Letters to the Church Magazine: August 2017

Dear Sir

I’d like to thank everybody for their concern, after the news from the BBC, that maybe I don’t get paid as much as Nathan.

This is true, but that is because I am a curate, not because I am a woman. Once I have my own benefice, I will be paid the same as him. And then once I am archbishop, plenty more – and some killer outfits.

Yours etc

Revd Joanna, The Old School House, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

There have been some complaints about the subject matter of the Holiday Club this year already – and it’s barely started!

Many people have complained about the theme: “Nehemiah Rap”. Well, the Holiday Club has been running in the Trim Valley since Fr Jesmond’s time. And all the obvious themes have been done – Noah, Jonah, Moses, Superheroes, Olympics.

So who better to have a week studying than that great hero of the faith, Nehemiah? Especially in these days when “Build a Wall” is such a popular motto!

There have been a few complaints about the bad language, I know. But this is rap, and I felt we should stay true to the form. And if you don’t like it, you can **** my ***, ****** *******.†

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett

† Editor’s note: I felt it best to censor Mr de Sandeman’s more colourful comments. Especially as Romilly, who transcribes the letters onto computer for me, passed out upon reading them.


Dear Sir

As the vicar looks forward to a well earned break for a couple of weeks, can I encourage the more Biblically-minded of our parishioners to join us for our fortnight-long series of daily prayer meetings.

We will be praying for Revd Nathan to receive the gifts of judgement, holiness, preaching and teaching. Or, failing that, for us to receive the gift of a better vicar.

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin’”, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again I look forward to stepping in for Revd Nathan as he takes a couple of weeks off.

Thanks to all those who’ve assisted me in stretching my pension further, by organising weddings or baptisms for these couple of weeks.

I am aware that it is more difficult to plan funerals, but if anyone should be planning a “hit” I’m free on Tuesday 22nd.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

What a joy to see such a traditional wedding at St Mary’s last Saturday.

Young Maisie looked so blooming. And her betrothed, Mason, looked so handsome as he was followed up the aisle by the bride’s brothers with their shotguns.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I went to the Ladies’ Bright Hour last Wednesday.
It wasn’t.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

This month’s church magazine comes out on Lammas Day. In years gone by, the people of the Trim Valley would sacrifice a vicar to give thanks for the barley harvest.

Sadly in modern times the supply of vicars has dried up. So instead we’ll be burning Nathan in effigy at 9pm, in Barebottom Spinney.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I would like to thank all those who attended our annual Cheese Party in aid of church funds.

I am afraid I accidentally placed the order in kilograms rather than ounces. So there was an awful lot of cheese to go round! Especially since, in keeping with Woodby tradition, nobody can go home until all the cheese is eaten.

I am pleased to hear that Henrietta is out of hospital now. But I may never be able to hear the word “cheddar” without breaking out into a cheese sweat, for as long as I live.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

The vicar’s sermon on the wheat and the weeds was brilliant last week – one of his best.

Not as good as any of old Father Jesmond’s, of course. But times change. They used to select clergy based on their intellect, vision and ability to engage with people.

Yours etc

Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

When one is retired, time can hang heavy on one’s hands.

Which is why I have spent the last five years experimenting with breeding a particularly potent variety of catnip. I find that my own three cats do not get as much of a hit from the regular stuff as when they were younger, and I was keen to ensure they get some enjoyment on these long summer days.

The latest batch is, I think I can say, superb. However I had not expected it to be able to bring on such psychotic episodes. So I can only apologise for what “Mountbatten”, “Winston” and “Adolf” did to that Pyreneean Mountain Dog at the Pet Service. I am told that “Rocky” is recovering now, but if it helps I could send him round some of my new catnip?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

In my never ceasing search for ways to save money, I have never resorted to direct action. Until now.

I was shocked by the sight of all the lights in Grilsby Church, blazing out on a Sunday morning when there was perfectly good sunshine. I therefore took the simple action of shooting all the bulbs out with my air pistol.

