Letters to the Church Magazine: October 2016

Dear Sir

In retrospect, I over-reacted last Saturday when the Scouts were doing their charity fancy dress car-wash outside Spar.

When driving out of the car park of a shop in a small town, one does not expect to see a scoutmaster and somebody dressed as Iggle Piggle looming up and pointing at one’s windscreen. And I panicked.

In my defence, I only drove as far as Banbury before the scoutmaster fell off the bonnet. However “Iggle Piggle” trapped his arm in the windscreen wiper. It was only when his head fell off in Stow that I realised it was Revd Nathan.  I hope the vicar had a pleasant walk home from Bourton on the Water. I believe “Birdland” is quite nice. But after that shock, there was no way I would offer him a lift back.

Yours etc

Constanza Nearby, “Donebloggin'”, Woodby


Dear Sir

The vicar hung his jacket on a different hook in the vestry last week.

Surely this needed a faculty?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

There’s sex all over the place these days. On the TV, in the papers, in the Bible, on the Internet, in “Bare-bum Spinney” – all over. And yet the Church continues to conduct weddings. Surely this is just encouraging them.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

Maybe I should not have attended the Pet Service. Mrs Dumpling, after all, has always advised me that one should never work with vicars or animals.

I was in a slightly mystical state, having eaten 4 jars of chilli jam that I won at the Harvest Auction of Produce the previous day. And in the event watching Mrs Bramley’s goldfish swimming in circles left me in a kind of trance. Halfway through “If I were a Butterfly” I became convinced I was, in fact, the relevant animal in each line.

I admit that, in a service attended by many small mammals, hopping around the church in the manner of a kangaroo was a mistake.

The joke I made to lighten the mood may not have helped. Asking Jerome whether he was from “HamsterJam” was tactless.

I have offered to buy Jerome a new hamster. But he just tells me “Hammy was special”.

Yours etc

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

 

Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my typo in last month’s magazine where we were intending to advertise a “Mothers’ Union” meeting. The results of an unfortunate autocorrect, I expect.

In the event, it was a surprise and yet in an odd way quite touching to see all the onions that the mothers brought along to the church.

Quite brought a tear to my eye.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, the Rectory, Gt Tremlett

 

Dear Sir

Late September and once again we had a Harvest Festival. Did we not do this last year? These trendy special events are ruining the Church I grew up in.

If this kind of thing continues, Luther will have won.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

An early advert for our special event at the end of the month.

The coven will meet on the long barrow on Tremlett Tump at 10.30 as usual. Then process to Hangman’s Copse where we will dance naked. Weather permitting. In case of frost or rain we will use the Village Hall. The old arthritics don’t cope with the bad weather these days.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Some girls are bigger than others.

Some girls are bigger than others.

Some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

Time for another of my famous “vicar” jokes.

Q – What do you call a female vicar who’s accidentally fallen into an open grave at a funeral?

A – Anything you like like. She’s going to have other things on her mind.

Yours etc

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby


Dear Sir

As the autumn draws in, I felt moved to poetry.

“The Falling Leaves”

The conkers lying on the ground

So shiny, brown, and nearly round

The squirrels search them swiftly out

To hide them in some hole, no doubt

But then when winter’s time has come

The stupid beasts can’t even find one

So, tumbling from the homely tree

They die, exhausted, on the ley.

And, as the wind the branches weaves,

They’re buried ‘neath the falling leaves.

Death death death

death death death

death death death.

The falling leaves.

Death.

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine – September

Dear Sir

I refer to the recent PCC meeting, in which it was revealed that £74.22 was spent on cleaning and refurbishment of choir robes this May.

I have personally always saved the church money by carrying out repairs and laundering my own robes. However after 38 years in the choir I feel I can no longer carry the financial burden. 

I therefore enclose an invoice for £92.89. It has been a hard month.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester Street

Dear Sir

I hear the Fresh Expressions group have suggested we might have a C!own Service.

Clowns in the Church? Don’t make me laugh.

Yours etc

Burlington O’Brien, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett 


Dear Sir

I have played the song back repeatedly. And done extensive research. And there is no doubt about it.

The sea creatures mentioned in the B52s’ “Rock Lobster” sound nothing like they do in the song.

What does the Archdeacon plan to do about this?

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

The Cholmondley-Cholmonley family have owned Cholmondeley Manor for three hundred years, ever since Sir Charlton “Chummy”  Cholmondley-Cholmonley won the old place in a game of cards from Sir Robin Lighteley-Mincing.

