Letters to the Church Magazine – August 2016

Dear Sir

The recent “Brexit” vote appears to have been swung by the number of people who voted in the belief that a “Leave” vote meant many people from other countries would have to leave. This attitude is deplorable. There are far more people we should be looking to remove. Specifically:

  • Liberals
  • People who wear chasubles
  • Liberals who wear chasubles
  • Giles Fraser
  • Organists
  • Nudists
  • Nudist organists
  • People who are still ripping off jokes from “Reggie Perrin” 40 years on
  • Atheists
  • Socialists
  • Nudist atheist socialist organists
  • People who read the New International Version of the Bible
  • Animal Liberationists
  • The quiz show “Pointless”, which accepts people even if they are in the groups above
  • People who can’t quite hit high F# but keep trying
  • Lesbians
  • Thespians
  • Pedestrians
  • Latvians.

Yours etc

Melissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Once again six months have passed and Revd Nathan has not made it into the news.

In these days when there are many famous, attractive priests on the telly I feel he is not trying hard enough. He should maybe rob a bank, become a pop star or develop a radical  theory that St Timothy was Welsh.

Yours etc

Gabrielle Fitch Thompson, the Old Market House, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I note from last month’s magazine that every inhabitant of Woodby Chapel End is now past the age of retirement. A remarkable tribute to the attractiveness of the village, its health-giving climate and the way our beautiful Trim Valley encourages active lives even in the 8th and 9th decades.

Of course the downside is that property prices are stupidly expensive now, and nobody else can afford to retire there! Like me.  That’s why I’m starting a course on “Extreme Eurythmics” in the chapel hall on Wednesdays at 8.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

The hymn sheet on Sunday said “Savior”, not “Saviour”. Clearly the vicar had downloaded the song from an American website. It could have been owned by Donald Trump.

I used to work for the “Socialist Worker” newspaper. This would never have been allowed.

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

My oh my, you’re such a big boy
On a Saturday night.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It has been seven months since Christmas and I regret that I have not managed to return to St Mary’s since that lovely Nativity Play.

Wherever I have been since that beautiful performance – on holiday, away on business or (typically) in bed – I have always intended to pop into a Sunday service. I am sure I will make it before next Christmas.

Yours etc

Jasmine Jones, “Chitterings”, Wheezy Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

That is a fantastic new  range of polish the church cleaners are using. After a hard day at the allotment, I have found there is nothing like having a quick “buffing up” with the brass cleaner. Quite sets me up for the evening.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I hear that the new version of the Church website has been cleverly programmed so that it can be viewed on a phone! What will our social medium, Doris, think of next. I tried to look at it on my phone but where will it appear? All I can see is some numbers. Do I need to look down the receiver?

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Is it just me that has noticed that, increasingly, there is nothing to do with the smaller decimal coins – 1p, 2p and 1/2p? Certainly I have been spending a lot of time moving it around on the sideboard without ever quite getting round to spending it. When one buys the weekly shop or, as it may be, a round at the Hanged Man, with a bagful of pennies people can get quite annoyed. And lots of small change can wear holes in one’s trousers.

Which is why last year I came up with the concept of the “Change Bucket” in the church porch. Over the last 12 months we have raised £5.33 in loose change from passers-by!

Of course, to prevent theft I had to have the bucket made out of stainless steel, fastened by a five-level padlock, and brazed to the railings – and had to get a faculty to do so. I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

After twelve months we have decided to stop the “Messy Church” at Woodby Chapel due to low attendances. People told us we were foolish to try, that it had never worked before and that it was against God’s law. But we are not disheartened. It is still my fervent belief that we have a mission to the young families of the village.

Yours etc

Chloe Joey, “El Nino Cottage”, Woodby Chapel End 


Dear Sir

Once again the vicar has been suggesting that we should put money into the collection plate – on the flimsy grounds that this will enable the church to pay the wages of priests. When will this naked socialism end? Why can the church not pay him out of its own money?

Yours etc

Mary England,  Carstairs House, Woodby

Letters to the Church Magazine – July 2016

Dear Sir

Candles are expensive. We use two candles on the altar, two around the altar, and two for the acolytes. That’s six candles lit every week. It soon adds up.

I have invented viable solar-powered candles by embedding LED lights into the tops of wax candles, and solar panels and batteries into the candlesticks. Their use would save an average of £14.22 per annum. Services would have to be shorter in the winter, but nobody would mind.

In the course of my experiments I have run up some expenses. I therefore include an invoice for £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester Street


Dear Sir

The middle of the summer and still we have not seen a nudist bishop, despite all the promises earlier in the year.

This is not what I pay my entrance fee for.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

My seventeen-greats grandfather built Woodby Chapel so he could have a church conveniently placed next to his house. He then knocked down all the copyholders’ cottages so he did not have to put up with the site and smell of the peasants, except on Sundays and at Christmas.

