Monday, 18 December 2017

St Pancras 150

St Pancras Station turns 150 next year.  And already there's a souvenir shop selling overpriced tat high quality gifting ware in the station.

But it's pretty standard stuff. Beefeaters, red phoneboxes kind of thing.

So the Beaker Folk figured we'd get in on the act. After all, it's just down the road. And Flitwick and Bedford are on that line.  So why not try:

Wind-up John Betjeman: Just tell this lovingly die-cast figurine that you like modernist architecture, and he'll satirise you in scathing verse.

Intercity 125 Action Model: Albeit the "action" is standing just outside Harpenden due to a points failure at East Hyde.

Plaque to the Unknown Commuter: Commemorating the stoicism of the person on that HST at Harpenden who managed not to use their entire battery complaining about the delay on Twitter.

Scale models of Bishop Stopford Schoolchildren: Desperately doing their homework on the run from Market Harborough to Kettering.

Commemorative Pint Glass: To remember the hike in beer prices when the "Shires" bar was replaced by the Betjeman Arms

Model Fussy Train Manager: Insisting the cyclists with folding bikes put them in the right luggage area. Not that one.  That one. Not on the top. It might fall off.

Manspreading Voodoo Doll With authentic pins (please do not use the pins in real life)

27,000 spare editions of "Metro"

Life-Sized "Luggage" from The Colour of Magic: Trained to swallow whole anyone that is walking at high speed though St Pancras while looking at their phones.

Special Edition St Pancras 15 Monopoly Board ; Actually, we've just got an ordinary one and crossed out the word "Kings Cross" and written in "St Pancras". And knocked 50 quid off the cost of the station.

A Bottle of  Cannabis and Burger Scent: Recreate in your own home the experience of walking through Camden Town on the way to the station.




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Anniversary of the Death of Kirsty MacColl (2000)



The sun disappears bringing fears that come only at night
With hopes and dreams that will wither away in the light
And thoughts wander back to the girl with the perfect smile
Who said she would never leave you alone?
But she had to spend some time on her own for a while

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Nativity - Contemporary Version

Yeah, if I had to choose a word to describe today's Nativity, I'd go for "mixed".

I mean, full marks to our Youth minister, Drebling. He wanted to make it edgy, woke and lit. And he only missed by the distance from Husborne Crawley to Milton Ernest.

The thing is, we know that Herod is a bad guy. He's the pantomime villain of the Coventry Carol. But making him Donald Trump was an open goal, wasn't it? Him building that huge wall meant the Holy Family couldn't even get to Bethlehem. Ended up parked in the Bethlehem suburbs. 

Then the narrator. Jeff Stelling? I mean, how distracting can it be to have an endless stream of statistics as the story progressed? Land of Zebulun (sixth son of Jacob and Leah) and Naphtali (led by Ahira son of Enan, whose division numbers 53,400) - you didn't know whether you were following the Greatest Story Ever Told or watching "Who do You Think You Are".

The Shepherds who were abiding in the fields around Bethlehem discovered that, thanks to the wall, they couldn't get to the room where the manger lay.  They tried to get through, but were driven away by King Herod, tipping boiling oil (played by black treacle) on their heads and shouting "Get away from my beautiful wall! Make Arimathea Galilean again!" " So instead the holy babe was visited by the pardoned White House turkeys and the Little Drummer boy. Which is apparently as Biblical as an ox and an ass.

Then there was a very long "census" scene. For the most part, neglected in the Biblical narrative. This consisted of Nigel Farage checking the nationality of everybody in Bethlehem, while whinging about how poor he was. At the end of which, all the Eastern Europeans went home, and the parable of the fig tree was interpolated, with an explanation of how it was unfruitful because nobody was around to pick it.

In contravention of modern critical wisdom, Drebling insisted on having three "kings". Mervyn, Billy-Jean and BB. I mean, yeah. Alternative gifts. Sold-off gold, a tennis racquet and Blues. Hnaef suggested that to be really hip once of them should have had a "Frankie Says" T-shirt. Which I guess is pretty contemporary for a liberal Anglican.

And then, after queuing for two days because Egypt had left the Roman Customs Union. Mary and Joseph made it to safety. Herod went back to demanding to know why Caesar hadn't investigated Cleopatra over her unsafe storage of official papyri.

