September 2014 – What the Vicar Did on His Holidays

Dear Sir

Mrs Cobley-Anhall and I continue to be disappointed in the new curate, the so-called “Father” Joanna. For example – during Fr Nathan’s holiday this summer, she was unable to conduct any communion services for the entire period. Apparently this was because she is “not a proper priest yet” (my words, not hers). As a result, we have been forced to pay the service fees and expenses for a series of retired priests on two successive Sundays.

Does the diocese know what it is doing? Not only has it sent us a curate who is not a priest, but she is a woman as well. Cranmer has a lot to answer for in my opinion.

Yours etc

Tom Cobley-Anhall, “Tweezers”, Grilsby-on-the-Hill
Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his vacation. And what fun it was, helping the Woodby parishioners to hunt down the old Books of Common Prayer to have a “proper service” as they termed it.

I did miss out on Evensong at Great Tremlett on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. I ended up mysteriously pushed into a freshly-dug grave as I walked across the churchyard. However, I would like to thank the Reader, Doreen, for preaching a sermon in my absence. How fortunate that she happened to have a sermon that fitted with the lectionary on her, when it was announced that I had not arrived! And how fortunate she was at “Great”, when she normally worships at Little Tremlett!

More curious still, it turned out that the deceased parishioner for whom Jeb had dug that grave was in fact still alive – Jeb had dug it when given precise details and the location for the grave by “somebody who caught up with me outside the Hanged Man”, and had simply done as instructed. And how odd that the last thing I saw, as I tumbled into the depths, was the edge of a blue scarf.

I guess we shall never know who was responsible.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

The youth of today! With their iPod Samsungs, Nanopads and 3D Secure Boxes! We from a different generation sometimes wonder if they are totally addicted to electronic devices. And Revd Joanna has not really helped with her “All Age Service” last week. Any young person, seeing the electronic projection of the story of Jonah and the Whale, could become over enamoured of the technology – confusing the flashy, interactive “medium” with the eternal, changeless “message”.

Personally I think the Hymns Ancient and Modern books with which I grew up, and which are still in their shelves waiting to be handed out, are the newest technology we need. Sometimes I like to come into church during the week, just to smell them. If I am in need of extra stimulation, I might rub my face into the bindings.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

The nights are drawing in again, it is true. And extra illumination – especially at the 8am communion service – is once again welcome.

But at what cost? All through the summer – even at 11am services on summer days – we used candles. And they remained lit, not just during processions and the Eucharistic part of the service but also during the sermon and reading of the New and Old Testament lessons and prayers.

I have carried out a number of experiments that indicate that, if we snuffed out the candles just after the inward procession, and relit them from the Gospel onwards, we could save up to £7 per annum. If we follow this to its logical conclusion – we could make the extinguishment of light after the Gospel, but before the sermon, part of the liturgy – we could make an additional £9 per annum saving. Surely this is part of being the good stewards we are required to be!

I should point out that my researches have involved the purchase and use of a large number of candles. I therefore include an invoice to the total of £74.22.

Yours etc

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


Dear  Sir

I would like to draw the benefice’s attention to a shocking fact.

Naturally while the vicar was on holiday I ensured I kept watch on the place. One would not like to see the vicarage burgled, and as it happened I already had my telescope trained in that direction. And Revd Nathan and his family had 2 weeks and 6 days off – allowing the vicar to take the maximum amount of time off with minimum loss of coverage on Sundays.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after only a week they returned! They then proceeded to live a half-life – while still benefitting from provision of the vicarage, they did not attend or lead any of the services in the benefice, and did not respond to any of the 47 phone messages I left. In a fraudulent attempt to avoid responsibility, there was even an “out of daily office” message on the email.

If the vicar and his family are to take time off, I believe they should have a proper holiday. I was looking forward to living in the spare room for the second week. Instead I had to stay at home, where Mrs Bunce is inclined to give me strange looks.

Yours etc

Sibelius Bunce, Cold Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the nights draw in, once again Harvest is upon us.

I had hopes that this year we would not have a repeat of last year’s undignified squabble, when all five parishes insisted on having their Harvest service at 9.30 on the first Sunday in October, and insisted that the vicar attend. That this dispute was only resolved with a punch-up between the Churchwardens of each congregation in the car park of the “Hanged Man” did nothing for our image in the benefice. And the way that Mavis won out for Woodby Chapel End by running over her rivals in her electric buggy was more tragic than comical in my opinion. The locals still talk about the “Geriatric Smackdown”.

So imagine my delight that, this year, each parish will have its own service, on the first Sunday of October. Intelligently, they are scheduled at 2 hour intervals from 8am. This will enable both Revd Nathan and Revd Joanna to be at all of them – and then make the return journey to attend the successive Harvest Dinner and Auctions! Obviously,in her first year, it is important for Joanna to be at all the Harvest events. And, equally obviously, we at Grislby-on-the-Hill will expect Revd Nathan as well. Harvest is the beating heart of rural spiritual practice. We wouldn’t just want the curate.

I shall be at the Woodby Harvest Auction as usual. This year I have been especially successful in the growing of members of the cucurbitae family. I shall therefore be showing off a couple of lovely pumpkins.

Yours etc

Maureen Maurice, “The Old Bakehouse”, Old Red Lion Court, Woodby 


Dear Sir

The Earth pursues its annual track around the Sun, and Mother Nature responds in her ever-changing hues. To celebrate the beauties of the coming of autumn I have written the following poem.

The year is at the turn
And gently trickles down the leys
The brook which hurries to the sea
Between the hedgerow and the trees.

The skeletoned leaf moulders, turns to brown
The worm throws up his mouldy cast
Reminds us of the clay-y tomb
To which we all return at last.

The rabbits gambol on the verge
And to his hide-out crawls the toad
But they won’t make it to the Spring
They’ll all be squashed upon the road.

Or foxes tear them limb from limb
Or kestrels pluck them in their dance
Or they just starve for lack of food
The little ones don’t have a chance.

The fish sink deeper in the mud
To sleep the winter cold away
But thanks to that still-prowling pike,
It’ll ne’er again see light of day.

And what about the gentle doves?
They’re doomed as well.
As darkness falls across the world.
Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!

Wishing you all a gentle and peaceful Autumnal season.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

A note to say how wonderful the effect of the Revd Joanna has been on the parish, and the benefice as a whole, since she joined us. In her youth, her energy, her devotion to Scripture and her pastoral heart, she has been just what we have been needing in the Parish these five years.

On another note, can I congratulate Rev Nathan on his fifth anniversary as vicar.

Yours etc

Dr Jasmine Scotland MD (retd), “Dunphlebbing”, Lt Tremlett