And yet I find I am not allowed to prevent the villagers from watching Channel Four. Truly Bin Laden has won.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I noticed that, during the summer months, Reverend Joanna gave up wearing the chasuble due to the heat. As a result, in that rather well-cut cassock-alb, I think it is true to say her gracious movements lit up our ancient old building’s time-honoured liturgies.

My wife says please could she not do that again. 

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

At this start of the Methodist year, when so many Methodist ministers are moving to new locations, let us spare a thought for these closest of our relatives in the Church family.

I mean. Imagine being a Methodist. Dreadful.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

Some have objected to the suspension of the Sunday Club during the vacation. But I needed a break after the previous 44 weeks of unbroken teaching.

44 weeks. Every week knowing that, whatever craft activity I devise, Liam will eat it. Removing glue from Chardonnay’s hair every week. Aaron throwing glitter over Samanfa. Every week. For 44 weeks.

Sunday Club will restart on the second Sunday of September. I’m really looking forward to a new year of fun, games and activities!

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

A flutter of excitement last month as a pigeon found itself trapped in St Audrey’s. A charming little fellow. And such a to-do as the parishioners wondered how best to remove it! A net, luring it with corn? Just leaving the door open? We even made the local news!

Eventually I decided I should act for the community. I give no details. But people said they enjoyed that pie at the church bring n share picnic.

I’ll say no more.

Yours etc

The “Masked Avenger”


Dear Sir

As Harvest comes round, people often wonder what to do with the surfeit of pumpkins that are donated to the Festival. We give away some of our food offerings to the food bank, of course, but most poor people could not eat a whole one.

And many find pumpkin a bland food! But fear not – here is the Dumpling family recipe, passed down through many generations.

Ingredients: 1 large pumpkin; 400g strong white flour; 2 red onions; 4 potatoes; 1 red chilli; 1 bottle Madeira wine; 1pt chicken stock; salt and pepper to taste.

Step 1: Drink the Madeira

Step 2: Wonder what you did with the other ingredients.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I regret to announce that the autumn Bible Study course has been cancelled. It clashed with the Trim Valley Morris Men.

I don’t mean the two groups were scheduled for the same time. I mean they literally clashed. Blood all over last year’s Spring Harvest study notes. Terrible.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Already the nights draw in and we think of the ingathering of first fruits, roads choked with combine harvesters and the gentle bubbling of homemade wine..

“A Victorian Harvest in the Trim Valley”

The setting sun o’er Chapel Wood

Sets the fields glowing in golden haze

The villagers still barley mow

In these so-shortening autumn days.

The apples, green and red, hang sweet

And soft, before first frosty breath,

Are chestnuts, brown as the labourers’ arms

And bejewelled berries, black as death.

Death death death

Death death death death death

Death death death

Death death

Death.

Wishing you all a mellow and fruitful harvest tide.

Yours etc

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

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

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

January 2016 Letters to the Church Magazine

Dear Sir

Surely nobody can have missed the significance that the flooding of our green and pleasant land last week started in Hebden Bridge – the Lesbianism Capital of Yorkshire – and then impacted Manchester – the home of the “Madchester” scene that featured people being drunk and enjoying themselves.

In previous years, the flooding has impacted Somerset – where the inhabitants are notoriously out of their tiny minds on scrumpy cider every night – and, in 1998, Northamptonshire – the home of the shoemaker’s factory on which the film “Kinky Boots” was based.

Could the message be more clear? The vicar must, in his sermons in the new year, condemn the following groups – or more flooding will inevitably follow.

  • Gays
  • Muslims
  • Gay Muslims
  • Transvestites
  • People who have trouble accepting the unity of the book of Isaiah
  • Giles Fraser
  • People who were on the “Madchester” scene
  • People who are still on the “Madchester” scene because they have not yet noticed that it is over
  • JD Weatherspoons
  • Channel 4
  • Cider drinkers
  • Druids
  • Gay cider-drinking muslims
  • The quiz show “Pointless”, which accepts people even if they are in the groups above
  • The Hoverboarding Priest
  • Nuns
  • Hipsters
  • The Environment Agency
  • Hoverboarding clown priests playing banjoleles.

However having seen the Hoverboarding Priest has given me one idea as to how Revd Nathan could immeasurably brighten up the typical Sunday service. He could move to the Philippines.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I note that once again Revd Nathan is not in the New Year’s Honours List, or even on the blogger Cranmer’s list of people in the news.
What is the Vicar doing? I insist that he denies the existence of God, or starts a campaign of some kind, immediately.

