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

Febuary 2016 – Letters to the Church Magazine

Dear Sir

The “Peace” continues to be a menace.

If I am expected to go around the Church, wishing people well when in fact I don’t like them,  it makes me a hypocrite. Even when, due to my new electric overcoat, they are no longer trying to give me hugs.

I now have had some cards printed. They say “although I probably don’t wish you actual physical harm, I would prefer not to exchange any physical contact. Please stay at a distance of at least four feet”. I find that, since I have been handing them out on the end of the church’s historic Civil War halberd, my personal space is being respected.

I would like to apologise to Revd Joanna, however. When she poured the water out into the font for baptism last week – who would have thought my overcoat would “arc” like that?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Due to a clash with the annual Long-Playing Record Sale, this year’s Pancake Party will be held on Ash Wednesday at 6.30. This does clash with the Ashing Service but, let’s face it, when there’s movable events in the Liturgical Calendar, something’s gotta give.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House.


Dear Sir

Our toddlers group, “Trim Valley Angels”, has been renamed to “Little Fiends.” After the incident with Reverend Nathan and the miniature “Frozen” character, it seemed more appropriate. It is good to see however that the local NHS has a crack team of nasal surgeons.

Yours etc

Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby


Dear Sir

There have been complaints that I have asked the Electoral Roll officer, Elsie Meaux, to step down after 56 years of faithful service. But in the end, I am afraid it was inevitable.

I have often wondered how Little Tremlett – a village of approximately 400 souls – could possibly have an Electoral Roll six times that in size. And after persuading Elsie to allow me to transcribe her hand-written Roll onto the computer I discovered why.

Elsie is a kindly soul, who has never regarded somebody moving away from the parish, or never attending worship, as a reason to take them off the Roll. She sees it as a pastoral thing – by being on the Roll, even if they never come to the church (even, indeed, if they are not even aware they are on it) she feels she is keeping them within the fold.

However I now discover that Elsie has been similarly pastoral with people who have passed on. Even when people have died, she has not removed them. Indeed, Elsie has continued to re-enter them on the Roll when creating the new rolls every six years.

In fact, when I compared the Roll with the church register of deaths and the headstones in the graveyard, I discovered that a large proportion of the Little Tremlett Electoral Roll had died in the 19th Century. I do indeed believe in the “Communion of Saints”, but this is taking pastoral care beyond the pale – or, indeed, the veil.

I have therefore asked Chantry Spokes, our new Electoral Roll officer, to remove any member of the congregation who is no longer with us. Our revised Electoral Roll now stands at 28 people. Which will make it much easier to check at the APCM, but means people praying for the departed on Sundays will need to make a new list.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, The New Rectory, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

After great personal and spiritual struggle, I agreed to have a so-called “Android Tablet” installed for Christmas. It has a remarkable feature called “email” whereby the Royal Mail can put letters straight into the device, rather than through my letter box.

However last week I received a communication through the device from the Vicar, asking for a reply. I toyed with the idea of putting the tablet into an envelope and posting it, but wondered if Revd Nathan would know that my password is “password”. I would not want to tell him using the telephone – you cannot be too careful these days.

At about 4am, I came to the conclusion that it was probably possible to send an email to the vicar, from the device itself. I therefore called him to ask him what his email address was, and if I wanted to send him a reply what should I do with the tablet?

I was surprised by his answer. It turns out that it is not actually a tablet! In fact, it might better be called a ” Suppository”.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again we are wasting money in a most shocking way. I watched as a Warden used a taper to light both acolytes’ candles on the Sunday after Christmas. It is plain that, to preserve the taper, only the first candle need be lit from it. After that, the second candle can be lit from the first.

I have calculated that this simple money-saving method would make the average taper last approximately twice as long. However this was a rough calculation, and therefore I will not be submitting an invoice.

Yours etc.

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


Dear Sir

The papers are full of the suggestion that we should “fix” Easter to a date in mid-April.
This would be a great asset to me in my forecasting of expenses for the post-Christmas and Lent season.

Every year on New Years Day, I buy enough boxes of Creme Eggs to last me until the hot cross buns are officially eaten on Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately I tend to eat the entire set in early January, and have to do it all again. And again.