And yet, when I asked the vicar if we could hold our Sunday service on Mondays, when he is less busy, he said he was afraid not.

If one cannot get one’s own clergy to do what they are told, I no longer know what the Church of England stands for.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

So many people telling us how great it was to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday with a special church service.
A special united benefice-and-ecumenical church service. If it had not been that the people from all the other churches refused to turn up, St Mary’s could have been full.
On balance, I am glad we marked her Majesty’s 90th. But I hope we do not do it every year.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

In my 66th year as Church Warden, people often ask me how I manage to keep St Leodegarius so neat and tidy.

It’s simple. I have persuaded the local builders that I am a witch, and they carry out free maintenance as long as I do not put a curse on them.

Obviously, I am just using simple suggestion. And the week that Young Larry the bricklayer spent as a 6 foot tall Rhode Island Red chicken was a coincidence.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for the Children’s Church presentation of “Our Glorious Queen” at the 90th Birthday service.

In our rehearsals they had pretended to be corgies, they waved Union Jacks and sang “Happy Birthday Dear Ma’am.” I suspect they got their ideas from Mr Corbyn, the “trendy” teacher at Tremlett Primary. But calling for “class war” and a republic. and demanding that the “Hanoverian leeches cease feeding on the blood of the working class” was definitely not in the script the previous Sunday.

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I heard that the wardens at Woodby were having trouble with bats.

Bats can be seen as a nuisance – their droppings mean that all items of value have to be covered, and they make an awful mess on the church floor. But they are rare animals, and protected by law.

That is why I nipped in when the church was unlocked and shot the lot with an air gun. Figured that would save the vicar and church wardens a lot of trouble.

Ask no questions etc….

Yours etc

The “Masked Avenger”


Dear Sir

An apology and a plea, after last month’s celebration of  Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

I now know that by “Joint Service”, what was meant was a service with our ecumenical friends, and the other parishes in the benefice.

I realised my mistake when, handing out a few spliffs, people pointed out to me that the Health Act 2006 made the tobacco element illegal in church. Also, the Baptists complained, thinking it was incense. Although when I handed out the “turbo chocolate brownies”  instead, I did get an invitation to contribute to the next fete cake stall.

As a result of my mistake, and the subsequent raid by Her Majesty’s Constabulary (ironic considering whom we were celebrating) I am £100 worse off. Also I now have quite a lot of space in my greenhouse. So if anyone has a few tomato plants they can let me have, I will be grateful.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

In the light of the Referendum result I am sad to announce that our old friends the Club des Randonneurs  de St Cast will not be accepting our annual invitation to join the Trim Valley Trotters on the annual “Friendship Wamble”.

On the bright side, we didn’t really like them. It’ll be a relief to do the rounds without them this year.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

At this summer time, our thoughts turn to the seaside; the hills; foreign travel; encountering interesting people and new and exotic customs. In accordance with this, I have been inspired to write this short haiku, as a variant on my normal, more traditional poetic style.

“A partridge dreams of summer”

Death death death

Death death death death death

Death death death.

Wishing everybody a restful summer holiday.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – June 2016

Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my behaviour at the service with the Archdeacon.

I misheard the service name and thought it was the Swearing-at of Churchwardens. I’m afraid I let a whole year of frustration at the state of the memorials on the North Wall go to my head.

I was appropriately admonished after the service by Revd Joanna, from whom I learnt a few words I could have done with knowing beforehand.

Yours etc

Anna Kee, Chafing Lane, Woodby, UK


Dear Sir

Having attended the Youth Services over the last two months my fears have been allayed.

Thanks to the guiding hand of the Vicar, the “modern” songs included were Lord of the Dance and Shine Jesus shine, both played by Mavis on the harmonium. I believe we have subverted a dangerous movement just in time.

I am pleased to hear that another dangerously modern song, “Will You come and Follow Me”, has been put on the back burner. Mavis believes she will not be able to cope with it until after her hip replacement.

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I hear that the Vicar has banned the jumble stall from this month’s fete on the grounds that all the jumble has spent the last seventy years in the jumble cupboard in the church hall, only coming out for fetes where nobody buys it.

I am outraged. The jumble stall, selling the same mouldy clothes every summer, has been woven into the fabric of this parish. If we lose the jumble stall, we may as well let the tower fall and sell the nave off to the Scientologists.

This means we will have only the crockery stall, the coconut shy and the tombola. Truly a fete worse than death.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I dropped into the Great Tremlett Bell Ringer’s meeting last week again. I am rather confused.

A load of people I have never seen in church, all wearing sweaters and ringing bells. Where do they go when the service starts? Do the wardens lock them in the bell tower until the next practice?