As a result of this I estimate we saved approximately £1.50 over the course of that Sunday. However I have had to replace all the bulbs since the weather turned cloudy the following week. I therefore enclose an invoice to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I am really quite stunned by Marais de Sandeman’s interpretation of the story of Nehemiah, seen through the lens of 21st Century American Imperialism and the breakdown of the postwar neoliberal consensus.

But I would have to question the use of the song “Another Brick in the Wall” as the theme tune.

Surely Pink Floyd’s 1979 masterpiece is about a broken man, hiding himself from his true feelings and trying to shut others out.

Which I suppose is true of modern America. But Nehemiah’s building of Jerusalem’s big, beautiful walls, and the restoration of Temple worship, was a great thing – a rediscovery of Jewish destiny and identity.

Can I suggest Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” as a superior tune?

When the world is on your shoulder
Gotta straighten up your act and boogie down
If you can’t hang with the feelin’
Then there ain’t no room for you this part of town
‘Cause we’re the party people night and day
Livin’ crazy that’s the only way

Now that’s the Nehemiah I believe in!

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

Bring your daughter, bring your daughter to the slaughter
Let her go, let her go, let her go

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

I have just had a two hour meeting with Dr Ireland to list all of the wrongdoers in the village, ready for our next #TremlettVice Twitterstorm.

However it has just occurred to me that, having spent two hours unaccompanied in the presence of Dr Ireland, we have ourselves just done something that might be regarded as suspect.

What do you advise?

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Apologies for the late cancellation of the Treasure Hunt.

Grilsby Mothers Union say that the chosen date clashed with their dogging night.

I had no idea that they had outings to the greyhounds.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

The fields are ripe unto harvest, and the countryside is covered with fields of gold!

THE HARVEST

A lonely combine mows the leys
Where once, in far-gone golden days
The village-folk to fields would roam
To bring the precious harvest home.

Young men with scythes, young girls with sacks
The strong men carry on their backs
The sheaves unto the threshing floor
They won’t be doing that no more.

The maidens fair; the sunburnt swains
No more they wander down our lanes
Young mothers, children at their breast
They’ve entered in eternal rest.

And Farmer Laidlow, in your cab
You won’t escape this journey drab.
Safe locked away in your tractor bright
You’ll still have to face eternal night.

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

Wishing you the blessings of the harvest

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine: July 2017

Dear Sir

I approve of the Church Council’s decision to grow a wild flower meadow in the older parts of the churchyard. What a great idea! We should respect the environment.

But can they at least cut the grass? It looks very scruffy with all those weeds.

Yours with the anti-histamine,

Germaine Johnson, Garage Lane, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

All the members of the Grinton family have been baptised, married and buried in Great Tremlett Church for the last two hundred years.

We’ve never been to a regular service. What happens?

Yours etc

Kiki Grinton, Shandling Street, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

Once again the traditional Gt Tremlett v Woodby Chapel Choirs tug-of-war competiton ended in a resounding win for the “Tremblers.”

Dear Aggie put up a valiant battle, but against eight strapping tenors and basses she never had a chance and had to be dragged out of the River Trim.

I admire her faith and belief in  a future Renaissance of Woodby Chapel choir music. But maybe Aggie could take a temporary retirement from tug-of-war until the revival actually happens? She is, after all, 93.

Yours etc

Mildred Peabody, Chapel Lane, Woodby Chapel End

Dear Everybody

Please note that from now on, all baptisms at Woodby will be on the 2nd Sunday of the month at 10am. In keeping with church best practice this will be the main church service of the day.

For those who want to avoid baptism parties there will be another service at Woodby Chapel at the same time.

When we trialled this last month the entire regular congregation went to Woodby Chapel. We had to drag Edgar into the car and take him down to Woodby, or we wouldn’t have had an organist.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan



Dear Sir

I went to church last Sunday and was met at the door by someone who smiled, said hello, and gave me the hymn and service books.

I shall never return until this sort of thing stops. I demand my right as an Englishman to attend and go from church without anyone speaking to me or making eye contact.

Yours etc

Archie Tulip, Borough Lane, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Summer is here! And with it a glut of fresh fruit and the earliest vegetables. But what to do with them when they arrive in such abundance?

