Goodness! It’s not often my Lord the Bishop stirs himself after supper and several snifters, but something in The Jupiter caused him to sit bolt upright, and it wasn’t the daguerreotype of the Singing Nun on page three. It seems there’s trouble in Bohemia, or whatever they call it nowadays, and the Zollverein based in Brussels-am-Berlin don’t approve. The Czech President, mindful of the utter shambles going on in France and Germany, has advised his citizens to arm themselves in case of excessive cultural-enriching throat-slitting or spontaneous self-detonation. In his view, a government should place its trust in its people. How refreshing, and how unlike our own dear politicians who don’t trust us an inch.
They say laws are for the little people, and so is the British Empire Medal. Not many of those dished out in Mr. Cameldung’s Resignation Honours List. An OBE for his wife’s dresser (shades of Mistress Masham) and an MBE for someone who cuts his toenails. The biggest hoot of all is the Companion of Honour awarded to the Draper, who is as familiar with this noble concept as Attila the Hun was with lentils. We have seen this sort of thing before: Mr. Pitt was renowned for dishing out peerages to all and sundry, and Mr. Disraeli accepted a viscountcy for his wife, who did little but warm his bed at night – not that he was in it much. One wonders if ‘Call me Dave’ will accept a title? Might I suggest Earl of Castironbridge? It has a certain ring to it; a just reward for all the clangers he’s dropped.
I do love summer. Croquet on the lawn, punting on the river and honey for tea. Alas, this idyll is ruined every four years by the Great Corruptathon of the Olympics which dominates conversation and completely takes over the electrical magic lantern. All that money spent on opening and closing ceremonies where colour and movement and Carmen Miranda lookalikes pulverise good taste and elevate kitsch. Have they thrown Mr. Septic Bladder in the Clink yet? Not everyone in Barchester thinks as I do (hard to believe I know). Mr. Slope, an enthusiastic Olympics camp follower, has applied for the position of chaplain to the Men’s Swimming Team, though I can’t imagine those hearties have much time left after training to spend down on their knees. Mr. Slope is more than prepared to scatter his seed on stony ground, but believes he will win converts. That may or may not be so, but one can only admire his desire to evangelise even in locker rooms, swimming pools and Jacuzzis – muscular Christianity in action.
Signora Neroni often makes mountains out of molehills (quite successfully too, thanks to Mr. Worth’s wonderful wired and uplifting corsetry) but on this occasion her indignation was justified. Her Parisian correspondent, attending mass at St. Rita’s Church the other day, was shocked when armed riot police entered and forcibly dragged the priest out of the building (which is scheduled to be turned into a car park). Imagine what would happen if that had been a mosque and the priest an imam – the banlieus would be burning (more so than usual). The Signora asked how the French authorities could be so brutal, so insensitive, so crass?
“They are French, dear,” I replied, thinking once again of the fate of poor Louis Philippe. Enough said.
Outside my window the Town Crier is announcing a terrorist knife attack in Russell Square. Sadly there is a fatality and many injuries. These are trying times, and we must all try to keep our spirits high. Gird your loins with the codpiece of fortitude, strap on the bustier of righteousness and don the helmet of endurance. When all else fails, call upon the Good Lord to do a bit of smiting. He moves in mysterious ways… as does Mr. Slope! May St. Jude the Obscure guide you always… Adieu for now.