I would like to congratulate Mildred Gussett, who received a mention in the paper. Mildred has cleaned the Lower School for the last 60 years, started the food bank and does the shopping for all the people in the village who are housebound. Last year she repointed the West Wall with lime mortar to the traditional formula, having mined the lime herself from the original quarry.

I would recommend her to the New Year’s Honours List, but if she had to go up to London to collect an award that would take her away from relining my chimney.

Yours etc

Gabrielle Fitch Thompson, the Old Market House, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I have been watching attentively the row of coniferous trees that have been planted along the northern edge of Gt Tremlett churchyard.

This time last year I warned that, as the north side of the church is accursed, they would never thrive.

Turns out that, with the mild and wet conditions we have experienced this year, they have actually done really well.

You live and learn.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Since her announcement, we haven’t seen as much of the nudist bishop as I expected.

Once again, the Church of England fails to deliver.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

Was it my imagination, or was the order of service for the carol service at “Great” printed on recycled paper, with a sans serif font? Surely a holy celebration such as this deserves a fine, white paper and a decent serif. I myself prefer a classic Times New Roman, although I know that some people these days prefer the trendier “Alegreya”.

The Prophet Malachi would have had words. And not nice ones.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

He lies on his side – is he trying to hide?
In fact it’s the earth, which he’s known since birth.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

What a lovely Christmas Nativity Play that was! Seeing the little ones so nervous, and yet so proud as they told us the greatest story every told! And what a nice twist – the baby Jesus receiving a Frozen doll along with the more traditional gifts. You have to move with the times, while keeping the important ingredients of the season.

Although I am a regular Christmas attendee, I will certainly be joining the congregation more often in the New Year!

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I had a strange – nay mystical – experience this Christmas. After the traditional Christmas Day repast, washed down with just a pint of the old fine crusted port, I forgot that it was not a Sunday and went back to Church for evensong. The building was still open, and I walked in and sat in my traditional pew. The lights were not on but I assumed that the vicar would be along shortly. So I passed the time by comparing the unique smells of the different hassocks – a pastime that seems to have been forgotten in these cyber-days.

I clearly dozed off and missed the service. But arriving home and checking the  Times, it appeared that four whole days had passed since Christmas. Who knew that the building had the power of time travel?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Whenever my niece kindly shows me the Church Website on her Internet, I notice that it is mostly just service times, what has been happening in the villages, upcoming events and suchlike. Worthy, but dull. Even the detailed description of every stone with mineral content and cutting direction, that I supplied last Christmas, has not been incorporated.

What is really needed is to provide some decent material that will really keep the punters coming. And I think I have just the thing.

I have kept a record of the precise temperature (external, within the church and in the font when relevant), weather conditions and length of sermon at every service in Little Tremlett since 1951. It is gripping reading, and a veritable record of life lived – as it were – on the cutting edge of the church.

10th Jan 1965, for instance, was a mild day if a little drizzly, and the vicar spoke for 17 mins and 42 secs. Which was, as it turned out, his 21st longest sermon of the year (and 185th longest of the decade – his successor tending to a shorter sermon.)

This invaluable record is handwritten in a collection of 64 A4 notepads. I really believe the Webmaster (who, it turns out, is not a Spiderman-type superhero but rather Dora from the corner shop) should transcribe the records into the Internet, to thoroughly shake up its current, rather boring, contents. Since she refuses to do so, I plan to ask the PCC to pass an Act of Attainder.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I was planning to put before next April’s Annual Parochial Church Meeting the full details of how I had cut the parish’s candle expenditure by recycling old candle stubs into full-length candles. This is not an activity to be under-rated, requiring skillful melting, casting and joining. The wicks can be particularly tricky.

To this end, I have been collecting all the candle stubs and half-burnt tea lights from the church’s worship activities, and have been storing them in a large cardboard box ready for my reforming processes. I knew the Christmas festivities, with their gratuitous use of candles, would fill the box nicely. So imagine my shock to discover that the Vicar had taken the entire box down to the landfill site to “tidy up the vestry”.

Naturally I dived headfirst into the skip where the vicar had thrown the candle stubs, and retrieved the box. However, as I took the box back to my car, I was apprehended by the workers at the so-called recycling centre. Apparently it is against the by-laws to retrieve materials that have been dumped. I subsequently spent an unpleasant afternoon at the magistrates court being fined. I believe that, given my good intentions, the vicar and PCC should recompense me for my inconvenience, and for the extra-strong soap I needed to buy to remove the smell of the chicken droppings into which the candles had been thrown.

