CANTERBURY STAKES I
When the press lobby’s ‘traditionalist’ candidate, Richard Chartres, was asked if he would like to be Canterbury, his reply was a corker. ‘Not really’, he drawled in his best Churchillian tones, ‘I’ve done that job already.’
When asked whom he would suggest, he confounded the politics of the race by confiding, with a completely straight face, ‘Rowan Williams’ – the leading Liberal contender.
CANTERBURY STAKES II
A national journalist rings one of 30 Days team of reporters. He has been writing profiles on the candidates for his paper. Those that have appeared already have received notes of thanks from the subject bishops for the fairness and objectivity of the articles. But he has been trying to write an article about ‘the compromise candidate’, Christopher Herbert, the Bishop of St Albans.
‘What the hell is going on in that diocese?’ he explodes. ‘No one will say anything. They are all, apparently, under instructions not to speak to the press. I asked one of the dignitaries if he could simply say what a nice chap Herbert was. ‘Oh, he’s a nice chap,’ the dignitary replied, ‘but don’t quote me. I’d have to check it with the bishop’s office first.’ Total paranoia!
30 Days was able to assure the heated hack that Herbert is a nice chap, a very, very nice chap. Off the record, of course.
NO MORE MAWER
Parliamentary scallywags, double-dealers, back-scratchers, ministerial mortgage brokers, passport pedlars and assorted political parasites can rest easy. Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner appointed to sluice the sleaze out of SW1, is no more. Eased out of office by the Jowly Jock, who became Speaker in one of the most discredited elections since the eighteenth century, she is to be replaced by a much more comforting figure.
Step forward career civil servant, Philip Mawer, Supremo of the General Synod.
It will, of course, be a huge culture shock for our Phil to find himself involved in an institution deeply corrupted by patronage, staffed by ‘yes’ men, presided over by an amiable buffoon, and appealing to less and less people.
BISHOP CHRISTOPHER MORGAN
No, it’s not a mistake. But before our browsing bishops choke on their All Bran or blow the froth off their Ovaltine in apoplexy, we should explain. It is not that awful scribbler from the Sunday Times, whose stories regularly promote episcopal incontinence (and turn out to be true, shortly after official denials) with disquieting regularity.
This Christopher Morgan turns out to be the new Bishop of Colchester and, according to the Gloucester Citizen, has just been promoted from his job as ‘Recreational Canon’!
The GameBoy Bishop is pictured receiving a ‘wooden shepherd’s crook, known as a crosier in religious circles’ from David Bentley, Bishop of Gloucester. A spokesman for the cathedral is quoted as saying that, ‘a bishop’s work is like that of a shepherd, but in a biblical way.’ This kind of explanation is necessary, no doubt, for a diocese so near to Wales.
The Playstation Prelate will bring a dynamic new impetus to Chelmsford’s juvenile outreach.
LIES, DAMNED LIES AND VICARS
As predicted so often in the columns of this magazine, revival is at hand. Courtesy of the Central Statistical Unit of Church House we discover that church-going has not really dropped below the one million mark, as previously calculated, but is bouncing along happily at nearly one-and-a-half million. How can this be?
Apparently, so officials revealed to the press, Vicars were ‘undercounting’ their congregations to avoid quota (the Church tax). Thanks to this revelation the poor bloody infantry (the parish clergy) woke on the first Sunday in February to be greeted by headlines like: ‘Vicars fiddle congregation figures to avoid Church tax!’
The truth is that the new ‘ better’ figures have come from Head Office counting in a totally different way. They now include, among other things, weekday services. So no direct comparison with previous figures is possible.
As usual parish clergy were given no warning of this exciting ‘news’ nor, of course, of the deliberate slur on their integrity.
MADNESS IN THE METHODISTS
Hard on the heels of their exciting crockery-smashing liturgy, our proposed ecumenical partner, the Methodist Church, has come up with another ‘cutting-edge’ offering.
Vows and Partings is a fifty-page book of prayers to celebrate National Marriage Week and includes everything from prayers for divorcing couples to invocations for parents ‘whose son or daughter comes out’. Couched in the nauseating hushed tones of ‘counsel-speak’, it is mainly an exercise in self-hypnosis to make sinful behaviour seem more acceptable. Some of it is just cruel farce.
‘Wesley’s Wonders’ suggest that those who care for a parting couple should help them keep ‘ unmarked’ anniversaries. These include,’ the day he/she walked out on us’, ‘ the last time we made love’, ‘ the day the decree nisi was granted’.
In a blasphemous parody of the Easter Vigil and Baptism service we are recommended to signify the ending of the relationship by lighting two small candles from a larger one and then extinguishing the larger one! ‘Divorce Ceremonies’ should use ‘family albums, candles, stones and water’.
Not, presumably, to aid the broken family (or stone the adulterer) but to satisfy the emotional necrophilia of the (de)composers of this abject twaddle.
GIRLS ON TOP?
The feminist lobby groups are steaming. There is a vile rumour going round that the Rochester Commission is heading towards an implausible and deeply unedifying conclusion. The wimmin are putting it about that Mr Rochester believes that (1) there are no theological objections to women bishops (Hurrah!) and (2) the time is not right to proceed! (Boo! Hiss! Hoots of derision!)
…at least, not until I have had two or three years to get my feet under the table as Archbishop of Kandaharbury.
SHE WAS JUST SEVENTEEN
It is recently that Gloucester had an unfortunate Bishop called Ball. Now its cathedral, a film set for Harry Potter, has an organist of the same name who has also made the national press. ‘Ball the Organ,’ has had to apologize for an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl chorister. This is hard on the heels of his wife divorcing him for an affair with a married mother of two who was also under his baton.
Harry Potter, it seems, is not the only one to have been waving his wand over Gloucester Cathedral recently and enchanting the unsuspecting ‘muggles’. As usual no resignations are expected.