Writes of the Church – the Paperback

Looking for a Christmas present for the Christian churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a humorous book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need “Writes of the Church – Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews” – a perfect stocking filler. From Amazon, The Bible Reading Fellowship, Church House Bookshop, Salisbury College Bookshop, Southwark Cathedral… and other good Christian bookshops.cropped-writes-cover-square.jpg


“Writes of the Church” Notices w/c 15 October

Sunday 15, 9.30 am – Sheep Dog trials, St Mary’s, Tremlet – watch Maisie’s latest attempt to get the choir vested and in place on time, using Mollie the Collie.

Monday – Recreation of the Battle of Trim Valley. Or, as it is more formally known, the Trim Valley Benefice Synod. Please bring proof of life insurance.

Tuesday – Christmas Carol Service planning meeting, Grilsby Church. This is it, there’s no way out now. It’s Jingle all the way.

Wednesday – Benefice coach trip to visit Major Dumpling in hospital. Once again he has been lured by promotional pricing into buying too many mince pies too early. Once again, reading the best before date, he’s tried to eat them all before November. He is suffering from no movement. Sorry, no movements.

Thursday – Woodby Film Society watch “The Wicker Man.” Not the original, or the rotten version with Nicholas Cage. This is their own recording of when last year’s Harvest Festival went wrong.

Friday – Trim Valley Men’s Meeting annual booze-up, The Hanged Man. Meet people you’ve not seen in Church all year, and reflect what that tells us.

Saturday – Giant Combined Bric a Brac and Bacon stall, Little Tremlett Church Hall. All the stuff we’ve failed to sell across the benefice for years, but now all in one place! 

Letters to the Church Magazine : October 2017

Dear Sir

As we say goodbye to Revd Joanna, I would like to reflect on the many things we have learnt from her time with us as curate.

Her sermons were very good, considering she is a woman. Likewise when leading communion, it was almost like she was a real priest. I am sure that the Lambslaughter Benefice will benefit nearly as much from her vision and leadership as if she was a man.

Yours for equal opportunities,

Germaine Johnson, Garage Lane, Lt Tremlett

Dear Sir

I am afraid we have had to cancel the second “Trim Valley Trotters” meeting of the autumn. Jethro’s threatened to shoot on sight any one crossing his land, even using the public footpaths. We tested his resolve last week, and they reckon it will be six weeks before Mr Paget can sit down again.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett

Dear Sir

A reminder that this letters page is now available in book form. An ideal Christmas present for the Church goers in your life who have a sense of humour. Available from BRF, Amazon, Southwark Cathedral and all good Christian bookshops.

Yours etc

Eileen Fitzroy-Russell, The Great House, Husborne Crawley

Dear Sir

I would like to thank the people at St Mary’s for the warm welcome they gave me and my family when we came along to the Parish Communion last week.

I don’t suppose we will be back, but it was an interesting experience.

Yours etc

Kiki Grinton, Shandling Street, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

We had a new person attend worship at Woodby Chapel last week. I don’t want to declare it a revival, but these are steps forward!

I’m pleased to say that, within 15 minutes of entering the church, Margot had agreed to go on the tea rota, sing in the choir (making two people), host the Lady’s Bright Hour and be Churchwarden.

Yours etc

Mildred Peabody, Chapel Lane, Woodby Chapel End

Dear Everybody

1st October is the day that Revd Joanna leaves for her new role as incumbent of the Lambslaughter Benefice. We will miss her deeply. Especially when Canon Westcliffe is into the 40-minute mark of a sermon he has been preaching in the Trim Valley every three years since the lectionary changed.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan

Dear Sir

Thinking my experience at Grilsby Church, where I was greeted at the door, might have been an aberration, last week I went to Woodby Church.

They totally ignored me before, throughout and after the service, leaving me in complete peace. What an improvement! Who says Brexit is a failure?

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

With Christmas coming, already the Chocolate Oranges are on offer.

Unwisely I ate six in succession last week, and it did seem to have a strange effect.

I would like to apologise to the people at St Jude’s. It was inappropriate to ask the congregation if they wanted to “tap and unwrap me.”

