In the wake of September 11th Fleet Street has spared no effort to educate us, in line with government policy, on the truly pacific and very wonderful nature of Islam.

Late into the field, but not to be outgunned, was that great enthusiast for New Commonwealth immigration, The Daily Mail. A lavish centrefold introduced its readers to the history of the Prophet and his great achievements. This was accompanied by a splendid black and white drawing of this magnificent spiritual warrior.

Whoops! Islam utterly forbids such representations lest they should lead to idolatry! A grovelling apology duly appeared.

Earlier in the year their ridiculous and dated gossip columnist, Nigel Dempster, had casually suggested that Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and famous racehorse owner, placed bets on his horses.

Whoops! Gambling is forbidden by the Prophet and no practising Muslim will thank you for suggesting an occasional flutter. Apologies all round.

Stand by for the Mail’s , ‘NORTHERN ALLIANCE ON KABUL PUB CRAWL’ scoop !


In the aftermath of Frank White’s stellar rise from Archdeacon of Sunderland to Bishop of Brixworth, names are being canvassed for his old job. Our own correspondent and local boy, Arthur Middleton, was, unbeknown to him (until he reads it here), proposed by a leading diocesan layman. This is ironic because Middleton is known to think the post is one that could profitably be suspended. The lay proposer was surprised to be told by a diocesan dignitary that Middleton, even if suitable, was too old. Middleton is 65 and, at most, could serve for five years. ‘Well,’ rejoined the undaunted layman, ‘in that case he’d be able to do the job longer than his predecessor.’ White, a Carey curate, whose priestess wife was Director of Ordinands, only managed four years in the post.

The Bishop of Durham is 65.


Further to our earlier reports, the incredible shrinking Diocese of Bradford is beginning its search for a new bishop. To many of the people and clergy a wiser move would seem to be to suspend the appointment while investigating possible savings and restructuring by amalgamating with a larger neighbour. Clergy who have made this point in the ‘consultations’ have been told that they are ‘not allowed’ to say that, and no such proposal can be discussed until a new bishop has been appointed! As no bishop with the freehold is likely to vote himself out of existence, this simply means that no such discussion will take place.


Having narrowly failed to get women bishops in Australia, the liberals are employing the familiar tactic – vote until you win (and then no more votes).

Having failed to change the necessary canons to effect permissive female consecration, the lovely Muriel Porter is back in Melbourne barking up the diocesan autonomy tree.

This would effectively end up with a woman ‘bishop’ only being a ‘bishop’ in her own diocese but utterly invalid and unrecognized in other territories. If it goes through, it will, of course, evacuate the ‘episcopacy’ concerned of any scriptural, historic and catholic meaning. A new category looms – Locally Consecrated Ministry!


Hard on the heels of Uncle George’s long-awaited claim for the episcopal bus pass, Newsnight assembled an unlikely trinity to read the runes for the CofE. Tony Benn, for it was he, rolled his eyes and did his party piece on disestablishment. David Holloway wanted to talk about the gospel and was therefore of no help whatsoever in discerning the next Archbishop. Which left Elaine Storkey, regular spokesperson for the liberal Evangelical establishment.

In the absence of Jeremy Paxman (Anne Robinson without the charm) she was given a singularly easy ride. Holloway mumbled his assent to the present corruption as the least worst system. Benn wanted Blair out of the equation. Elaine, majoring in complacent benevolence, assured us that the selection would take place under a system newly reformed by a recent report. This can only be the Perry report. At the time of Elaine’s appearance the Perry report had not even reached the revision committee, never mind been passed and blessed by Synod. The truth is that the new Cantuar will emerge from the same discredited shambles as his predecessors.


An advertisement appeared in Jezebel’s Trumpet last month advertising the post of priest-in-charge of Tetbury and Beverston in Gloucester Diocese. Royal watchers will immediately appreciate that this modest little patch is, in fact, Charlie Windsor’s local ecclesiastical plant.

‘Resolution B passed by one vote in Beverston’ we were informed.

But why? Resolutions are either passed or they’re not. Pastorally speaking, it might be said to be a relevant piece of information. But the same argument would apply if resolutions had been rejected by one vote. Yet no such information appears in diocesan adverts. No prizes for guessing what the additional information is supposed to convey.

We look forward to more pastorally helpful advertising like, ‘Previous incumbent refused to allow parishioners to vote at all.’


Cutting edge Southwark Diocese invites its ministers to another UPA (Urban Priority Area) conference with a report on last year’s exciting menu ‘Changing Times – Blessing or Curse?’

There we were challenged to ‘Get involved – God wants us to!’, ‘Pray for identification with local people’, ‘Break down barriers’ etc etc.

Feelings and thoughts were spray painted on a 12ft by 10ft graffiti board.

‘Thank you’ and ‘God is with us’ decorated by a smiley face offset more puzzling contributions like ‘Depression’ and ‘All change at the Lav’.

The experience of change was acted out by ‘eight moving people sculptures’ and we were told, ‘Attitudes of older people to younger people must change’ with wicked new ideas like, ‘How about a young people’s PCC in your church?’

New Directions is seriously contemplating sending our own Fr Geoffrey Kirk for this much needed exercise in consciousness-raising.


Latest odds from the feminist turf accountants Lassbrokes are:-

4-7 Mr Rochester, 2-1 St Christopher, 5-1 Big Dick & Wee Jimmy, 7-1 Ragtime Mike & The Faull Girl, 8-1 Camilla Parker-Bowles & The Chief Rabbi, 10-1 The Late Aleister Crowley, 500-1 Johnny ‘Old Shag’ Broadhurst & The Caister Kid.