If Easter were the same Sunday each year, I could simply put in a repeat order with Tremlett Stores, to be delivered every week-end for the appropriate 19 weeks each year. This would then remove the frenzy whereby I visit the Stores each Saturday, buy eighteen boxes of creme eggs and a couple of bottles of Tizer, and am found shouting about badgers in the churchyard early on Monday morning.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Once again Candlemas is upon us. And we have the same old readings about Simeon and Anna.

Did Jesus not do anything else as a child? Surely there must be some Gnostic Gospel we could use for a bit of variety? What was he like at school? Was he particularly good at RE, despite his habit of describing the events in Genesis in the First Person? Did he climb trees? Really, Vicar – get your act together and fill in the gaps!

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his post-Christmas vacation. And the people of Great Tremlett were so happy to use the Sarum Rite again – although attempting this at Grilsby-on-the-Hill nearly got me handed into the New Model Army as a suspected Papish.

I did miss out on Evensong at Woodby on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. A very strange event indeed. I was just about to leave the Old Vicarage when two figures appeared round the side of my house, a large sack fell on my head, and I was bundled into a van and driven to Ramsgate.

Thankfully I had my credit card with me and was able to purchase a train ticket to Banbury. Although of course by this time on a Sunday it was an overnight trip, and I eventually arrived home at 2am.

Still, I am glad that the Reader, Doreen, was able to step in for me at the last moment – and conveniently had a sermon for the Sunday after Epiphany with her! I am glad she had her blue scarf returned as one of the miscreants who kidnapped me had clearly also stolen it.

Yours etc

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

January 2016 Letters to the Church Magazine

Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Gabrielle Fitch Thompson, the Old Market House, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

You live and learn.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

Once again, the Church of England fails to deliver.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Mary England,  Carstairs House, Woodby

 

October 2015

Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Disgusting.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House.


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby


Dear Sir

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

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

I think she may have psychic powers.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Naturally I suffered some expenses in the purchase and tending of a living tree. I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc.

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his vacation. And the people of Great Tremlett were so happy to use the Roman Missal again.

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

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine – July 2015

Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Sibelius Bunce, Cold Lane, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Deaf Sid

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

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

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

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

Ursa etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett

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


Dear Sir

I have a dream, a song to sing

To help me cope with anything.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

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

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett

Letters to the Church Magazine – May 2015

Dear Sir

A lovely Easter Sunday celebration. Although somewhat spoiled for me by the choice of font for the Service sheet. Does the vicar really think that a 12 pt “Calibri” is suitable for the celebration of the resurrection?

I used to be in the Ministry Division. We would never have tolerated this. 

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my behaviour on Easter morning.

I had panic-bought a lot of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs on Easter Saturday, realising that we were at the end of their sale season. The Dumpling family have an old tradition of sitting up “watching” from sunset on Good Friday until sunrise on Easter Sunday. And the time hangs slowly, so I decided to eat one of the eggs. And then another. Until I had eaten four display boxes.

Hence when I arrived on Easter Sunday, it is fair to say I had what I believe is called a “sugar rush”. I would like to apologise for throwing all the toys out of the children’s corner, shouting “why can’t we play with these? Don’t discriminate against us old people!”

No member of the Dumpling family has been thrown from a church building since my Great Uncle Arnold was caught impersonating a vicar. Thus ending his eight years as incumbent. I can only apologise to Revd Joanne, who I accused of having murdered the Easter Bunny. And the choir (whose robes I set fire to with a candle), and the bell ringers, one of whom I believe is still hiding in the tower.

I will never behave like this again in an act of divine worship.Those Church Wardens have a very strong grip on one’s elbow.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

The new “Trim Valley Prayer” group resumes after our Easter break. During Lent, we met every Tuesday to pray that, like our Lord, the vicar might go into the wilderness for a new vision of where and what his calling might be.

Although myself and Dr Ireland have invited the Vicar to attend, sadly it continues to be his day off.

In May we shall be praying for the Lord to send the following on our congregations:

5th : “At this time of elections, a vision of how God rejects ungodly leaders”.