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

I remember the good old days of Great Tremlett! When Father Fyre-Eataugh was the vicar, he ruled with a rod of iron.

I remember that when he died – still in office after 71 years’ service – he left an envelope that was only to be opened if the PCC was unable to come to a conclusion on an important vote.

When opened, the message inside simply said “Change Nothing.” A wise man.

Yours etc

Grimly Ingleton, Furnace End, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

Of course we wish Revd Joanna well as she completes her curacy training and leaves to take up the reins in her own parish.

Every Monday at 2pm at “Dunphlebbin” we will now be praying for God to send a replacement curate. Who will be a man. As God intended.

Yours aware of women’s weaknesses (and the vicar’s),

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin”, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

Jeb is a superb handyman, but recently I have had to question why every grave he digs costs us £74.22. It is an odd sum of money, as I am sure you will agree.

Therefore I have obtained alternate quotes from various people around the Trim Valley to see if we can get this vital task carried out any more cheaply. It turns out, no we can’t. And now Jeb has found out what I was doing, he has raised his rates to £174.22.

This is not my finest hour.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

We have had a Sydney Carter-written hymn at Woodby Church three weeks running.

I have reported the organist to the UN’s Human Rights Commission. I expect him to be on trial within 6 years.

Yours etc

Bing Bingley, Maypole Green, Woodby

Dear Sir

Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Lane, Woodby

Dear Sir

I have just discovered the concept of “tithing.” You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

Yours etc

Shankly Gates, Hill Meadow, Lt Tremlett

Dear Sir

As Revd Joanna leaves us for pastures new, I have been moved to poetry.


And so her waiting time is o’er
Joanna won’t be a curate any more
But instead can step abroad a proper incumbent
A priest-in-charge, so she could still be made redundant.

But we shall miss her thoughtful words
As distant, her new flock she herds.
And miss her movements full of grace
And we all thought her cakes were ace.

But know, as to your post you move,
The sands of time are running smooth
And though you hear the future beckoning,
It will all end with a divine reckoning.

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

Wishing Joanna a joyful and fulfilling future, while she still has health and time to enjoy it.

Yours etc

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

Trim Valley Notices : w/c 1 October

Sunday 1 October

Join us in saying goodbye to Revd Joanna as she presides at her last service in the benefice as curate. 10am at St Mary’s Tremlett. Anyone boycotting because she is a woman warmly welcomed at the same time at Woodby, where Canon Vyvyan Westcliffe will be preaching on “I do not allow a woman to speak in church.”


Mothers’ Union annual debate about where the inverted comma should be. Grilsby Hall, 8pm till late.


Beer and Hymns at the Hanged Man Inn. Wine available for people who don’t like beer. Ear plugs available for people who don’t like hymns. TV at home available for people who don’t like either.


Grilsby PCC 7.30 till midnight. A packed agenda including what colour pen should we use for filling in the accident book, and what would the last vicar but three have thought about hymns in E minor?


Are you a gay Christian? Would you like to explore what that means and meet in a group to discuss how a gay lifestyle might be reflected in 21st Century church? Then please can you go and do it somewhere else? We’re a bit worried it might be controversial. We’re a very conservative benefice.


8pm, Woodby Chapel : Joint service with the Methodists. Unfortunately they’re all either dead or have joined the Church of England congregations. But it’s been a tradition for 50 years so we can’t really stop it now.


Trim Valley Yoghurteers – 10 am in Gt Tremlett Church Hall. This month’s experimental flavours include lamb and mint, cheese and onion, and sandals.


Writes of the Church : Now on Sale

The paperbook book of this blog, “Writes of the Church” is released today! Available through The Bible Reading Fellowship, Amazon, and presumably many good Christian bookshops.

Join the congregation as they make their way onto proper printed paper, with some great cartoons drawn by Dave Walker.  How many times can Norbert resign as treasurer? Why is Romilly constantly cancelling the social events? And why would a tea towel cause a boycott of the church hall? And Melissa gets in with a couple of her uplifting poems.

And all just in time for Christmas….