I found out my great-grandfather’s old book of country crafts and winemaking. What wisdom our ancestors had!

I ate four ounces of those mushrooms that he planted in the cellar in 1884 and I thought I was Father Christmas. Amazing stuff.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I attended the service at St Mary’s last Sunday and I was very disappointed in the changes that have happened since I last attended.

Some of the congregation were not there because they are now dead. And the ones that are left are substantially older than I remember. There were also some children that I did not recognise.

The Alternative Service Books have been removed and replaced with something called Common Worship. And, I regret to say, it is.

Worst, there was a woman called Joanna pretending she was a priest. What have you done with old Canon Westcliffe?

Yours etc

Grimly Ingleton, Furnace End, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

So what have the events of the last month shown us?

A weak leader propped up by divided lieutenants. No clear vision, a lack of energy, and a feeling of foreboding for the future. The rise of a plausible alternative, showing a vision that can inspire the young.

Still, enough of the vicar’s situation. The General Election result was disappointing.

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin”, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

What great kindness of Mrs Slope to donate to the church a new  laptop and data projector – a great aid to the flexibility and family friendliness of our services!

However I have calculated that, used every Sunday for 70 minutes and at Messy Church, the electricity to run them could cost as much as £74.22 per annum.

I have therefore sold them to buy candles.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

I note that the book of this blog, “Writes of the Church: Gripes and Grumbles of the People in the Pews” is now available for pre-order on both Bible Readers’ Fellowship and Amazon.

Obviously, it would be mercenary and blatant to plug it in any way.

Obviously.

Yours etc

Eileen Fitzroy-Russell, The Great House, Husborne Crawley, Beds


Dear Sir

I see that Yoko Ono may be recognised as co-author of the song “Imagine”.

This seems very fair to me, and in keeping with our more equal society.

If she contributed to the dreadful old dirge, she should share the blame.

I plan to have it played at my funeral. I have always hated my family.

Yours etc

Bing Bingley, Maypole Green, Woodby

Dear Sir

Sex on the TV, everybody’s at it.

Your mind gets dirty as you get closer to 30.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Lane, Woodby

Dear Sir

The Vicar’s introduction of Taize music at the 9.15 last week was quite out of place. This is not the Church I grew up in.

If I wanted my worship in a beautiful but dead language, I would go to the 8am BCP Communion.

Yours etc

Shankly Gates, Hill Meadow, Lt Tremlett

Dear Sir

A poem for the holiday season.

Verão

The o’erhead sun in glory shines
enlightening the country lanes
and sweet dog roses’ flow’rs refines
and burns the skins of maids and swains.

And swiftly to the sea they run
from every inland village street
to lie on beaches in the sun
and drink their cheap tequila neat.

Such celebrating youth, ’tis true
is reckless both of sin and age
it celebrates its blessings new
neglecting e’er to turn the page.

And so, mouse-like, the summer hordes
Bowie-unknowing, in the sun
from Ibiza to the Norfolk broads
‘ware not their race will soon be run.

Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death


Wishing all your readers a blessed, if short and soon to turn to autumn, summer.

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine: May 2017

Dear Sir

As the election approaches, I often ask myself the question: how would Jesus vote?

Conservative, obviously.

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

As we enter the Month of Maying, we remember all those that celebrate the start of the summer seasons by casting clouts and disappearing into the woods and fields for a spot of al fresco fornication.

Already this year  I have identified seven such couples, in Barebottom Spinney alone. I have names and photographic evidence posted up in the church porch, and on the Facebook page “Free Tremlett from Sin”.

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin’”, Great 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. How they enjoyed the reintroduction of “singing in tongues”, a rite that has not been used in Grilsby-on-the-Hill since 325 AD.

I did miss out on Evensong at Little Tremlett 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 Boris Johnson, telling me he needed help with designing a special bridge in honour of Joanna Lumley over the river Trim.

I walked down to the spot where he instructed me. And imagine my surprise when I was pushed over, tied up, and stuck in a rubber dinghy. I travelled some considerable distance downstream.

