Letters to the Church Magazine – July 2015

Dear Sir

Today I attended, for the first time, the meeting of the Ladies’ Group in Great Tremlett Church.

Imagine my disappointment to discover that not one of them is a member of the aristocracy, and only the Vicar’s wife could even remotely qualify for the term “Lady” due to her connection with the clergy.

I shall be speaking to my father, and asking him to instruct the Vicar to rename this the “Women’s Group”. At least this would be accurate.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

As the members of the congregation will know, I have been boycotting services at St Mary’s Church since the reordering of the third pew from the front. My grandfather sat in that pew, and he would never have approved of a kneeler with a rainbow on it. If he knew what rainbows mean in the 21st Century, obviously. My grandfather, in his innocence would unwittingly have approved, thinking it was merely a depiction of Noah’s Ark – fooled by the image of Noah, the dove and the Ark. They were simpler times.

However I have taken to hiding in the shadows at the back of the Church in lieu of attending the services. Last week, the Vicar came in to say Evening Prayer and was the only one present (Mrs Munchley was at the doctors, I discovered later when listening at her wall, though I cannot find out where Mr Cheese was. He normally attends on Wednesdays as it gives him enough time to drop in before dinner). So, believing that he was on his own, the Vicar omitted to bow to the altar.

I am shocked. I had always imagined that the Vicar is simply “pretending” to be an Anglo Catholic when he is Great Tremlett. I insist that the Church Wardens install a webcam immediately. They can then check the recordings for any more liturgical outrages at their leisure.

Yours etc

Sibelius Bunce, Cold Lane, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

Can I congratulate the editor on the inspired new format of the magazine! I don’t know whether it is the ink or the paper, but it smells fantastic. I have volunteered to deliver the August edition to all the houses in the village. However could you bring them around a day or two early. I plan to spend a couple of days with them in my bath.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I see that the Vicar has not listened to my warnings regarding St Mary’s Well, which he discovered while gardening in May.

Noticing that he has indeed engaged a team of archaeologists from “Anglian Archaeology” to excavate the stonework, I proceeded immediately to the diocesan offices to demand that the Registrar put a stop to this: on the grounds that the vicar had no faculty; that he was encouraging Papish superstition; and that, should he discover shale oil, he might start fracking.

Unfortunately the Registrar was on holiday. But I have now received a letter telling me to “put a sock in it, you silly man”. Admittedly this is from my wife, who is suing me for divorce, and not the Registrar. But the sentiment seems very clear nonetheless.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Fifth Sundays are normally a time of great solace and refreshment for me. Since there is an “Everybody Together” service at one of the five churches in the benefice, I just stay in bed. Gives the car a rest, as well.

The August service, however, is at Grilsby on the Hill. And, as Church Warden, Treasurer, and Lay Reader, I really ought to attend. But the Vicar has this odd rule that each parish must make its own contribution. Hence, on the last three occasions, the music group from Little Tremlett has played a medley of “Lord of the Dance” and “Shine, Jesus, Shine” on recorders and piano accordion.

I have contacted the music group leader at Little Tremlett,  Miss Dorothea Naysayer, formally to request that the group refrains from disturbing the peace in this way. I have received no such assurance.

I must therefore inform you that Grilsby on the Hill is at war with Little Tremlett.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Deaf Sid

I am pleated to felt you that, Arthur fears of being a technophone, my nice Anaemia has bought me a phobe for my broth day.

So this moth I can sand you my litter via the Outlook Oxbridge Emily progress!

It is a very clover smirk foam. It even has auto corrupt.

I am going to oose it to reed the Church wobble sight. Just as spoon as I switch on 5g or whiffy!

Ursa etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett

(Editor’s note – the email actually was actually signed “Chelsea Patterson, Wallet Grave, Litter Trembles. I am guessing that, as Chesney posted his phone through the door, he still hasn’t worked out how to use the WiFi. Or, probably, bought a modem.)


Dear Sir

I have a dream, a song to sing

To help me cope with anything.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

I regret to inform you that, at the last general meeting of the Friendship Group, we agreed that we actually didn’t get on very well at all. So we’ve wound it up. There didn’t seem much point, somehow.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett

Quick Church Warden Joke

Bertie, one of the Wardens up at the church, has a special doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning.

I believe, from what they say in the village, that he must be nearing eighty. Certainly he’s an old boy of Little Tremlett School, which closed its doors back in the forties. Yet he barely looks a day over fifty. They reckon that his remarkable youth is down to his receiving a dose of special “reviving” hormones periodically, which village rumour connects to concepts such as “monkey glands” and “something a civet would rather not live without”.