Notices w/c 3 September

Please note that, just to rub it in, we will be mentioning that the kids are back to school from now till Michaelmas

Sunday 3rd : Evensong cancelled due to excessive muck spreading. You can’t get within a mile of Woodby.

Monday: Line Dancing, Tremlett Church Hall : please note this was a typo on the flyers. Melissa had actually organised “Lion Dancing.”

Tuesday: Trim Valley Wine Society “Autumn Surprise” evening. Can you tell which wine has been made from acorns?

Wednesday: Landscape Painting Society – please meet at Grilsby Sewage Works 6.30pm for “Seeing Unexpected Beauty.”

Thursday: Tremlett School Assembly in St Mary’s 9 am. Risk is at Amber so please can the Wardens provide light weight riot gear.

Friday: Washing Machine Club, Grilsby. With slides of Sibelius Bunce’s vintage Whirlpool.

Saturday 10-2 Can’t wait till Christmas to buy the junk you passed up at the fete? Come along to Little Tremlett Autumn Fayre!

Letters to the Church Magazine : September 2017

Dear Sir

I see that the Parisians have opened an “Experimental Nudist Park“.

I have no idea what an experimental nudist is. But whatever it is, at least it shows more consistency than the Church of England’s nudist female bishop.

Two years now and I’ve not seen so much as an ankle.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett

Dear All

Further to the vicar’s announcement on Sunday. I am terribly excited to be taking on my new role as Priest in Charge of the Lambslaughter Benefice. I will of course be missing you terribly.  Except possibly for those of you who don’t think I’m a real priest or, in one particularly bizarre person’s case, a real women.

I should like to thank Revd Nathan and Bishop Brenda for the support they have given me, as I’ve ensured I find a living that fits in with the needs of my family. The views of some that “she should just go where God sends her” have been expressed to me second-hand – but God doesn’t have to get his kids to three different schools in the morning.

There have also been wild rumours that I objected to one posting on the grounds that the hot tub in the vicarage garden was the property of the previous incumbent, and would have to be removed before we moved in. This is not at all true. It was simply that when I looked into that particular vicarage, Sibelius Bunce rented out the house next door – the one with a window overlooking the garden. Ugh.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

I believe it is important that we hold our clergy to account. So when the Vicar announced he was on holiday for a fornight, I wanted to ensure he was indeed on holiday.

For this reason, the first Monday of his holiday I broke through the back larder window, and hid myself away in the attic of the Vicarage armed only with a cassette recorder, a fortnight’s supply of food and lager, and a chemical toilet.

My suspicions were confirmed when, after a week away – apparently in Minehead, but maybe he lied about this also – Revd Nathan and his family reappeared in the vicarage.

I spent the next week listening in as they family ate meals, watched TV and the vicar sobbed alone in his upstairs study and crunched Hula Hoops.

Unfortunately I am still trapped in the attic. It appears they have locked the attic hatch and seem unable to hear my cries for assistance.

I am emailing this with the last of my phone battery. Please send help.

Yours etc

Sibelius Bunce, Cold Lane, Great Tremlett

Dear Sir

Now the Vicar has returned from his holiday, hopefully thoroughly refreshed, we can all hope to hear some inspired sermons and see some real vision coming from him.

We can hope.

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin’”, Great Tremlett

Dear Sir

What a pleasure once again to stand in for the vicar while he was away on holiday! And how the people of Little Tremlett enjoyed the Lauds in the Odinist Tradition!

However on the second Sunday, I am afraid I was unable to lead Evensong.

An odd occurence. I was walking along Church Lane, Tremlett when the phone rang in the red phone box.  We in the Trim Valley are proud of our traditional phone box, but it has not actually been used in a decade. However I popped in to answer.

At the other end, a female voice told me to stay in place as a lion- which had been trained to identify and eat clergymen – was running amok in the Trim Valley.

Naturally I stayed where I was – wondering what to do next – as a green gas rose from the floor and I fell asleep.

red phone box

“Beware of the Lion”

When I awoke, the entire phone box was engirdled in a number of elastic cycle luggage straps – I could not open the door, and I had to stay there until the vicar broke off his holiday and came and let me out.  Thankfully there was no sign of the clergy-eating lion.