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

According to the vicar’s sermon last Sunday, we are supposed to be opening up the church to the “Gentiles”. I don’t know who the Gentiles are, but they sound dreadful – apparently they don’t know the Bible, worship sheep, and are violently opposed to God’s prophets.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather we kept the Gentiles out of Church completely, thank you very much. They’d probably make an awful mess.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

According to the diocesan training programme, there are certificates for lay worship leading, preaching, children’s work, evangelism, church administration and leading small groups in Bible study. I think these courses are an utter waste of time.

If the vicar didn’t learn all this in three years at theological college, why are we expecting him to go on all these courses now, when he should be ministering to people?

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

With the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Bill, I became concerned. The church is fill of incense. And what is incense if not something that stimulates the nervous system? I know it stimulates mine.

Therefore I had to take action before Cromwell’s agents appeared in the Trim Valley. I decided the best thing to do was to hide the incense in an Aubrey.

I would like to apologise to Aubrey. He has been very forgiving. And explained that what I really ought to do was put the incense in an Aumbry. Different word entirely.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the weather warms and we are into the season of open-air fund raising, can I be the first to make the joke about a fete worse than death.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

This is a close-knit community. Everybody knows everybody else, and there are many people whose families have been in the Trim Valley for hundreds of years.

So we have decided it was safest to close the Trim Valley Singles Group. At least until we get the Little Tremlett church minibus repaired, and can bus them to Banbury in search of new bloodlines.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

In these quiet days after Trinity, it would be ideal to introduce a new martyr’s commemoration. Remembering someone gentle, innocent and viciously murdered in cold blood.

I refer of course to Harambe the Gorilla. If the Pope will not bring forward his canonization, despite the outcry of millions of people across the world – who will surely remember this outrage for years to come, and not the normal Social Media 10 minutes – then at least we can rename St Mary’s as Saint Harambe’s? Or maybe St Simian the Zealot’s.

Yours etc

Barbara E Ape, “Tiggywinkles”, Meadow Leys.

Letters to the Church Magazine – May 2016

Dear Sir

The new Pope has been a revelation to me over the last few years. Modern, up-to-date, revolutionary and yet determinedly no different to the previous Popes in any way at all when it comes to theology and doctrine. What a masterpiece of communication that is.

However, I am slightly confused as the previous Pope appears still to be living in Francis’s back garden. Surely this is not normal? Was his regeneration stuck on this occasion? Or can we expect a “special” when the last seven Popes all appear to battle the Zygons?

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his post-Easter vacation. And the people of Woodby were so happy once again to have the Nestorian Rite restored!

I did miss out on Evensong at Woodby on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. A very strange event indeed. I was just about to head out for the service when I received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s wife, telling me that due to an imminent nuclear strike I should hide in the cellar with a bottle of Vimto and a good book.

Naturally I thought this an odd occurrence. But one cannot be too careful in these dangerous times. So I went down into the cellar for – as nearly as I could judge – the three days recommended to allow the radiation to go down.

Emerging on what I assumed was Wednesday, I realised it was actually still just 3am on Monday. The cellar is very dark, meaning I could not read the book, so time had clearly passed very slowly. I was relieved to discover, however, that the village was still intact.

Still, I am glad that the Reader, Doreen, was able to step in for me at the last moment – and conveniently had a sermon for the Sunday after Easter with her! I can only express my gratitude for the number of times Doreen has helped me out on a number of similar occasion!

Yours etc

Canon Vyvyan Westcliffe (Retd) (But still available for occasional offices), The Old Vicarage, Woodby


Dear Sir

I note the Guardian report of the church in Canada where the (female) pastor does not believe in God, has taken the Lord’s Prayer out of the service and thinks the Bible is a human construction.

Which is all fair enough. But she has also removed half the pews. Is this the faith that has been handed down to us? I doubt it very much. I do not understand how she could be allowed to remain in her job.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett



Dear Sir

I attended the Toddlers’ Group at Little Tremlett last week.

In retrospect, I had no real idea of what I was expecting. But it turned out the place was crawling – often literally – with small children. What is the point of that?

They are very poor singers, their theology is dreadful and there was no sermon at all. I am fairly sure Our Lord never founded a Toddlers’ Group.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

Why does the Vicar keep telling us that Easter is not over?

All the eggs are eaten. The hot cross buns are back on sale in Tesco. Of course Easter is over. Get over it.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again we have been unfortunate enough to have “modern worship” foisted on us, in the Vicar’s constant attempt to be “trendy”.

