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

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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