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

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