Honestly, what he thought he was doing last week, introducing a radical hymn by Charles Wesley was beyond me. My family have worshipped in this parish for 1,000 years. And I do not see how this kind of innovation has been allowed to slip in, unnoticed.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

The Sunday after Easter is a lovely day. Without the kind of irrational behaviour that some members indulged in on Easter Sunday, from what I have heard. Although why anyone thought the Major would be any other way behaved after his twelve-hour Easter Egg-eating Vigil is beyond me! But Low Sunday is a day of calm and contemplation. The congregation is often smaller, but the service is no less reflective and thoughtful for that.

Especially when no children at all attend Sunday School. I had such a lovely nap, I did not even wake up to come back in to show the congregation what I had been doing.

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I was fortunate to go into Tesco in Banbury the day they decided to clear their Easter seasonal merchandise.

Now there were many chocolate eggs marked down, but I will be honest. After Easter Day I do not really fancy any chocolate for a while. Whenever I get that kind of sugar rush, for some reason I always end up standing on the table-tomb and juggling.

But enough of what happened on Easter Day.  I realised that, at the knock-down prices they were offering liqueur-filled chocolates for, I had a way of obtaining alcohol at a lower rate even than on the British Legion’s annual booze cruise to Calais.

Accordingly I filled the Land Rover with boxes of liqueur chocolates, and retired to the shed at Rodney’s Rest with some empty pop bottles, a funnel, and a sharp knife.

I will be honest. My initial plan was to separate out each liqueur into its own bottle, based on the chocolate type. But, after I had drunk the first half pint of cherry brandy, I realised it would be more efficient simply to pour the contents of each chocolate into a communal bottle.

I have 4 litres of sludgy brown mixed liqueur left in the shed now. I may leave it till Christmas to mature or, rather, settle out.

But the stuff I actually drank last Saturday had, it is fair to say, quite an effect. Suddenly I thought the thousands of empty chocolate shells seemed quite a waste. For reasons I can now not quite remember, I decided that the best thing to do with them was to melt them all down and have a giant chocolate bath. Possibly I thought it might help with my complexion. It has not been good lately. I blame all the chocolate I have been eating.

Well, with the liqueurs and the warmth of the chocolate, I fell asleep. I awoke the next morning with the church bells ringing and realised I had better get a move on. Unfortunately, in my sleep-fuddled state, I assumed the feel of chocolate on my skin was that of my clothing.

I have since become aware that the arrival of a naked retired military officer, clad only in chocolate, gave quite a shock to the ladies in the congregation of St Jude’s.

I would have run straight back out when I realised. However, the chocolate, hitting the cold air of the church, started to solidify. I was unable to move.

I would like to praise Revd Nathan for the professional way he continued with the service, while I stood there like a particularly modernist art installation. And I would also like to thank Jeb who came round with a sack barrow, and wheeled me back to my house, where an hour stood by the radiator restored my movement.

I would be grateful if any members of the congregation could let me use their showers, however. It turns out that chocolate is incompatible with modern drainage systems. We have four teams of plumbers working shifts to restore our sanitation to its normal condition.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

This is not, I am aware, a Church-related issue. But, affecting everyone in the benefice as it does, I felt it was worthy of publishing.

There have been many discussions as to whether the European Union makes the people of the United Kingdom richer or poorer. But no other commentator has the financial experience I have developed over the past 2 years of saving money for Grilsby Church.

After a complex analysis, including the risk to interest rates, the difficulty of negotiating trade tariffs and the “rebate” negotiated by St Margaret Thatcher, I have calculated that the average Briton will be between £74.22 better off and £74.22 worse off.

In the course of this calculation I have of course consumed a considerable amount of consumables. I therefore include an invoice to Nigel Farage to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

In his sermon on Low Sunday the vicar totally failed to get to the heart of the Easter story. Maybe he prepared too quickly due to packing for his week off.

If the story of Doubting Thomas teaches us anything, surely it is that imperial oppression is always with us. The disciples were hiding because they feared that the powers of oppression – the Sanhedrin in association with the Romans – were clamping down on the Socialist manifesto published by Jesus, and to be followed by his disciples.

Surely we should understand now why they were so scared – when Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate could storm in at any minute, to demand they got out and worked – for a minimum wage – on a Sunday to enable them to earn enough to buy the shoddy subsidised goods of the Chinese, and pay enough tax to enable Pilate to top up his off shore bank account.

Yet did the vicar mention this? Not at all.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

The temperature keeps falling
Soon there will be no lights
Just a red glow of glass coffins
Watched by someone through the night.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It occurred to me, with the improving weather, that the archaeologists and neo-pagans would be back at the so-called “Holy Well” in the Rectory gardens. And so, on 1 April, I took to my watchtower, lest any heathenism or naked dancing should occur.

