While dreary old traditionalists were beating their breasts and covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes on the first day of Lent , others were finding a more socially relevant and consumer friendly way of ushering in the penitential season. Anglicans in Bedfordshire were delighted to see that, while their rapidly diminishing number of clergy were trudging round their multiple benefice rural outposts exhorting their folk to fasting and self examination their bishop, Johnny “Feel good” Richardson, was spending a sacrificial evening opening an art exhibition at a wine laden preview evening.

If this is what Ash-Wednesday is like, the good burghers of Bedford are asking, what can we expect for Holy week?


Before fuddy-duddy readers of this august organ reached for their goose quills to demand the disciplining of errant episcopi for liberalising Lent, they might like to know the whereabouts of the father of our Fathers in God on that same day.

Uncle George, for it is he, was hosting a gathering of ecclesiastical glitterati for……. yes, you’ve guessed it,….. a drinks party. A few cases of Lacryma Christi no doubt.


Readers of the Daily Sport – a journal dedicated to one non- Olympic sport in particular – were taken aback by a recent front-page photo. In a place of the usual thong strapped buttocks and mountainous mammaries was a full glorious close up of the inside of an old pie tin and the mammoth headline “Jesus Crust”.

Apparently, not to be outdone by the name of Allah appearing on a Muslims aubergine recently, the face of Jesus had mysteriously appeared at the bottom of a traditional English steak and kidney pie container.

As this miraculous epiphany did the round of the “C” and “D” tabloids, it must have occurred to Our Lord that something a little more tasteful was required to break into the quality papers.

And so it was that, lo, upon the plaster walls of that Great Northern shrine of Driffield Parish Church, a miraculous image of the Risen One did appear – and this time no pastry involved.

Jesus appearing in a church duly made copy for the broadsheets and the vicar, the Reverend Richard Carlill , a gentlemanly protestant with considerable catholic sympathies, has kept an open mind and, of course, an open church for the pilgrim bands.


At the recent spectacular farewell for Bishop John Gaisford in Wakefield Cathedral, ecumenism reached new heights. Father Beresford Skelton, much loved vicar of St Mary Magdalen Sunderland, was greeted effusively by an unknown worshipper. ( Skelton let it be said, has a beard of which any orthodox would be proud and the air and humour of an 18th century Hasidic master)

“How wonderful” enthused the anonymous fan “that I should live to see that the day that unity has come this far!”

Skelton, who may have been forgiven for wondering if this was a reference to the distant prospect of the eventual reunion of the Church of England, was rendered speechless and helpless by the concluding comment.

“How wonderful to see a rabbi receiving Communion!”


Over heard at the recent meeting of the General Synod:-

Clerical Enquirer: “What will happen to the remaining Church Commissioners money when their present pension liabilities come to an end?”
Senior C.C. member: “I can confidently predict there won’t be a penny it left in the pot.”
Clerical Enquirer: “What about those who haven’t retired yet?”
Senior C.C. Member: “Hard to say. Some of dioceses are already falling seriously behind on their contributions in the first two years.”

Pension prospects 2010+ ? Priests in the poor house or “on the parish”? Perhaps those who took the money and went had more than theological wisdom.


A middle aged and comfortably upholstered priestess was regaling a local meeting with her journey to priesthood in the hearing of one of our correspondents.

The lady, whose husband was a vicar, told of the moment that, for her, was the final straw and why she had had to go on to be ordained.

“I was due to take communion to a meeting of the Mothers Union. When I went to the cupboard (presumably the aumbry) I discovered it was empty!” (Think about it !)

I had to grab my husband, who was just going out, and get him to give me a quick service on his study desk! Can you think of anything more ludicrous?”

Indeed not ma’am. You just couldn’t make it up!


As the Church gears up to defend the rights of genuine asylum seekers and the government is increasingly overwhelmed by regiments of hoods ,bums and phonies seeking to make a living by hustling our city streets, an interesting question remains unanswered.

Mr. M. Fayed, owner of Harrods and Fulham Football Club, has once again failed to get a passport. In the recent libel case brought by Neil Hamilton the argument centred on whether or not Mr Fayed bribed a Member of Parliament.

If Hamilton was the right and Fayed did not bribe him then Mr Fayed’s alleged lies would have gone a long way to bringing down the last government. In which case some might think that Mr Fayed would be an undesirable alien. Mercifully the jurors realised that Mr Fayed was telling the truth and that he had indeed suborned a member of Her Majesty’s Government so…… he is not an undesirable alien after all.


Clergy seeking the ultimate status symbol have been beaten to it by the incumbent of one of the poorest parishes in St. Alban’s Diocese. The Revd. Ann Douglas’s new four wheel drive purple roadster proudly sports the personalised number plate VIICAR !

As her parish has been canvassing the diocese for half a million pounds for a new building, it must surely be just a matter of time before Mrs. Douglas offers this little vanity on the market as a personal sacrifice.