I did ask why we finished with the singing of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Drebling said it's vaguely Biblical and everybody likes it. So fair enough. I guess that's what the Christmas story is all about.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Pray for Nigel

As we approach Christmas, the weather becomes colder. And poverty lurks in unexpected corners of London and Brussels.

Nigel is 53 and separated. He has just realised that, as a result of his own actions, he will be out of a job in two years. And apart from drinking beer, destroying his own country, and impersonating frogs, he has no discernible talent. What will he do when, aged 55, he has to find some purpose in life?

In the meantime he is desperate. Struggling by in a £4m townhouse in London, earning only around £100K a year from his day job, slaving at night for LBC, and with a mere £75K per annum pension to look forward to. His friend Donald doesn't call so often. And his other friend Julian has taken to hiding from him in a cupboard at the Ecuadorian embassy.

This Christmas, just £2.89 could buy Nigel a pair of Union Jack underpants[1]. 4 quid will get him a pint in some of the less exclusive parts of London. £1,000 will pay for him to lose his deposit in some pointless by-election. And several million quid will let him restart his campaign to make the UK the basket case of the world while encouraging working class people to hate people with darker skins than them or names with "Z"s in.

Pray for Nigel.

[1] Asian sizes only. Bigger pants available in our brave new world of free trade



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Only Purely Biblical Carols

I have read, Brothers and Sisters, a fine piece today in Christian Today by David Baker about Christmas carols with unnecessary, un-Biblical allusions in them.

For instance, "Away in a Manger" is rightly rejected as "dross" because the baby Jesus does not cry in it. Whereas in the Bible record, there is no mention of whether the little Lord Jesus cried or not.

And We Three Kings. Yes, the word "Kings" is only used once - in the first line - but it is a total perversion of the Biblical record, which mentions only "Magi" - and not the number. We are told that the Magi are plural, and the gifts are three. So until the author changes it to "We three gifts of orient are" it will not work.

Inspired by this, I have undertaken a review of all the Christmas Carols we were planning to sing at the Carol Service at the Bogwulf Funambulist Baptist Chapel tomorrow. And made some decisions on what needs removal.

"O Little Town of Bethlehem", like "Away in a Manger", implies that childbirth is a silent, presumably pain free experience: "How Silently, How Silently". I am told by Marjory that this is not the case. Although on the occasions when she bore our children, I was not in earshot,  having urgent prayer meetings to attend, according to her mother, Marjory said some uncharitable things about me during the labour. I have since forgiven her.

"Once in Royal David's City" founders on the evidence that Bethlehem is not a city. And there is no mention of a cattle shed in the Biblical narrative.

"Little Donkey", "The Little Drummer Boy" are both ruled out as imaginary. Or, at the best, embellishments.

"Angels from the Realms of Glory": Where, pray, are we told that these are the same angels that sang creation's story? Indeed, since angels themselves are created beings, for them to have sung creation's story is a logical impossibility.

"As with Gladness, Men of Old": the soi-disant Archdruid objects to this on the grounds that the Bible does not say the Magi were male. My response is that if they were prophets, able to see God's message to them, and to go to the first-born Son, of course they were men. It is striking and important that all the visitors to the baby Jesus were men. Except for Mary, and to be fair she was needed. However, this song also reminds us that the Magi were astrologers and the word "magic" derives from their caste. So that rules out "We Three Kings" again, and any other carol that involves the Magi.

"Fairytale of New York": is not a fairytale. And there is no such group of musicians as the "NYPD Choir." Indeed, it is possible that the drunken Irishman and his drug-addled lover are not even real.

"The Holly and the Ivy" are at no point mentioned, either in Matthew or Luke.

"Christians Awake", "Hail Happy Morn" and "It came Upon the Midnight Clear": we have no information as to what time of the night or morning Jesus was born. It is best we do not speculate on these matters.

"In the Bleak Midwinter" - the weather conditions at the time of the Nativity are not reported.

"The Coventry Carol" - we do not know whether or not this massacre was carried out in Herod's sight.. He probably had some ruling to do, without gallivanting around Bethlehem.