None has yet. But I shall not cease from my guard. If any such things happen I shall of course need evidence. Therefore I have my trusty Kodak with me at all times. If any nude dancing breaks out, I shall ensure I have pictures.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I’m afraid to tell you that the Friendship Group is no longer meeting. They fell out.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Ah, how I miss some of the traditions of the old Trim Valley! Although the schoolchildren do their best, their maypole dancing does not compare to the days of my youth, when the young people from across the Valley would join together in a celebration that Sumer is, indeed, y-cumen in.

THE MAYPOLE

The cuckoo starts his summer song
And in the valley, all along
The bluebells grace the succulent sward
And dumbledores lumber abroad.

The maypole rises in the ley
And celebrates this fine May Day
The ribbons, coloured fine and bright
Suspended from that awful height

Whereon the village boys have tied
Sweet tokens of this sweet May tide.
And primrose, narcissi, apple blooth
Tell joyously of love and youth.

Yet the flowers which the pole have quilted
Have only hours until they’ve wilted.
Up in the air, with bright sunlight,
They’re soon just shrivelled, out of sight.

Young men and maids, with song and laughter
You’ll all follow shortly after.
So take a lesson from the flowers
You think you’ve years – it will seem like hours.

And birds that hop in gardens bright
And hedgehogs, scuttling through the night
And foxes, howling in the dell
Make the most of it, you’re doomed as well.

Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.

Wishing everyone a joyous Maytide.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – April 2016

Dear Sir

I notice that the Church Hall is advertising “Pilates” on Wednesday afternoons. I am shocked.

That an organisation should be set up for people to commemorate this vile man is an outrage. I complained to the Vicar. But he washed his hands of the whole matter. Apparently the contagion is spreading.

Yours etc

Constanza Nearby, “Donebloggin'”, Woodby


Dear Sir

I have spent the afternoon in the Church with my laser measuring device, and there is no doubt. At some point in the last 12 months, the lectern has been moved at least nine inches to the right, as viewed from the congregational point of view. It has also been rotated anticlockwise by a good 7°.

My grandfather donated the lectern in 1963 after the old one collapsed. Older members may remember that it contracted woodworm from old Mnason Sanderson’s wooden leg. Sawdust all over the floor. My grandfather would turn in his grave if he had not asked for his ashes to be scattered over the curate.

This sloppiness has also spilled over in other areas. For instance, at the Eucharist last week, Revd Joanne was clearly standing three or four inches to the left of centre. Also he appears to be a woman.

We would never have allowed this to happen at British Timken. All the steelwork would have turned out crooked.

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

I was shocked to watch the documentary on the modern church of England on UK Gold last week. Can you believe that a woman vicar could have just one tiny village as her benefice, that the PCC seems to have annexed the parish council (and meets every week) and lives in a village entirely populated by drooling idiots? If there were any fairness we would see the total separation of church and state in Dibley, and the village merged with at least six others.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

I appear to have woken up, and Easter is over.

It all started on Mothering Sunday, when Mrs Dumpling made the Simnel Cake for after the service. I have never really liked the taste of marzipan, so I attempted to mask the almondy nature of the sweetmeat with a bottle of whisky. Per cake. Of which Mrs Dumpling made seven.

All of the parishioners refused to eat the cake, on the grounds that “the marzipan smells funny”. So I was forced to consume each one in succession.

I notice that during my time of trance, I have covered the inside of the shed – where I have lain, in dew and heat – with a remarkable mural of the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. If anyone would like to visit, my shed has been forcibly purchased by the National Trust, who have posted two guard-badgers with a cash machine in the largest plant pot.

You know, I’m not sure I did not eat too much Simnel Cake.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Could I please take the opportunity to advertise our special event on May Day?

At precisely midnight on April 30 / May 1 we will be running naked into Grilsby Forest, there to enjoy a night of frolicking and sexual activity in the pagan tradition.

If the weather is inclement, we shall instead be serving coffee and buns in the Village Hall.

All proceeds will be in aid of the refurbishment of the bus shelter.

Yours etc

Mildred Flossett (Mothers’ Union Branch Secretary), Jasmine Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As ever, the false etymologists are out in force this Easter, claiming that the feast originated from a Pagan goddess called Eostre, Astarte, Ishtar or Ethel.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In my forthcoming blog, “The Truth About Easter”, I conclusively prove that the name “Easter” originates in the Lutonian “Astra”, a Bedfordshire word which means “Reasonably-priced Hatchback”. By considering the German equivalent, “Opel Kadett”, I thereby prove that in fact Easter was invented by General Motors company in 1954 as a commercial ruse to sell more cars.

In the 60s, the sale of chocolate-covered cars declined rapidly as they lost out to the much more cheaply produced Easter Eggs, and the link between car manufacturing in the Home Counties and Easter was lost.

I did offer my book proposal to a number of publishing houses. But they all responded with the message “go away, you utter fantasist”. I am therefore forced to take my mission – that all should know the truth of Easter – to the Internets.