I would like to thank the Reader, Doreen, who most kindly stepped in for me at the last minute, and even had a sermon on an apposite verse: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ”

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

It is with excitement, and yet with a certain sadness, that we will wave Revd Joanna off to her first posting in October.

Excitement, because it is a great adventure for her. She is a talented young woman and she and her family will be a blessing anywhere they go.

Sadness, because it means Canon Westcliffe and Doreen, our Reader, are even as I speak sitting in my living room arguing over the precise degree of “help” each will be able to offer me.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, Tremlett Vicarage, Great Tremlett

Dear Sir

I’m planning to pop in for a service in October. Any chance somebody could run a duster round the Cholmondley Pew?

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

As the nights draw in, I think of autumns of old in the Trim Valley.

As the crops were harvested, the scarecrows were brought in from the fields and stored in the “Worzel Stalls” in the barns. Because of the old tradition that the scarecrows might be frightened in the dark, we used to lock a church warden in with them for the first three nights to keep them company.

Used to turn their hair completely white, spending all that time in a barn with the scarecrows looking at them. In these days, of course, we don’t elect churchwardens until they’re over 80, so their hair is already that colour. And we prop the scarecrows up in the pews to con ourselves the church is full at Christmas.

Ah, the old things pass away.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

Once again I offer my prayers to our Methodist friends whose “year” starts now and whose ministers take up their new posts.

Sadly the last Methodist in the Trim Valley died over 20 years ago. But I have a photo if anyone would like to know what they looked like.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby

Dear Sir

Thankfully as the summer comes to an end, the children will be relegated back to Sunday School instead of us all “being together” for services.

It’s no good people pretending it’s all very jolly when the kids are in for the whole service. Last week I lost my voice from the sheer amount of “shushing” I had to do. Beastly.

Yours etc

Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

What a Lammas Supper that was!

People have now shown me the video of the evening and I clearly had a whale of a time. I had no idea I even knew any Slovenian,

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

I have had my suspicions, over the last few years, that we are being over-liberal with the wine that is poured into the chalices on Sundays. Since the clergy are typically driving, the suspicion is that the eucharistic assistants or church wardens are over-filling the chalices before communion in order to indulge themselves in extra wine when the elements are cleared.

Inspired by the groundbreaking work of Revd Simon Harvey I have therefore been carrying out experiments to determine just how much wine the average communicant consumes.

In a typical Sunday service, our parishioners consume 7.5 ml of wine on average. Therefore by providing the ability to calculate the amount of wine supplied accurately, we are now able to save up to 55 ml of wine per Sunday – this being equivalent to a small glass – bigger than an egg cup but smaller than a tumbler.

In order to ensure these savings I have had to purchase an accurate measuring flask, and consume numerous bottles of wine. I therefore enclose an invoice to cover my outgoings, to the amount of £74.22.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

Can I say how much we will miss Father Joanna being with us when she leaves. It took some members of the church a while to realise that he was in fact a woman, what with being a priest. But after I realised that she was a real womanly woman, her presence thoroughly engaged my interest in services.

Right up to the point where Mrs Cobley-Anhall would only allow me to attend the services that Fr Nathan was leading.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

When my back is turned,
My bruises shine.
Our broken fairytale,
So hard to hide

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby

Dear Sir

Is it just me, or is there a lot of sin about these days?

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett

Dear Sir

As the summer turns to autumnal quiet, a poem for the changing year,

Autumn’s Call

I lit the fire for the first time today
and it took me back to that different time
when we were young, and the sky turned grey
and the grass shone with autumn’s first rime.

When our love was young.
When our love was young.

And on that autumn day you said I was fair
and they’d said you’d be a handsome lover.
Who could say that love would be so short
and you would leave me for my brother?

When our love was young.
When our love was young.

And leaning on the spade I look to the copse
‘cross the valley – such a lovely view
I buried you out there, for fear of the cops
You forgot I had a shotgun didn’t you?

Death death death death

Death death death death.

Yours etc

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

  • Editor’s note. Mrs Sparrow may not be able to attend her reading “A Hint of Death in the Air” later this month, due to her being interviewed by Banburyshire Police.