12th: “Discernment between strong and weak leadership”

19th: “An understanding of the parable of the wolves in sheep’s clothing”

26th: We shall be reading Acts 27-28 and using this as the basis for our discussion theme: “Adrift, helpless, rudderless and heading for the rocks”.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

The old days have sadly passed. It is a long time since Great Tremlett celebrated the ancient feast of “Squirreltide”. In the days between Low Sunday and Ascension, the young boys of the village would roam the hedgerows, catching squirrels for the grand “Squirrel Supper”.

The vicar of Great Tremlett in 1884, my great-grandfather Obadiah Snodgrass, had to suppress the celebration after evidence mounted that the annual treat had led to a disease called “Squirrel Brain”. But that was the red squirrel. Surely we can, on a good scientific basis, catch and eat squirrels just like the old days?

Let the feast begin! Squeak!

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir 

One again, the PCC has refused to accept my offer for them to come and join in our May Day celebration.
I realise that, at the advanced age of most of the PCC members, dancing naked in the dews of Beltane Dawn may not be appealing. But surely, if a Church claims to be in favour of the Ecumenical movement, it cannot reject a tradition that has been in these islands since at least 1983, when I founded the Tremlett Coven on the basis of reading “The Golden Bough”?

It is too late for May Day now, but maybe the church could consider joining us for our Midsummer festivities? The goat is fattening nicely.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

Every Easter Sunday, the date changes. This results in us having to print new service sheets for what is, essentially, the same service every year.

I have calculated that, if we printed the next 100 years of service sheets off in advance, and simply wrote in the date, we could save up to £44 over the century. This would of course preclude us ever using any new hymns for 100 years. So that is two great gains over the current system.

In the course of driving to many local printers to back up my investigations, I have of course incurred some expenses. 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

I’m too sexy for my shirt. Too sexy for my shirt. So sexy that it hurts.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It is often said that rural churches – such as we in Grilsby – are behind the times. Unable to adapt. Solemn and staid.
Well, no more. On 12th May we at Grilsby will be entering a new era. Challenging stereotypes. Balancing on the leading edge of extreme sports.

Yes, “Hassock Jenga”. Can you remove the hassock from the 12-foot high stack without bringing the whole pile crashing – or, rather, squidging – down on your head?

It has been suggested that 45 years of accumulated dust since the hassocks were sewn – during which the folk of St Audrey’s, Grilsby have resolutely refused to kneel under any circumstances – might mean that there is a serious risk of allergy-related hazard in our game. Well I say – bring it on! If there is no danger of a sport bringing on a case of incapacitating coughing, what’s the point of playing?

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

On Easter Tuesday, it suddenly struck me that nobody has adequately explained how the Resurrection relates to the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Whom would one phone in such a tricky circumstance? Obviously, the vicar. So I dialled Revd Nathan, leaving a 10-minute explanation of the issues concerned on his voicemail. Naturally I assumed he would return my call.

In the event he phoned me back the following week, to discuss my issue. Now I know that he had been quite busy with school services the week before Holy Week, and the round of four or five services a day during Holy Week was busy. Especially five “meditations at the Cross” on Good Friday, and the children’s workshop. And then he did take services at 7pm Holy Saturday at Gt Tremlett, 9pm at Woody, 11pm at Woodby Chapel End, the sunrise service on Spy Hill, the 8am at Woodby, 9.30 at Great Tremlett, 11am at Woodby Chapel End and Evensong at “Great” again.

And, of course, the 2am “Watch through the Night” service here at Grilsby.We have always loved the 2am “Watch through the Night”. It is part of the fabric of the parish – a living tradition that goes back 300 years.

But everybody had Easter Monday off! How did he need a whole week? I didn’t waste my time phoning Revd Joanne to ask her my question – she knows about physics, and just tells me not to be so stupid. But back to the vicar. Apart from anything else, I know that nobody turned up at the “Watch through the Night” service. So he could have cut the sermon short. He should learn to have some flexibility.

Yours etc

Dolbey Noize-Reduction, Red Barn Lane, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Once again the gremlins have struck the advertisement I put in the Social Committee section of the church magazine.