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

On 25 December, the daffodils in my garden came into flower. I do not believe this has happened before, and I consider it likely to be due to a spell having been cast.

However when I phoned the Vicar at 3pm to insist he come straight round to exorcise my garden, he told me to not be so bloomin’ silly, it was a warm month.

Even now, three days on, the Vicar has not made the time to visit. I have resorted to cutting the daffs to the ground, to try to nullify their evil powers.

Is this the kind of service from the Established Church that I pay my taxes for?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I note that the Vicar included in his prayers, alongside those for the Queen, the Prime Minister and other godly people, the petition that God should “guide the opposition in constructive criticism of the Government”.

This is the kind of wild Trotskyite behaviour we have now come to expect. The Revolution has come to Woodby by stealth, in the form of our Red Vicar.

I have written to the bishop, but his reply was “please do not write this kind of drivel to me again.” So I have written to the Pope. So far, he has not replied.

Yours etc

Mary England,  Carstairs House, Woodby

 

October 2015

Dear Sir

I would like to clarify what happened last week in the incident that has become known as the “Fist of Peace”.

I wish my fellow-Christians peace. I am happy to respond to the words “Peace be with you” with the words “And also with you”. I would prefer “and with your spirit”, as that keeps it on a spiritual plane without any implication that we need to worry about the peace of people’s bodies and minds. Don’t bear thinking about, bodies.

But I object to people running around shaking hands, or attempting to hug other people. Especially when the “other people” include me. That is why I have taken to wearing a sweatshirt bearing the logo “Exchange the Peace? No thanks!” on both front and back.

But despite the sweatshirt, and the badge saying “I do not shake hands”, and the “All I am saying is give no Peace a chance” hat, somebody still marched up to me and held out their hand to share the Peace. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting introvert would do in these circumstances. I punched him in the eye.

I do not understand how, when my personal space was so clearly violated – against my clearly-stated wishes – suddenly it is I who have “problems”. I do not see why I have to be grateful to Mr Myles for not pressing charges when he returned from A&E. And I certainly do not intend to pay for the repair of the churchwarden’s wand that I smacked him over the head with. The churchwardens have another wand – if they’re as magical as they think, they can cast a spell to fix the broken one.

I would like to stress that I will not be avoiding Church on Sunday. I will be there, in the same pew as normal. Wearing a large cardboard box and carrying a taser. I expect there to be no more trouble.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

A short-term respite from the idolatry at the so-called “holy well”? I thought so, but I was, needless to say, sadly disappointed.

The archaeologist leading the dig told me that, with the oncoming autumn, it was going to be necessary to “put the lid” on the dig until the sun returns next May. The water level is, apparently, too high for archaeological activity.  And so I was glad to see his irreligious, atheistical bottom removed from the site.

But I fear he has done enough damage already. A group of new-age “pagans” have decamped into the garden and, living in a teepee next to my caravan, are disturbing my early morning sleep with songs to the goddess Diana.

I believe that, in good weather, they may dance naked in the dews of dawn. It has not happened yet, but I keep an eye out just in case.

Disgusting.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity Caravan”,  The back garden of New Rectory, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

The Autumn Fayre was held this year on 19th September. This is clearly in Summer, but I will let that pass. We already had that fight at the PCC and it is safe to say there are families in the valley that won’t be forgetting what happened for the next few centuries.

I’m pleased to inform you that the Fayre raised £244, a dozen conkers, a squirrel and an old bloke called Jerome. If anyone wants Jerome can you please come and collect him? He has already eaten the squirrel.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House.


Dear Sir

Once again the Mothers’ Union had an animated discussion at our September meeting. Our new member, Stephanie, failed to understand the concept of “Mothers’ Union”, and asked whom we had recommended for the Labour leadership. When she then found out that we were not paid for our jam-making for the forthcoming Advent Sale, she demanded we went on strike to demand a Living Wage.

I would like to apologise to the Vicar for our inability to check Stephanie’s over-exuberance. After she called him a “scab” during the monthly Morning Prayer and Coffee, she went out and threw red paint at the vicarage. However the good news is that, having done some calculations, she worked out that Rev Nathan is actually paid, at an hourly basis, less than the Minimum Wage.

