Jean Mayland, doyenne of Anglican ‘wimmin’, left her keys in the door of her car before a recent dinner in York. Archdeacon George Austin rescued them and held them up to her. ‘What must I do to get them back?’ she asked, coquettishly. ‘Ah, now I was coming to that,’ he replied. ‘All you have to do is to stand up at the dinner tonight and declare that you are against the ordination of women.’ Alas, she felt in her handbag and produced a spare set.


Peter Tatchell got a pulpit of his own – without having to evict a tiresome Archbishop first – in Leeds last month. As part of the Rainbow Weekend, All Hallows new vicar, Reverend Ray Gaston, invited the legendary homosexual campaigner to address the congregation. ‘His is a voice which must be heard’, said Ray. ‘Many of us are embarrassed by church homophobia’. A diocesan spokesman denied Mr Tatchell was being allowed to preach. ‘He is going to speak during the service and, for this, the bishop’s permission has been obtained.’ The Bishop of Ripon is new.

Peter Tatchell is a ‘classic Christ-type figure ‘, according to Dunprayin’ Dick, former Bishop of Edinburgh.


A copy of Winchester Way, the diocesan newspaper, has arrived on ‘30 Days’ desk, courtesy of a Whitchurch well-wisher. It is packed with news of an exciting three-day visit by Uncle George to the ancient see.

Under the banner headline, ‘Winchester is successful, says Carey’, we are treated to several pages of enthusiastic scribbling exhorting us to ‘change’. Phrases like ‘adventurous new leadership’, ‘adaptation’, ‘embrace change’, ‘be more flexible’ bubble forth on every page. And, as George reminds us,

‘During the last 10 years we have had a lot of changes to confront in women priests and financial changes. We have prevailed and I’m sure we shall do so on the current pension actuarial review.’

He even, so the Winchester Way faithfully reports, ‘welcomed changes in church attendance’. That must have gone down well.


Out of a highly talented short list, the Church of Ireland Theological College has chosen a new Principal. Step forward Adrian Empey, former Treasurer, Chancellor and Precentor of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

By any extraordinary coincidence Adrian’s older brother, Walton Empey, happens to be Archbishop of Dublin. What a talented family.


An interesting approach to stewardship was revealed in the High Court recently by Canon Lionel Webber, Rector of Basildon since 1979.

Owing nearly £1 million for a glass bell tower, Webber admitted writing cheques he knew would bounce. ‘Sometimes’, he lamented, ‘I suppose I hoped money would just drop out of the sky.’ This touching fundamentalist theology is reminiscent of the cargo cults and, increasingly, the Church of England Pensions Fund.


Paul Handley, august editor of Jezebel’s Trumpet (the Church Times), was featured in the Guardian Media Supplement last month. He confessed to a splendid secret vice. He reads New Directions which he generously described as ‘a marvellous traditionalist rant’.

The Guardian went on to note that his newspaper had just caused profound shock by using the ‘F’ word. (for readers of the Church of England Newspaper this is not ‘Father’). The editor of New Directions was able to thank Paul for the free publicity and point out that we had, in a profound academic piece by Fr Gardom, crossed that verbal Rubicon in July 1996.

With our new colour printing it must now be a race between us to see who will be the first with a centrefold ‘PRIEST PET OF THE MONTH’.

Watch this space!


When Newcastle United season-ticket holder Glyn Evans became the new vicar of town centre church St Andrew’s, Tyketown, he proposed imaginative outreach. Pack the pews with jovial Geordies singing subtly adapted choruses. ‘To Bob be the Glory’, ‘Score Shearer Score’ and ‘All Things Black and White’ were among his soccer singalongs.

Sadly for ‘Evans the Mission’ some miserable old stick-in-the-muds put the boot in and, after a pastoral intervention by ‘Clogger’ Wharton, the mass/match is now off.

Who knows, in due course, we could have celebrated the Nativity with ‘Howay to the Rangers’, and the great communion hymn ‘Up for the Cup’.

Sadly, one chorus ‘Robson’s Remnants’ will not be singing this year is ‘On the Victory Side’.


‘Changing Attitudes’ – the lucky lottery winner of £120,000 recently – is already winning key souls for its rather specialized gospel. A charity dedicated to changing whatever may be the Church of England’s mind on homosexual practice, it claims no less than twelve bishops as its patrons!

Writing from its HQ, in the appropriately named ‘Lavender Gardens’, it produces a ‘Bi-Monthly Newsletter’.

Would-be members in St Alban’s Diocese were thrilled to receive the information, in their diocesan mailing, that they now have a Diocesan Group which can be contacted, inter alia, via the Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility! One of their patrons is the newly retired, former evangelical Bishop of Hertford, Robin Smith.


Iain Duncan-Smith and Ken ‘the Bloke’ Clarke could be ready for No 10 sooner than we imagine. ‘Fresh Fire Conference’, a branch of ‘ Rejoice New Life Ministries ‘, is offering ‘Governmental Anointing ‘ at its summer meeting. Keynote speakers have apparently enjoyed ‘specific breakthroughs’ in knowledge, health, authority to name but three. With Education, Health and Law & Order being tagged as the key issues on the doorstep last time the entire Tory Party could do worse than attend.

Pastors Avis Dalrymple and Winnie Mcleod will be among those waiting to welcome prospective world leaders to sit at the feet of Bishop Tudor Bismark (no relation) – the modestly entitled ‘Apostle to the Nations’.