Eventually a punter on the Cherwell near Marston Ferry pulled me out, and provided me with gin at a nearby hostelry. As a result perhaps of these recuperative stimulants, I have rather a hazy recollection of that afternoon’s events. All I remember seeing on that river bank was the flash of what appeared to be a white gown, and a glimpse of the ends of a blue scarf.

I would like to express my thanks to the Reader, Doreen who was coincidentally at Woodby Chapek that evening, with a sermon that, I am told, was completely in keeping with the readings. God is good!

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

A female vicar in Bedfordshire has installed a set of dear little plastic chairs in the Lady Chapel for the children. Apparently she received much approval and just the one complaint.

But all I did was sneak in and install a ball pit, plastic slides and penny arcade in the North Transept. And all of a sudden it’s “sacrilege.”

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I received a bowlful of blancmange, several hundred silver stars and half a pound of red glitter glue in my hair at the Chapel last Wednesday evening.

But when I demanded to know if this was how Messy Church was supposed to be, they told me I had actually wandered into the PCC.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Once again over Easter we had to deal with all the usual questions about whether the Easter Bunny was a spaceman.

Let us be clear. We celebrate Easter in honour of the birth of the Bunny, who flies around the earth scattering his chocolate eggs. If anyone has a Gospel other than this, let them be Anthea.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I would like to complain about the installation of the icon of Our Lady in Woodby church. I know this kind of trendy artwork is popular with so-called modernists. But I find it ruins the traditional look of the place. I go to church for peeling plaster and the smell of damp hymn books – not a numinous experience of being in contact with the Saints.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

Why did the Vicar get so excited on Easter Day?  Ridiculous. Worked the children up to a terrible frenzy with his unlikely claims that Jesus is alive. Put me off my crossword.

Yours etc

Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I used to be worried, when the Vicar was away on his post-Easter rest, that the temporary replacement might preach long, boring sermons. But not anymore.

Now I bring the twelve bore to church, the sermons are guaranteed no more than 5 minutes.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

As treasurer of the parish I am well aware that we are running at a monthly deficit of £74.22. The remedy to this, I was sure, was a set of informative leaflets in the church, explaining the running costs of the diocese, the cost of housing for clergy, and the need for curate training.

I was not expecting the “Grilsby Riots” to break out. I will be frank, I was terrified of the mob of 9 people demanding independence from the Bishop of Banburyshire, that the vicar go out and get a proper job, and that we get a curate who is “intelligent enough to do her own learning”.

In the course of the riot, my front fence suffered an amount of damage.  I therefore enclose an invoice to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

There is some disturbing stuff in the news these days. The shadow of Brexit, as we go to the polls. The nightmare that Jeremy Corbyn might win the election and nationalise my shed to make more jam. The possibility of nuclear war in North Korea, and the ever-present threat that a terrorist might attack Great Tremlett Farmers Market.

And yet that does not justify the Church Magazine completely overlooking the introduction of a new plate into the church hall kitchen. My great-aunt bequeathed her old tea set to the church when she died. If she knew somebody was introducing new crockery in a different pattern, she would turn in her grave. If her ashes had not been fired into space on that rocket.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

Sheena is a punk rocker.
Sheena is a punk rocker.
Sheena is a punk rocker. Now.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

I loathe the tendency of Mavis Flossett and her “Mothers Union” to head for the hills to indulge in pagan rites on supposedly “traditional” holidays. Therefore last night I took steps to prevent their devilish practices – successfully, I have to say.

The claim that neo-pagan practitioners are “peaceful” is clearly a lie. I now have nine angry, naked middle-aged women in a bear pit, and their threats are blood-curdling.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

The Tremlett Photography Club regret to announce they have to disband. The raid by Thames Valley Police was quite a shock. And we’ve no idea what Mildred was doing.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the spring comes in, a reminder of the long-gone traditions of this ancient English landscape.

THE WOLD

The gentle curve of a limestone wold
From Mother Nature’s womb
the flowers spring, to bring again
colour to the coombe.

The spring that feeds the joyful Trim
sings gladly down the lea
As merrily it runs its way down
to the distant sea.

And lambs that graze upon the banks
that line its merry course
will gambol, unsuspecting that
they’ll get served with mint sauce.

