Letters to the Church Magazine: August 2017

Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin’”, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that’s the Nehemiah I believe in!

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

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

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

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

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

What do you advise?

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Apologies for the late cancellation of the Treasure Hunt.

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

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

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

THE HARVEST

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the blessings of the harvest

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine: July 2017

Dear Sir

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

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

Yours with the anti-histamine,

Germaine Johnson, Garage Lane, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Kiki Grinton, Shandling Street, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Mildred Peabody, Chapel Lane, Woodby Chapel End

Dear Everybody

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

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

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

Yours etc

Revd Nathan



Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

Grimly Ingleton, Furnace End, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

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

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

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

Yours etc

Dr Sandra Ireland, “Dunphlebbin”, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

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

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

I have therefore sold them to buy candles.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

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

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

Obviously.

Yours etc

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


Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Yours etc

Bing Bingley, Maypole Green, Woodby

Dear Sir

Sex on the TV, everybody’s at it.

Your mind gets dirty as you get closer to 30.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Lane, Woodby

Dear Sir

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

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

Yours etc

Shankly Gates, Hill Meadow, Lt Tremlett

Dear Sir

A poem for the holiday season.

Verão

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

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

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

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

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


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

Yours etc

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

Letters to the Church Magazine – June 2017

Dear Sir

Astonishing to hear that anthem on Sunday performed in six parts. Especially as there’s only five of them in the choir.

Chester should really just accept that his voice isn’t what it was.

Yours etc

Barbra Finkel, Long Meadow, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

As we look forward to Reverend Joanna completing her time with us and finding her own vicar’s post we must ask ourselves some serious questions.

In my own case that question should be, when I asked her if she were in need of some company when her husband was away on business, why did she get that court to order my exclusion from a 400 yard radius of her house?

Yours etc

Randall Nevis, Leer Cottage, Woodby

Dear Sir

When will something be done about Mr Nuttall?

Standing outside the “Hanged Man Inn” late at night shouting about sending immigrants back.

For his information, they’re “Londoners”. And while they may not talk like us, they bring money into our villages and their children mean we can keep the school open.

Yours etc

Simone de Belvoir, World’s End, Lt Tremlett

Dear Sir

At last week’s “Bring Your Cheese to Church” service, my neighbour brought a rather over-ripe Danish Blue. Put me right off the words to “All Things Brie and Beautiful.”

I also complained about the Stinking Bishop. But he was there to lead the Confirmation Service.

Yours etc

Bradley Hadleigh, Cheese Road, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Dear Sir

After a recent trip to the Continent I have realised what Great Tremlett is missing. A proper relic! Draws them by the thousands does a decent relic.

Therefore I am honoured to present St Mary’s with the Appendix of St Peter’s Mother in Law. I know some have claimed it looks rather like a sun dried tomato. But if you don’t say anything I won’t.

Norbert better get ready for all the £74.22s to roll in! 

Yours etc

Toby Tenor, The Old Gate House, Gt Tremlett

Dear Sir

Many have asked how I got on at the Diocesan Clergy Week. And I hope nobody will be offended if I don’t tell them.

As we always say: “What happens in Swanwick, stays at Swanwick.”

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, Gt Tremlett Rectory

Dear Sir

I would like to thank all the people who have donated books to the church book stall over the last twelve months. However I think it is fair to say that we have accrued a fair number that we will never sell.  So if anyone wants any of the books below we will happily sell them for a nominal 5p, or else the rest will go into the specially-adapted “book burning stove” that we use for supplementary heating at winter Evensongs.

“50 Shades of Grey” – 86 copies
“A Song of Fire and Ice” (various) – 91 copies
Jackie Collins (various) – 154 copies
“A Brief History of Time” – 214 copies, all unread
“The God Delusion” – Seriously defaced
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” – Well-thumbed
“The Da Vinci Code” – 23 copies, implausible
“Honest to God” – 6 copies, irrelevant 
“Lost Icons”, Rowan Williams – 95 copies, Incomprehensible

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett

 

Dear Sir

As Treasurer I often have to deal with the offerings that have been taken on Sundays-  often as much as £74.22.

As a result of dealing with such large sums I have had to pay my nephew, “Mostin”, to act as hired muscle to protect me.

Mostin however does not do this from the goodness of his heart and expects appropriate payment for his services.

He therefore includes an invoice to the sum of  £74.22.

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

I note that the banner is up on the side of the church advertising the “Fète”.

Shocked by this topographical inexactitude! We may have voted for Brexit but that is no excuse for rubbing the noses of our French friends in it.

Therefore late Friday night, having fortified ourselves with a couple of quarts of rhubarb and marmalade wine, my friend Mr Charkles and myself took a ladder and some duck tape along to correct things.

There was some initial confusion when we both stood on the bottom rung of the  ladder to hold it steady. And then when neither of us stood there and both toppled from the top. But eventually we reached the perfect situation – where one of us climbed while the other held it steady.

So eventually I managed to correct it. Unfortunately as I finished the adjustment, Charlie wandered off distracted by some goings on in the bushes. While he was taking photographic evidence for Dr Holland’s next “sin list”, I toppled off the ladder once more, going over the graveyard wall and landing on a passing milkfloat.

How lovely to see a milkfloat! I thought the Blair government had banned them along with foxes. 

Yours etc

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

Dear Sir

With all the excitement over election polls I thought I would conduct my own, for who should replace the vicar when he finally obeys God’s call. And the results are as follows:

Derek Nimmo    45%

Dawn French     23%

Tom Hollander   18%

Richard Coles      17%

Lib Dems               8%

David Mitchell     7%

Giles Fraser          2%
I have written to Fr Nimmo offering him the job if he wants it, but sadly have had no response.

Yours etc

Melonesia MacMagnum, Carriage Way, Woodby Chapel End

Dear Sir

I have written a new poem for the General Election.

“THE NATION’S DILEMMA”

Doubt like gossamer blows across fair Albion
Nicola Sturgeon smiles and weighs her votes
The fishers, anxious, wonder if  they will keep their boats
When, Brexecuted, Britain on free water floats.

Anxiety sweeps this desperate orb
From East to West the people rise 
As Theresa May – gray-faced with age-old eyes
Watches Labour’s vote head for the skies.

And the beat of the world
Neath humanity’s noise 

Continues – incessant, sempiternal, hypnotic.

Covfefe
Covfefe
Covfefe
Covfefe
Covfefe
Stuff the climate!

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

Dear Sir

What has happened to the banner for the Church Fête?

What on earth is a Church Fate? Apart from decline and eventual closure, obviously.

Yours etc

Xavier de Quincy Somerville-Shepard, Sheep Close, Lt Tremlett

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