Yours etc

Roland Yoland, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

 

At this time of economic tightness, and with the Parish Share rising exponentially to pay for the six-week holidays at health spas to which all vicars are now entitled, has anyone considered the sheer waste of money involved in the annual Easter Egg Hunt during the services around the benefice?

Every year, the children of the Trim Valley run around the churches and churchyards, hunting for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (or at least those that the Major has not eaten in one of his annual frenzies); Co-op Mini Eggs; Nestle Easter Eggs and so on. Many of these eggs do not have the word “Easter” in the packaging, and all cost money.

By experimentation I have proved that, if one dips peeled, hard-boiled eggs into melted chocolate, one can make an Easter comestible that is simultaneously cheaper than the commercial equivalent, and also hideously repulsive to eat.

I estimate that if we used the new “Norbert Eggs” instead of shop-bought produce, the demand for Easter Egg Hunts would evaporate after just one year

In the course of my researches I have had to buy quite a lot of chocolate, and a number of eggs from Mrs Geronimo’s Free-Range Farm Shop. I therefore enclose an invoice to the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

We’ve gotta hold on to what we’ve got.
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

 

I was intrigued to see the Revd Kate Bottley on the TV over Easter with a programme about Judas. Despite the scandalmongers who poured scorn on the idea in advance – fooled by clever marketing in the Telegraph – it was well made, interesting and mostly quite traditional in its outlook on the events of the first Holy Week.

However, the BBC may have missed a trick. In using a young female vicar with a regional accent, they have totally broken the tradition of using old ugly men with posh voices whenever a clergy is required on a TV programme. If this kind of thing continues people may think that religion is not a bunch of old women in the pews listening to boring old posh men – and there would we be? America, that’s where.

Yours etc

Sadie Cobley-Anhall, “Tweezers”, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Easter Sunday and yet again we had a sermon on the Resurrection. The lack or imagination of our clergy is quite remarkable.

OK, so Jesus is risen from the dead. We get it. Turn the record over. We could do with something else. Let’s move on.

Yours etc

Dolbey Noize-Reduction, Red Barn Lane, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Time for another of my famous “vicar” jokes.

Q – What’s black and white and flat out in the front room?

A – The vicar after taking 23 services, 6 assemblies and visiting 3 nursing homes in the week before Easter!

Yours etc

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby.


Dear Sir

At this glorious Eastertide, I look back with nostalgia to the Trim Valley of my youth. With its undercover badger baiting, cock fighting and owl snatching, the Tremletts were a much livelier place than these days when political correctness has taken over.

In particular, the tradition of “Hunting the Vicar” has almost completely died out. After the end of the fox season, the Trim Hunt used to need a means of keeping the beagles fit. And so from Easter Sunday to Trinity, the tradition was to force the vicar to dress in a fox suit and chase him across Tremlett Hill.

It is believed that the tradition was actually a fertility rite. But we can’t imagine why. The vicar was repulsive. And even in a fox suit, he wasn’t going to attract any vixens.

Ah, the old ways pass away.

Yours etc

Dicky Vickers, Church Rise, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

March 2016 – Letters to the Church Magazine

Dear Sir

I hear that the Vicar is planning to let the Youth Group lead a service next month. This is a sign that we have a vibrant, successful youth policy which is showing real results in allowing our young people to grow in the faith and become active members in the church.

I fear this. What happens if, instead of the vicar’s normal anecdotes about being at college with Rowan Atkinson and quotations from the poet Keats, we suddenly have to deal with people quoting Snoop Diggy Dogg and expecting people to be twerking? Neither I, nor my wife, have ever twerked.

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Liberalism has crept into every corner of the Church. We have had women bishops, nudist bishops, gay vicars and “Lord of the Dance”. But nothing had prepared me for this.

While she was preaching last week, I noticed that Revd Joanne has a distinct London accent. She dropped at least three “h”s and, on at least two occasions, employed a glottal stop.

This is no longer the Church I grew up in, when vicars do not have to observe the decencies of employing a faintly ridiculous “posh” voice. The vicar of Great Tremlett, Father Gerome, in 1962 adopted such a plummy pronunciation that on one occasion he dislocated his jaw during the “Nunc Dimmittis”. This sort of dedication is no longer found, I am afraid to say.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I dropped into the Great Tremlett Bell Ringer’s meeting last week.

Just a load of people in sweaters, ringing bells. That’s all  it was. I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

Last week, due to a terrible mix-up with the dosage of my usual pills, I was awake throughout the entirety of the vicar’s sermon.

Absolutely dreadful, it was. I now understand why Major Dumpling is such an avid user of unusual chemicals. Why does everybody else put up with it?

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I was, along with the other Church Wardens in the deanery, delighted to receive an invitation to the enthronement, emplacement and inculcation of the new vicar of Wittering-in-the-Clumps. However I was shocked to discover that the clergy were invited to attend in “Choir Dress”.

