope and his fellow curates.

There seems to have been plenty of leaks coming out of the White House, with the new communications wallah, Mr. Scaramouche, threatening retribution left, right and centre. Quite right – one can do without tittle-tattle when there are bigger lies to spin and sell to the public. This morning, according to The Jupiter, we learn the Senate has rejected the bill bringing Trump-U-Like-Care into being, which must be a terrible disappointment for the President. One vote was all it took to bring this defeat about – the vote of Senator John McCain, the inventor of the oven chip which I believe are known in the United States as ‘Freedom Fries’. It also appears Mr. Trumpet’s administration is riddled with double-agents and saboteurs, men who remain secretly loyal to the Hildabeast and all her works, ready to plunge the dagger deep into the rhino-hide of The Donald as soon as the Ides of March come round. Perhaps we should send Jeremy Hunt to Washington, not so much to help out as to be rid.

But what of the poor, huddled masses without access to medication? I mentioned my concern to Dr. Thorne when he came back from providing outdoor relief. Well, someone has to do it, and he does look fetching in his gabardine mac and bicycle-clips.

“Let nature take its course, Madam,” he replied, which seemed a little harsh.

“As it did in Ireland when the potatoes failed, doctor?” I replied, thinking once again of Senator McCain.

“Ah, but that’s the beauty of population replacement,” he said enthusiastically. “When one crop fails, simply re-seed. This policy is being currently pursued with vigour by several Western governments, with considerable success.”

Indeed it is.

The Lobster Quadrille that is Brexit seems to be out of step with the rest of the country. Here in Barchester the mood is best summed up as ‘For heaven’s sake, get on with it!’. That Mr. Hammond-Organ is a slippery fish, like the rest of the basket (which, of course, rots from the head) is common knowledge. The Archdeacon, as usual, has much to say.

“Why is it that politicians make much of ‘listening’ when it is a small, and often bizarre minority doing the shouting, and then dismiss the wishes of the country in a referendum? Who the dickens are these self-identifying poseurs hell bent on pulling civilisation down into the mire with their gender-fluidity, quinoa face-masks and dungaree-wearing lifestyles? Having said that, why give the vote to the Common Man when he thinks Comrade Corbynov is the answer to his prayers?”

“I think it is called democracy, Archdeacon.”  It was a foolhardy intervention.

“Democracy?” he thundered. “It is no such thing, Madam! It is the tail wagging the dog, the carriage pulling the horse. And as for the tongue-twisted oil-slick chancers who wheedle their way into Westmonster in order to climb the greasy pole and sell their souls to Mrs. Merkel for a mess of pottage and the negatives of their lost weekend in Hamburg, fie on them I say… fie!”

There’s no reasoning with him when he is in a temper, so I made my way to the tiny medieval church of St. Schismatica and All Souls on Ganderbody Lane, where Mr. Slope was preaching to the Barchester Society of the Friends of the Prayer Book on the subject of unity. It was not going well. It was inadvisable of Mr. Slope to advocate ‘embracing the rainbow of modernity’ to such a gathering, and positively suicidal when he called them ‘antediluvian homophobes of the first order’ for not ‘getting with the programme’. Shouts of heresy came from the congregation as hymnals and kneelers began flying.

“We must all come together,” cried the hapless Slope as a strategically propelled statuette of St. Esther of the Childline whizzed past his left ear.

“You filthy beast!” yelled Mrs. Quiverfull, whom I spotted on the second pew from the front. Mr. Slope, realising all was lost, hastily retreated to the vestry and bolted the door.

Lessons have indeed been learned. Anglicanism seems destined not to reconcile the Ancient and the Modern. Something has to give.

My Lord the Bishop looked sad when I reported back to him.

“I fear you are right, my dear. We traditionalists have kept our finger in the dyke for long enough, and her waters have finally broken. Do we go with the flow towards the waterfall of apostasy or board the Ark of Sanity and sail in the opposite direction?”

“All one needs to do is to consult one’s moral compass,” I replied.

“Do we still have one?” asked my Lord.

“I think Gordon Brown ran off with it.”

So, as the parrot of political correctness called Justine Greening asks the immortal question, “Where’s the soap?”, and the doyen of fake news Piers Morgan replies, “Yes it does, doesn’t it!”, I must bid you adieu. Until next time, dear hearts…