A fun story from New South Wales, where a Catholic priest, stopped by police for drunken driving, managed to return one of the highest blood-alcohol readings ever recorded in the State. When Fr Peter Jones, 58, was stopped, officers subjected him to a breath-test which allegedly returned an off-the-chart reading of “+.5” – the highest possible reading the breathalyser can handle!

Due to his state, Fr Jones was apparently bailed into the custody of another priest, a Fr Hackett, before being transported home. Fans of Father Ted will be hoping that Fr Hackett rejoiced in the Christian name Jack but, sad to say, he seems to be a model of sobriety called Rex.

In the steps of St Paul

Well, it’s all been very entertaining, hasn’t it? What with tents all over the steps up to the West Door of the Cathedral – most of which, according to The Daily Telegraph, are empty overnight (presumably, the protestors are commuting home to the suburbs on the same trains as all the wicked capitalists!); what with the Canon Chancellor, Giles Fraser, telling all and sundry that he was happy for people to ‘exercise their right to protest peacefully’ outside the cathedral; and what with the Dean of St Paul’s announcing that the Cathedral would close until the protestors had packed up and left (it’s ‘elf ‘n’ safety, innit?) – a thoroughly transparent ruse that singularly failed to have the desired effect.

Add to that mix a report by Robert Pigott on BBC TV News to the effect that the ‘a handful of clergy’ were reciting the Offices behind the firmly locked doors – which enabled him to utilise the all-too obvious opening phrase ‘Not since the blitz . . .’ and it was obvious that here was a story with the potential to run and run. And it wasn’t long before the Press Office at the Bookmakers William Hill entered the game, by announcing that they had ‘cut their odds about St Paul’s Cathedral remaining closed to the general public from now until Christmas Day itself from 100/1 to 50/1 after reports suggested that is the aim of protestors camped there. “One assumes that Cathedral authorities will be desperate to reopen what is one of the capital’s major religious and tourist focal points, but as yet they appear to have shown much desire to reopen until the protestors depart, and there is little sign of that” said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.’

Speculation that the Dean & Chapter were aiming to cover their losses of £20,000 per day with a series of well-placed bets at the conveniently situated 23 Ludgate Hill is, needless to say, utterly unfounded.

PCC News

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when yet again someone tries to sideline Christmas. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse! For the victim this time round is every child’s favourite steam train, Thomas the Tank Engine! According to The Daily Telegraph, a television company which is recording new adventures for the little blue engine has rebranded Christmas as ‘the holidays’ in a recent storyline, in order to comply with ‘politically correct’ thinking.

Step forward Mrs Hilary Fortnam, daughter of Thomas’s creator, the Revd Wilbert Awdry, who wrote to the Telegraph that her late father ‘would feel very strongly about this politically correct age and that those who now write his stories should not have taken Christ out of Christmas.’ In the offending TV episode called Keeping up with James, the trains compete to carry presents to children against a background with a fir tree decorated with baubles and a choir.

But instead of using the word Christmas, the programme talks of the ‘winter holidays’ and a ‘holiday tree’. Interviewed by the Telegraph, Mrs Fortnam added that she was worried that people would think her father had dropped the idea of Christmas from his books. ‘It’s frustrating to me because I don’t want people thinking my father wrote those words,’ she said. ‘The television programmes say they are based on the books of Rev W Awdry and I don’t want people thinking a vicar would write that.’ (30DAys knows a few that might!) Meanwhile, TV Production Company Hit Entertainment leapt ineptly to its own defence by issuing a statement explaining that ‘references to Christmas were removed because the DVD on which it featured was designed to be sold all the year round’. So that’s alright, then.

Bishop Who

Meanwhile, hard by the Olympic Park in East London, Vicar’s wife and Assistant Minister (sic) Carol Richards managed to get the tabloids up into a froth over her advice to the good folk at S .John’s Church, Stratford E15.

First, she suggested – not unreasonably – that intending brides might avoid organising weddings during the Games next summer; and then, perhaps less wisely, she went on to say funerals at that time should be planned for ‘quiet Olympic days’ (whatever they are!).

Needless to say, by the times that Fleet Street’s finest had finished with the story, the lead-in ran thus: An English vicar has sounded the most bizarre warning yet ahead of the London Olympics, telling her congregation to not die or get married during the Games.

30DAYs felt really quite sorry for her, until we read on the parish website that she also works part-time as the Bishop of Barking’s Regeneration Adviser – an image on which the 30DAYs team, as fans to a person of Dr Who, prefers not to dwell.

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