Anyway, tomorrow he’s off to the doctor’s for his latest dose. Apparently each booster lasts five years. The women at the church refer to it as his “Quinquennial injection”.

Why don’t Pests Eat Weeds?

Why do pests never eat Bindweed?

There’s a lovely crop of bindweed at the bottom of the garden. It would seem the previous occupants thought it was a lovely white flower, and encouraged it. Sure, it’s a pretty enough thing, an attractive climbing flower.. But it’s a vicious strangler of other plants.

Obviously, using the word “vicious” in this instance is an unnecessary anthropomorphism. Bindweed isn’t vicious, any more than it knows it’s pretty. It’s just an effective growing machine that uses its lovely white flower to lure in the unwary gardener – a highly effective evolutionary adaptation in these days when people can’t tell coltsfoot from dandelions..

This excursion into the world of the pathetic fallacy was really inspired, however, by the Telegraph article about the chough that fostered another bird’s chicks. The Telegraph article referred to the bird having a “pang of guilt” after killing the chicks’ father. If choughs really do have guilty feelings, then logically we need to consider extending our laws to cover the crow family, and putting the bird on trial for murder. As clearly if it can feel guilty it must be a morally responsible – or, in this case, irresponsible – .being. But it’s not. For whatever reason, some instinct drove this chough to look after the orphans. In evolutionary terms, maybe not such a bad thing, as the chicks will be genetically similar to the murderous stepfather.

But I look at the bindweed, growing away there in its offensive and yet innocent way, and hate it. Then I look at the woolly aphids dangling off the apple trees, where the previous owners no doubt thought they’d go for the organic option of simply having no fruit, and think – why can’t woolly aphids eat bindweed? Surely there is no more obvious indicator of the fallen nature of our creation than that woolly aphids leave bindweed alone, and prefer eating apple trees? I’m just surprised it wasn’t mentioned in Genesis 3. Again, I don’t blame the aphids – I just hate them.

Of this, then, I am sure. In the New Jerusalem, aphids will eat bindweed and the good members of the crow family will go on to eternal life.

Protecting Traditional Marriage

I went for a bit of a wander up to Grilsby-on-the-Hill when I found I was locked out of Evensong on account of not being in the right village. But the good news is – “The Quiet Woman” is open of a Monday evening. I popped in for a quick blackberry Pimms, prior to walking back down the hill, and listened in to the local chat.

“Gozzer” was defending, in the face of the current legislation, the idea of “Traditional Marriage”. Obviously, this was Traditional Marriage as defined in Grilsby-on-the-Hill. Where it turns out that the definition of Traditional Marriage is as follows:

  1. The Young Folk concerned run out into the meadows on a balmy evening in June (or, as it may be, July)
  2. The Young Woman concerned becomes concerned.
  3. The Father of the Young Woman becomes concerned, and checks that the Traditional Shotgun still works.
  4. The parents of the Young Man concerned become concerned, and phone the vicar.
  5. The White Wedding is hastily arranged.
  6. It is followed 7 months later by the Unusually Large Allegedly Premature Child.
  7. Tradition is satisfied, and everything goes on as normal

It all seems a bit stressy to me, but I suppose that tradition is important. And, of course, it does supplant the Traditional Marriage they used to have around these parts, which used to involve assessing the maiden’s eligibility according to the number of heifers she was worth. Not all progress was bad.

The Long Bright Monday Afternoon of the Soul

Great Tremlett’s a quiet place on a Monday. At least in Husborne Crawley there’s the constant roar of the M1 and the folk heading to the Safari Park.

Obviously, quiet’s good. Quiet is, after all, what I’ve been after.

The “Hanged Man” is  closed all day Monday. The shop shuts at 2, and there’s nothing going on at the Village Hall until, as far as I can tell, Lammas. The sun’s beating down on the roundabout in the centre of the village, and just sand and dust on the road – no cars till the school run starts.

Still, the Great Tremlett fete is due in a couple of weeks. And I’ve yet to work out when all the other villages are holding theirs. Rumour has it that Grilby-on-the-Hill was a couple of weeks back, as the feuds are settling down now.

I’d go out and have a walk in the countryside, but it’s too darn warm. So instead I’ve  settled back into reading Allan Chapman’s Slaying Dragons. As a source of information on the true relationship of Science and Religion, it’s pretty good. Unfortunately I’m not getting through it as quick as I can, as there’s just a certain level of Dawkins-style snarkiness in there, which I don’t enjoy from either of them. On the bright side, the level of name-dropping is far lower than in The God Delusion.