If the vicars all go around pretending to be the choir, how can we tell which is which?

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

Once again the Junior Church teaching material has let me down. The children were far too interested, I thought, in the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. And that was before Revd Joanne popped in with her “surprise” delivery of Crispy Creme Donuts.

For ten minutes all was quiet. And then there was a sound like a rushing wind. And the next thing I knew, the Sunday Club was scouring the lanes around the Tremletts searching for Methodists. A terrible, terrible sight.

I realise these more problematic texts are part of the original Bible – but surely in these more tolerant days it might be better if we quietly left them out?

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I am now into the 9th week of eating nothing but Creme Eggs. People told me this would have a bad effect on my physical, and possibly even mental, health. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were all just blue meanies. Apart from the Vicar. He’s a real nowhere man.

I am the eggman.
I am the eggman.
I am the walrus.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I have just moved back into my old cottage.Nine months of living in a caravan, frequently being turned upside down by drunks, surrounded by pagans and the smell of sweaty archaeologists, are finally over. I am blessed. I have passed, like Joshua, through the desert of the soul without leaving my bones to bleach in the desert.

I shall not, however, rest from my zeal when it comes to fighting the Vicar’s desire to reinstate the so-called “Holy Well” (aka devilish shrine) that was found in the back garden of the New Rectory. I will be standing on my watchtower (the tree house I have put in one of the yews at the bottom of the churchyard) keeping an eye out for anything that looks like heathenism. And I will report the Vicar to the Archbishop if any nude dancing breaks out this summer, like it so manifestly didn’t last year. But if it does, I will not miss it – of that you can be assured.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

It was inevitable, given its name, that candles be burned at Candlemas. But just how many candles are strictly necessary? That is a lot of money we are simply burning.

Given the name, I believe that we could strictly speaking just have the one candle instead of the current riot of candle-lighting that happens every year.

In fact my calculations shows that, if we simply celebrated Candlemas on the 2nd February every year, the decreased attendance would result in a remarkable saving in candle costs over the long run – anything up to £5 a year.

I have of course incurred some expenses related to the purchasing of a 5-year calendar, a Lectionary, and a large number of candles. I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

I notice from the news that leading Politicians are encouraging us all to take part in a “Clean for the Queen” to celebrate her birthday. Here, for instance, is an example. And it has inspired me.

clean for the queen

Michael Gove – “Clean for the Queen”

It has inspired me to reproduce this picture as a poster and nail them up all over the  Trim Valley. We must never allow this man into our village.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

Girlfriend in a coma. I know, I know.

It’s really serious.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

Unfortunately we have had to cancel the Ladies’ Bright Hour again. It turned out they weren’t as bright as the name implied.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

After a strangely mixed winter – warm for so long, but with some welcome frosts at the end – now spring is arriving! I have created the following poem to mark the arrival of the season.

SPRING IN THE TRIM VALLEY

The morning mist lifts from the fields
The new-fledged Sun with warmth reveals
The nestlings chirping in the sun
To receive a worm or bug from Mum.

The valley rings with spring-time sounds
The Easter beating of the bounds
The brook rolls down towards the stream
But somewhere off I sense a scream

Of terror as the hedgehog mild
Is faced with badgers, fierce and wild
And rolling to a ball’s no help
The badger’s claws make the hedgehog yelp

But running from old Brock’s not great
When dashing cross the road so straight
Instead of claws, a lorry and a
quick death ‘neath a Fiat Panda.

Death death death death
Death death death death.

Wishing everybody a happy Easter.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Febuary 2016 – Letters to the Church Magazine

Dear Sir

The “Peace” continues to be a menace.

If I am expected to go around the Church, wishing people well when in fact I don’t like them,  it makes me a hypocrite. Even when, due to my new electric overcoat, they are no longer trying to give me hugs.

I now have had some cards printed. They say “although I probably don’t wish you actual physical harm, I would prefer not to exchange any physical contact. Please stay at a distance of at least four feet”. I find that, since I have been handing them out on the end of the church’s historic Civil War halberd, my personal space is being respected.

I would like to apologise to Revd Joanna, however. When she poured the water out into the font for baptism last week – who would have thought my overcoat would “arc” like that?

Yours etc

Shaz Smash, “Lemony Grove”, The Snicket, Woodby


Dear Sir

Due to a clash with the annual Long-Playing Record Sale, this year’s Pancake Party will be held on Ash Wednesday at 6.30. This does clash with the Ashing Service but, let’s face it, when there’s movable events in the Liturgical Calendar, something’s gotta give.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House.