The event at Woodby Grange was on train-spotting, not “witch-ducking”. That tradition died out in 1983. Still, amazing to see how much water was absorbed by the anorak of our guest speaker, Mr Burton Dasset!

Yours etc 

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby.


Dear Sir

Dear Sir – at the days lengthen in this blessed springtime, my thoughts go back to the old days in the village.

On May Eve, the young girls of the valley (though not young Mildred, who used to be up on Spy Hill dancing in the nude) used to go into the woods to pick bluebells, to determine who would be their husband. Many maidens would marry their young man during the July of that year – and the birth rate at the end of the following February would always sky rocket. Oddly, these children were always remarkably bonny for premature babies, and would often look a lot like the Squire. It was a tradition for the Squire to go into Banbury at the end of April, and withdraw a lot of ten pounds notes from the bank. Nobody every knew why.

Ah, the old ways pass away.

Yours etc

Dicky Vickers, Church Rise, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

April 2015

Dear Sir

I note that the green Beryl crockery in the Church Hall has been replaced by a new, supposedly tasteful, “willow pattern” design.

Yes, the Beryl was a drab green. Yes, it was chipped. Yes, it was bought during the Second World War. But it was the traditional crockery of Great Tremlett. It was actually donated to the church by my husband’s grandfather, Jeremiah Twigg, in memory of his late wife. She was actually named Doris, not Beryl. Caused a great scandal in the village.

My own great-grandparents drank their hideous coffee after Matins from the same Beryl cups we used until this month. And not only has the pattern been replaced – we now have mugs instead. I have written to the Diocesan Registrar to determine whether we should have applied for a faculty.

And the local newspaper.

And the Times newspaper.

And Nigel Farage.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

Every year, Lent brings with it new challenges, but also unexpected delights. This year, I have been much affected by how attractive the curate, the so-called Father “Joanne”, appears in a purple stole. Purple does seem a fetching colour on her – it sets off the long naturally blonde hair that flows down over her shoulders. However, when i suggested that maybe the period of Lent be extended, considering that Fr Joanne will be wearing a purple chasuble next year, Mrs Cobley-Anhall stood on my foot.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

Things ain’t what they used to be.

Yours etc
Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby

Dear Sir

I understand that, on top of the website, the Benefice now has a “Facebook Page”. This can only cause trouble. People will now be able to “like” the vicar. Which sounds ridiculously unlikely,

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

At the end of Lent, what have we learnt? Personally i found that the craving for red meat I experienced in the early weeks was totally assuaged by a food that was being sold by a van that parks in the lay-by outside the “Hanged Man” on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A most healthy and nutritious vegetarian snack. It is probably too late to do so this year, but next year I shall most definitely be planting Doner Kebab plants in the allotment.

Yours etc


Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

The old vestry in Little Tremlett is such a wonderful place. Some of the vestments at the back of the cupboard are up to 100 years old, and I love to climb to the back of the cupboard, wrap myself in an old chasuble, and dream of priests’ sweat and old incense.

On my last venture into the cupboard, imagine my surprise when I walked out into the back, to a place where it is always the Diocese of London but never Southwark. Fauns gamboled in the snow, terrified that the Witch Queen would arrive.

Eventually I awoke, with a Churchwarden slapping me across the face and telling me my snoring had terrified her. She had to remove an alb from my mouth, which I had been chewing under the impression it was Turkish Delight.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

As Spring has sprung,, I have once again been moved to poetry. I have composed the following – “Spring”

The snowdrops hastening to the earth

In turn see lilies come to birth.

The frogs that frolic in the lake

Cry out, the earth is now awake!

The singing bird up in the sky

Little knows that it is doomed to die.

For as it flutters in the light

It will be taken by a kite.

That new-born lamb with curly locks

Is eaten by a hungry fox.

The badger, prowling in the dark,

Will eat the young of snipe and lark.

And all the time, as the sun goes strong,

the creatures march to an ominous song

“Death, death, death, death.

Death, death, death, death.

Death, death, death, death.

Death, death, death, death.”

Wishing you all a happy Easter.

Yours etc

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