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

Wishing you a springy spring!

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine – March 2017

Dear Sir

I would like to commend the Vicar on his dedication to the 8am communion service.

Last week my aunt Constance was away on holiday at Lake Constance. With her not in the country, I decided to enjoy a lie-in rather than get up so early on a Sunday.

But it was nice to know that Nathan was still there, taking the service on his own. I am sure that he will be rewarded in heaven.

Yours etc

Constanza Nearby, “Donebloggin'”, Woodby

Dear Sir

More trouble with our furry friends at Great Tremlett, I hear.

I am not referring to the seven remaining members of the Congregational Chapel. But rather the badgers and rabbits that have been undermining the churchyard wall.

Well, they will be a problem no longer. And I hear the “Game Pie” went down a treat at the Hanged Man Inn last Friday.

Ask no questions….

Yours,

The Masked Avenger”


Dear Sir

Once again the Vicar allowed George Herbert’s Day to pass by with barely  a mention at Morning Prayer.

I remember the good old days. Every year the Vicar would be chased around the village with sticks by the school children. And then driven to exhaustion by the Trim Valley Hunt, in their last official meet of the season. Although it was a terrible mess the time the hunts caught Old Father Maybold in Marion’s Covert.

Ah, times are no longer what they were.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Why all the noise at Synod about gay marriages? If we just kept quiet nobody would want one. We’re only creating  a demand we can’t fulfil.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

I have been mainlining Creme Eggs since mid-January, in the knowledge that I would have to give them up for Lent. This morning I realised in a panic that I would have to eat the three remaining boxes before the end of the day, to avoid having Creme Eggs about the house on Ash Wednesday. 

The temptation would be too great.

Therefore I have eaten them all, bringing on what I believe is called a “sugar rush.”

I am scribbling this note on a church newsletter I have found in my suit. Can someone please get me down.

Yours “par avion de papier”

Major J Dumpling, the top of the church spire, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I see we had Candlemass again this year.

I’m not saying it was not welcome the first time. But every year? What else did Jesus do beside get born and grow up? Surely we could mention that sometimes?

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the days lengthen, our thoughts turn towards the Spring Equinox.

The coven will meet on Grumbler’s Tump at 9am on the 20th-21st March. Please note that the Equinox is early this year. Last time this happened, four people turned up a day late, ran around “skyclad” and alarmed some paintballers.

Advance warning that the Vicar will be checking the magazine in future for what he refers to as “pagan goings on”. Publication dates are a bit short this month so I think I’ve got away with it. However please in future check the church notice board. I can normally get the notices up there for a week or two before he spots them.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people
And I want to see life
Driving in your car
Oh please don’t drop me home
Because it’s not my home, it’s their home
And I’m welcome no more

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

Time for another of my famous “vicar” jokes.

Q – Where does the Vicar go on his holidays?

A – Anywhere with a wi-fi connection. He’s got a lot of rotas to plan for the next few months, and wants to get ahead on the parish admin before he’s back at work!

Yours etc

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby


Dear Sir

I am told that, finding there was no congregation at the 8am Communion last week, the Vicar decided to have another nap and went back home.

Terrible dedication. Of course in these circumstances he could not lead a Communion. But I feel he could at least have sung a few hymns so God knew we cared.

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin'”, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

Spring will soon be here!

“Th’Awakening Earth”

Up in the eaves, O welcome sound

The house-sparrows are scratching round

To build their tiny summer home

Where chicks may thrive, and learn to fly

And then in summer start to roam.

The hedgehogs, stirring in the loam

Will soon raise hoglets in their home.

They venture out in search of bugs

And as they look, by hedge and brook,

May hap upon some tasty slug.

The rabbits, freed from winter’s frown

Now skip and gamble on the down.

All day they feast on grass so fresh

And at the dusk, when darkness creeps

They venture underground – so nesh!

But summer is so short a time

When grass is free from snow and rime

The days pass swift for mortals all

Though birds may fly, and fill the sky

Half will be dead before the fall.

Death death death

death death death

death death death.

At least half.

Could be more.

Death.

Yours etc

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

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