"Do you hear what I hear" is ruled out on the grounds of astronomical speculation. We have no idea whether the Star of Bethlehem had a tail. And a talking sheep? The talking animals of Holy Writ are restricted to a donkey. Not that donkey. Not the donkey that is not in the Nativity narratives.

Brothers and Sisters. By the time I had completed my exclusion of unscriptural carols, I was left with two.

"Adam Lay Ybounden" and "Gaudete".  I am afraid the Carol Service is cancelled. 

It turns out Christmas is too Roman Catholic.






Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Fairytale in Threat

This is ridiculous.

Richard Osman - clever, likeable bloke off that thing - has set up a World Cup of Xmas Songs. And he's drawn "Fairytale of New York"  against "Do They Know It's Christmas".  The greatest Christmas song ever, against a hack-written dirge that did a lot of good work for charidee, admittedly, but also brought a load of celebs we'd tried to forget back into the nearly-lime-light.

Look, you know what to do. Get down there and vote for Kirsty and Shane. Don't let Geldof Brexit Christmas.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

A Table for the Calculation of Christmas Jumper Day

(Unless other arrangements are made)

Christmas Jumper Day will be the 2nd Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless Christmas Day is a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  In which case it is the Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless the Executives tend to work from home on Fridays. In which case it is the Thursday before the 2nd Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless Christmas Day is a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. In which case it is the Thursday before the Friday  before Christmas Day.
The kind of jumper worn on Christmas Jumper Day by people who don't have friends the rest of the year. For some reason.

Unless this causes Christmas Jumper Day to be the day after Office Party Night. In which case the sight of all the cheery jumpers the following morning after Office Party Night is likely to cause people who've been to the Christmas Party to retch like unto the Great Fish that vomited up Jonah onto the beach at Niniveh.

And so if the Christmas Jumper Day falls on the day after Office Party Night, it is to be moved to the day of Office Party Night. And thus the sort of sad gets that think that Christmas Jumper Day is great, get to wear their crappy Christmas Jumpers to the Office Party.

If this means that Christmas Jumper Day is a Wednesday, there can be a secondary Christmas Jumper Day on Friday. Sure, the Execs won't be there. But everybody else gets to look like a raw prawn twice.

Happy Christmas!





Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

A Church Near Truth

As the Anglican church-finder, "A Church Near You", announces an upgrade, it strikes me some more information is required

"Please feel free to block Church Lane with your 4x4"

"Secluded graveyard for nocturnal encounters"

"Unwelcoming welcomers"

"Building open all day. But Wilf will follow you around"

"Festival Church - We open up once a year, say how lovely it is, then get back to the telly"

"Key available from local who will give you a questionnaire with 93 questions to ensure you're not an internationally-feared tat thief"

"1960s Liberal Theology"

"Building falling down"

"Specific but unidentified pews reserved for regular worshippers"

"Lord of the Dance Free Zone"

"God never mentioned"

"Nave size already measured and published on this website. No need to measure it"

"Open all day. Everything of value has been stolen"

"Volunteers needed"

"Loads of history of the building. No congregation"

"Sheep grazing in churchyard"

"Haunted building"

"Haunted churchyard"

"Haunted look about the vicar"

"Please post dead bats at the vicarage"

"Incomprehensible rota"

"Damp inside. Lead's gone again"

"Do not feed the Church Wardens"

"Vicar thinks he* belongs to another denomination"

"Wheelchair ramp at hideously dangerous angle"

"Contactless collection"

"Contactless Peace"


* always "he" in this situation



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Will Ferrell Exclusion Zone

In among the more contentious matters of Christmas - such as did the shepherds in "While Shepherds Watched" really only have the one mind between the three of them? - there are some things on which we can all clearly agree.

One is that when we start the Beaker Whelk Stall in the spring, we're not asking David Davis to run it. Not after what happened when we asked if could organise the Christmas party for the Beaker Brewery. Gosh, that was dull.

The other is that we are declaring Husborne Crawley a Will Ferrell Exclusion Zone. If anyone in a 2 mile radius of the Moot House has an image of Will Ferrell appear on their TV screen, it will be replaced by a picture of a moulted Christmas tree.

We're sorry Will.

Actually, we're not. We'll lift the exclusion zone on 2 January. By which time nobody will want to watch any Will Ferrell films for another 11 months.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!