Dear Sir

Our toddlers group, “Trim Valley Angels”, has been renamed to “Little Fiends.” After the incident with Reverend Nathan and the miniature “Frozen” character, it seemed more appropriate. It is good to see however that the local NHS has a crack team of nasal surgeons.

Yours etc

Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby


Dear Sir

There have been complaints that I have asked the Electoral Roll officer, Elsie Meaux, to step down after 56 years of faithful service. But in the end, I am afraid it was inevitable.

I have often wondered how Little Tremlett – a village of approximately 400 souls – could possibly have an Electoral Roll six times that in size. And after persuading Elsie to allow me to transcribe her hand-written Roll onto the computer I discovered why.

Elsie is a kindly soul, who has never regarded somebody moving away from the parish, or never attending worship, as a reason to take them off the Roll. She sees it as a pastoral thing – by being on the Roll, even if they never come to the church (even, indeed, if they are not even aware they are on it) she feels she is keeping them within the fold.

However I now discover that Elsie has been similarly pastoral with people who have passed on. Even when people have died, she has not removed them. Indeed, Elsie has continued to re-enter them on the Roll when creating the new rolls every six years.

In fact, when I compared the Roll with the church register of deaths and the headstones in the graveyard, I discovered that a large proportion of the Little Tremlett Electoral Roll had died in the 19th Century. I do indeed believe in the “Communion of Saints”, but this is taking pastoral care beyond the pale – or, indeed, the veil.

I have therefore asked Chantry Spokes, our new Electoral Roll officer, to remove any member of the congregation who is no longer with us. Our revised Electoral Roll now stands at 28 people. Which will make it much easier to check at the APCM, but means people praying for the departed on Sundays will need to make a new list.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, The New Rectory, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

After great personal and spiritual struggle, I agreed to have a so-called “Android Tablet” installed for Christmas. It has a remarkable feature called “email” whereby the Royal Mail can put letters straight into the device, rather than through my letter box.

However last week I received a communication through the device from the Vicar, asking for a reply. I toyed with the idea of putting the tablet into an envelope and posting it, but wondered if Revd Nathan would know that my password is “password”. I would not want to tell him using the telephone – you cannot be too careful these days.

At about 4am, I came to the conclusion that it was probably possible to send an email to the vicar, from the device itself. I therefore called him to ask him what his email address was, and if I wanted to send him a reply what should I do with the tablet?

I was surprised by his answer. It turns out that it is not actually a tablet! In fact, it might better be called a ” Suppository”.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again we are wasting money in a most shocking way. I watched as a Warden used a taper to light both acolytes’ candles on the Sunday after Christmas. It is plain that, to preserve the taper, only the first candle need be lit from it. After that, the second candle can be lit from the first.

I have calculated that this simple money-saving method would make the average taper last approximately twice as long. However this was a rough calculation, and therefore I will not be submitting an invoice.

Yours etc.

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

The papers are full of the suggestion that we should “fix” Easter to a date in mid-April.
This would be a great asset to me in my forecasting of expenses for the post-Christmas and Lent season.

Every year on New Years Day, I buy enough boxes of Creme Eggs to last me until the hot cross buns are officially eaten on Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately I tend to eat the entire set in early January, and have to do it all again. And again.

If Easter were the same Sunday each year, I could simply put in a repeat order with Tremlett Stores, to be delivered every week-end for the appropriate 19 weeks each year. This would then remove the frenzy whereby I visit the Stores each Saturday, buy eighteen boxes of creme eggs and a couple of bottles of Tizer, and am found shouting about badgers in the churchyard early on Monday morning.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again Candlemas is upon us. And we have the same old readings about Simeon and Anna.

Did Jesus not do anything else as a child? Surely there must be some Gnostic Gospel we could use for a bit of variety? What was he like at school? Was he particularly good at RE, despite his habit of describing the events in Genesis in the First Person? Did he climb trees? Really, Vicar – get your act together and fill in the gaps!

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his post-Christmas vacation. And the people of Great Tremlett were so happy to use the Sarum Rite again – although attempting this at Grilsby-on-the-Hill nearly got me handed into the New Model Army as a suspected Papish.

I did miss out on Evensong at Woodby on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. A very strange event indeed. I was just about to leave the Old Vicarage when two figures appeared round the side of my house, a large sack fell on my head, and I was bundled into a van and driven to Ramsgate.

Thankfully I had my credit card with me and was able to purchase a train ticket to Banbury. Although of course by this time on a Sunday it was an overnight trip, and I eventually arrived home at 2am.

Still, I am glad that the Reader, Doreen, was able to step in for me at the last moment – and conveniently had a sermon for the Sunday after Epiphany with her! I am glad she had her blue scarf returned as one of the miscreants who kidnapped me had clearly also stolen it.

Yours etc

Canon Vyvyan Westcliffe (Retd) (But still available for occasional offices), The Old Vicarage, Woodby