Heavens! A somewhat shorter missive this week, due to a whole vat of nonsense bubbling up on the home front. Not quite as much as behind the scenes on Strictly Come Ed Ballsup, where flouncing off is not just a Young man’s game; nor indeed in the party calling itself UKIP, for the Woolfe is no longer on the threshold of power and all is in disarray. I do think the dancing programme would benefit from a few clerical participants however. We could have Anglicans gliding serenely in the Viennese Waltz (but which partner would lead, I wonder?); Roman Catholics hot-stepping it in the Latin section, and the Orthodox brigade performing Zorba’s Dance. I’m sure the Dissenters could find something to do, such as disapprove. Instead of the ‘Dance-off’ we could have the ‘Head-off’, giving the not-to-be-named denomination a chance to practise their ethnic medieval skills… But I digress.
Autumn has descended on Barchester. The trees are turning and the Cathedral Close is blanketed with fallen leaves of every shade. Speaking of the fallen, my Lord the Bishop and I attended Signora Vesey Neroni’s soirée last Saturday evening, when the cream of Barset society gathered together in all their finery. The Signora was so rouged and powdered I thought for a moment one of those sinister clowns had invaded the company. The Duke of Omnium, who keeps his ear close to the ground in the House of Lords (a strange hobby, but his own), whispered confidentially that Number 10 is going to scupper Brexit by allowing Parliament to vote on Mrs. Dismay’s negotiations with Brussels. This comes as no surprise, as government has a track-record of ignoring the wishes of the people. Bertie Stanhope, fresh from a visit to the United States, had much to say about the dirty tricks employed by Clintonites to get their woman elected, including rent-a-mob unstables paid to disrupt the opposition and engage in fisticuffs – but only when the cameras are rolling. Mrs. Quiverful twittered on about Planned Parenthood to the young ladies present, not that she’s practised it herself. The Bishop, Archdeacon and Mr. Harding seated themselves in an alcove with brandy and cheroots to bemoan the rapid decline in church attendance, the cause of which was no mystery to the Archdeacon:
“No wonder people are turning away when all they get from the pulpit is Transubgenderisation, Trotskyite relativism and the Gospel of St. Camille Paglia. They are repelled by Church Miliband vicars and ‘ISIS wants me for a martyr’ do-goodery. Even Archbishops find it impossible to communicate theology and resort to fudging. Time we got back to basics, and not in a John Major sense!”
There was much nodding at this, but alas I fear Barchester is somewhat out of step with modern thinking. We have only just come to terms with the Reformation, after all.
However, the Cathedral is determined to do its bit, despite Archdeacon Grantly’s reservations, and so yesterday we welcomed our first consignment of ‘refugee children’. It was wonderful to see their happy, smiling, bearded faces as they leapt off the train, scimitars flashing in the autumn sunlight. Before one could say a word they scampered through the ‘Refugees are Welcome’ crowd stealing handbags and pocket-watches and demanding to know where the nearest kindergarten was – so keen to make new friends! We have converted the attic of The Palace into a dormitory bedroom for the little dears, though the cots we provided are too small for these healthy lads, and feel confident that they will settle into Barsetshire life in a day or two. Mustafa Fatwah has kindly offered to take them under his wing and train them up ‘…to ensure Barchester is enriched’. So kind, so very kind.
And there I must leave it, dear friends. I trust, dear Bluedog, that the clickbait factor is not quite so high this week – or perhaps you meant ‘Clicky-ba’, for these days I seldom go abroad without it. I am expected down at St. Cunigunde-by-the-Garderobe this afternoon to admonish the churchwardens over the state of their churchyard – you can pick up all sorts of detritus there according to Mr. Slope. One must be as watchful and as vigilant as the Abbess of Crewe. Adieu…