GEMS FROM THE CREM I
Thanks to the eternal vigilance of our Crematorium Correspondent and the enthusiastic co-operation of death industry operatives, 30 Days is in a position to share with you some recent exemplars of pastoral practice and excellent taste.
1) Bob’s coffin entered the chapel to the upbeat rendering of Blue Moon, the one which uses as a musical link the male vocalist roaring, ‘BOOM, BANG, A DING A DANG DANG DANG!’
The rather nervous close-cropped lady officiant was disarmingly brief in her theological analysis and her summary of Bob’s biography. This latter amounted to a mere five lines, courtship, marriage and family life being summarised thus, ‘He met Sandra in the pictures when she asked Bob for a light. Children followed quickly.’ What a memorable afternoon in the cinema that must have been.
2) Musical bad taste of the month award is to be shared between the relatives of a well-heeled old codger who waved his coffin farewell to the strains of ‘We’re in the money!’ and the next of kin of a disappointed and jazz-loving 58 year-old spinster who closed the curtains to a throbbing rendition of You’re too easy!
EVERY NIGHT JOSEPHINE?
Those who recall Napoleon’s practice of keeping the Bible and the Koran on his ‘political’ bookshelf, will not be surprised to discover that President Blair carries ‘a copy of the Koran with me whenever I can, to give me courage and inspiration’. He went on, in his interview with Muslim News, to say that he found the Koran clear and reflective, revealing ‘the concept of love and fellowship as the guiding spirits of humanity’.
Our beloved leader was introduced to the better book by none other than Chelsea Clinton. One part that Chelsea’s dad must have appreciated more than most, is unlikely to find itself into New Labour or Democratic Party manifestos, viz. ‘Woman is thy tilth. Plough her as thou wilt.’ (Surah 2 v223)
Golly, Gosht! Suffering from anything from obesity to cancer? You’re in luck. Why not try a bottle of bovine bladder extract?
The therapeutic tipple is the idea of the self-proclaimed ‘World Council of Holy Men’ in Gujerat, India. The beneficial beverage is collected daily from 600 shelters for wounded cattle. Hindus believe that all cow products are sacred and a team of scientists is trying to prove there are genuine medicinal benefits and that it’s not just a load of old bullocks. So far they have proved it is an effective fertilizer but, at 30 pee a bottle (also available in cream form) Ghee Whizz could revolutionize the National Health budget.
LIBERAL JOBS WORTH PROMOTION
As predicted in this column, John Saxbee is to be the new Bishop of Lincoln (a minute’s silence for England’s largest diocese please).
Saxbee, President of the Modern Churchpersons Union (or ‘Agnostics Anonymous’, as it is known in the trade) used his press conference to wax eloquent about his commitment… to popular culture and his addiction to soaps. Judging by recent preferment trends any upwardly mobile clergyman will need to make clear that he is similarly dedicated to such regular evening offices.
‘There are only six stories in the world and they are in the Bible and in the soaps,’ enthused Saxbee. Whether they were true or simply myths he did not vouchsafe. However, as long-standing adviser to Carlton Television, he might like to explain why clergy are so regularly portrayed as wet, immoral, ineffective and relentlessly liberal.
MORE INANE TWADDLE
The Diocese of Birmingham (proprietor Mark Santer) has taken a bold step forward in its mission to disaffected youth. A series of witty, challenging and relevant posters are set to festoon the city this month.
The most comprehensible is one that opines ‘Life gone to pot? Made a hash of things? Life not too E-asy?’ over a huge logo of the Church of England and the Diocese of Birmingham. Unusual and laudable to see such public confession from an institution.
The most controversial is one that reads ‘Body piercing? Jesus had his done 2000 years ago.’ The idea of Our Lord with a nasal stud, navel ring, tongue bolt and eyebrow shaft will, as you can readily understand, instantly draw agnostic adolescents to the ‘wicked’ new CofE.
Of course example is always best and 30 Days suggests that the diocesan staff take their bishops to the piercing studios and ask for a ‘Prince Albert’ all round.
The Daily Telegraph ran a fascinating interview with Mrs Vivienne Faull, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, the most upwardly mobile woman priest in Britain. The lovely Viv, ‘Princess’ to her supporters on the staff apparently, has enjoyed an extraordinary inside track career. She began her diaconate and priestly ministry as Chaplain of Clare College, Cambridge. From there she went to Gloucester Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral (as deputy head boy) and now supremo at Leicester.
She predicts that ‘the priesthood will become a profession dominated by women’ as the Church becomes ‘more marginal’. This is a chicken and egg argument, but undoubtedly wicked old reactionaries like Forward in Faith have always prophesied a link between scriptural disobedience and the incredible shrinking Church.
Nice to know we agree on something, Viv. But what’s this quote in the headline? ‘I’m not sure I see Myself in a Mitre.’ As that other great catholic lady, Mrs Doyle, would say, ‘Ah, go on. Go on! Go on! Go on!’
DON’T PANIC! DON’T PANIC!
When the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster announces that Christianity is all but vanquished in the life of the nation, it’s all hands to the pumps. When the Archbishop of Canterbury announces that Christianity in England has nothing to fear, it’s time to man the lifeboats.
GEMS FROM THE CREM II
1) An offering from one of our Roman brethren from the Emerald Isle was noted recently. Skirting round the troubled matter of the resurrection hope for the dear departed who had led a ‘colourful and difficult life’, the Father Ted impersonator assured us, on no less than three occasions that, ‘We would all’ve liked Peter to be sitting here next to us today. Unfortunately, as you will be aware, he can’t be.’
2) The address at Derek’s funeral was dominated by recording his obsession with fishing. Derek had, apparently, gone fishing from Friday night to Sunday night every weekend for the last 20 years of his life. Appropriately his coffin departed to the strains of Gone Fishing. Scarcely surprising then that his widow expressed, to the officiating minister, her disappointment that none of his fishing club mates had bothered to come to the funeral.
Imagine the minister’s confusion when a puzzled mourner introduced himself as a keen fisherman and, coincidentally, a member of the club so apparently central to dear Derek’s life. ‘I don’t want to worry you, Vicar,’ the mourner began, ‘but Derek was never a member of our club and, wherever he took his rod and tackle at the weekends, I can assure you he’s never been bally fishing in his life.’