As I write these lines, I am aware that Stephanie is currently chained to the railings of the Bishop’s Palace. I am really considering whether it is time to disband the branch, and join the Women’s Institute.

Yours etc

Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby


Dear Sir

Once again I am disappointed in the Church Website. I typed in the URL but the site was dark, with no discernible writing. My nephew tells me this is because I have not plugged the computer into the mains, and that in any case I have no WiFi. Well, this is true. My Wifey left me a few years ago after I could not agree to her suggestion that we buy a non-stick frying pan. They tell me that it was the American space programme that invented non-stick pans, and I did not want to run the risk of attracting the attention of the CIA. And what sort of spelling is “WiFi”? These modern modernists may enjoy their alternative spelling, but it is just posing as far as I am concerned. She will always be “Wifey” to me. Or, at least, she was.

I went to bring this up with our Social Medium, Doris. But the moment she opened the door and saw it was me, she said “You’re going to come up with some stupid complaint about the website, aren’t you?”

I think she may have psychic powers.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Every Christmas, we have a new real Christmas Tree. Every year. A nice big one – costing anything up to, I estimate, £74.22. And every year on Twelfth Night we throw it into the hedge behind the North Wall. I do not believe the Church of England has produced an authorised liturgy for this activity but it would be nice if they did. However, I digress.

How do we prevent this annual waste of money?  My theory is that we could buy a living tree in a pot, and then tend it through between Christmases. In theory for the purchase of one tree up front, we could save money – and the tree become more impressive – every year. But could we get the trees through six weeks in the relative darkness of the church and then the following summer each year?

To this end, I bought a Christmas Tree last advent, kept it in a shed until Twelfth Night to simulate the “standing in the church” experience, and then tended to it in the allotment. I regret to say that, in the extended period of high pressure at the end of September, I was on holiday and it died. Obviously this is a risk every year – who can guarantee a safe summer for a tree every year? and therefore I conclude that we should not try this approach.

Naturally I suffered some expenses in the purchase and tending of a living tree. 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

Once again the shops are full of Christmas produce! But after my mistake last year with buying mince pies too early, I was not going to fall for it again.

Instead I bought all the chocolate oranges. The entire shelf full – they were 20% off. And I was fortunate in this respect when, returning to “Rodney’s Rest” last Sunday after enjoying the afternoon in the Hanged Man, I discovered I had no other food in the house.  So I settled down to a simple repast of chocolate oranges and creme de menthe.

In retrospect, the fourth orange was a mistake. I spent the rest of the evening convinced I was a chair – which caused a great deal of confusion at Evensong when, I regret to say, I was very offended that Mrs Saint insisted on using a pew instead.

My sweat has smelled of orange essence ever since the occasion, and I am attracting wasps. I am afraid I will have to avoid church until my leaves have dropped.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

A Michaelmas Service again? I am sure we had one of these last year. This appears to be becoming a bit of a habit.

I was a sergeant in the Air Cadets. We would have stopped this kind of rot.

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 vacation. And the people of Great Tremlett were so happy to use the Roman Missal again.

I did miss out on Evensong at Grilsby-on-the-Hill on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. A very strange event indeed. I was just about to leave the Old Vicarage when I received a phone call. A muffled-sounding voice claiming to be “a Churchwarden” informed me that there was no point in coming out for the service, as the boiler in the church had exploded, burning down the church.

I did ask whether I could help in any way – by consoling the no-doubt distraught parishioners who had lost their much-loved place of worship. But the caller told me that the woods had caught fire and melted the road, and there was no way through. So I settled down to a quiet evening and said the Evening Office in my parlour – remembering the sad events at Grilsby in particular.

Imagine my surprise in the morning when I discovered that the road to Grilsby was open, and – on driving up to Grilsby – that the church was standing. I was pleased, but baffled.

Catching up with one of the Churchwardens, I discovered that neither of them were admitting to the phone call. Fortunately, however, the Reader, Doreen, had happened to be at the service, and was able to lead the service and preach a sermon in my absence. How fortunate that she happened to have a sermon that fitted with the text – which was especially fortunate as I was preaching from the 1873 lectionary. And how blessed they were that she should have been there – when normally she worships at Little Tremlett!

I hear there were rumours at the “Blue Bear” that a strange figure had been seen that Sunday afternoon, lurking in the church yard, making a phone call while wrapping the phone in a blue scarf. I am unsure if this were related. If only I knew who was responsible.

Yours etc

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

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