This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday, 30 November 2012

Tolkien film released

It's out at last: The Tobblit, the new film based on Tolkien's famous book.

Tablet

The Tobblit

As many readers will know, this book tells the tale of Pill-bo Peppins the Half-baked, who is sent on a quest by the great wizard Ganduffy, and meets many strange characters on the way.

Gandalf

"Keep to the Left!" says Ganduffy.

The powers of Middle-Earth (or Mediterraneum, to use a more traditional expression) have led Peppins to roam (Roma), but she is determined to escape from their influence: she goes into the wilderness looking for adventure, along with thirteen dwarves. These include Beati, the comedy dwarf, whose invitation to take part is withdrawn at the last moment. She tags along anyway, blogging furiously about it.

Orc

Peppins encounters an evil D'orc, seen here with the corpse of its victim.

The way is perilous, and Peppins often loses sight of her ultimate quest, which is something to do with a dragon. Indeed, as this is a three-film trilogy, she won't get that far for another couple of years.

One of the most loathsome creatures encountered en route is Gilesum, a strange twisted being that lives underground.

Gollum

Gilesum - once human, but now distorted by a life of hatred.

Gilesum utters many strange cries like "BIGOTSES - I HATESEM" and "WE WANTS WIMMIN PRIESTESSES!" He is custodian of a mysterious ring, with various magic powers, including the ability to throw one's voice into innocent people's sleeping chambers early in the morning.

Peppins escapes Gilesum and rejoins the party. They then have to cross the sinister forest of Inwood, where strange sounds are heard that drive people insane; however, the travellers cover their ears, as have so many before them, and they eventually reach the land of elven safety.

Saruman

Christopher Lee plays the part of another wizard, Cantuar the White.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The poetry of Rowan Williams

Many readers will know that Rowan Williams, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, is also a talented poet. While helping to tidy up after the recent Anglican General Synod (washing the blood off the floor, etc.) we came across a document in his handwriting, which suggests that he was practising this skill during the Synod.

Father Williams

You are old, Father Williams.

"You are old, Father Williams," the young man said,
"And your church has become very wild.
They don't seem to notice that you're at the head -
And Giles Fraser just screams like a child."

"In my youth," the Archbishop said, watching them fight,
"I thought all my flock could agree;
But now I've a subject on which they'll unite - 
They're all feeling angry with me."
Que sera sera,
Whatever Welby, Welby...
No, that's been done...

Bishop

My bishop's got a red, red, nose.

My bishop's got a red, red, nose,
From drinking too much port.
His wife could do the job as well - 
Now, there's a brilliant thought!
If...

If...

If you can bind the Church of England tighter,
And get it to calm down, if not agree,
About just who's allowed to wear a mitre
And run a diocese - that is, a see...
If you can reconcile the Lib and Evo
With Anglo-Cath and rabid Atheist,
Then, when at last you're given the old heave-ho, 
And go to Cambridge, maybe you'll be missed.
Nothing like a dame

There is nothing like a dame...

We got Durham, Ely, London,
We got Birmingham and York,
We got Winchester and Bradford,
(Now that's one who loves to talk!)
We got Liverpool and Norwich,
And a lot more calling names!
What ain't we got?
We ain't got dames!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Zany new BBC3 comedies

BBC3 has announced the production of a new situation comedy Way to go, which explores the hilarious, zany world of assisted suicide. Of this, Zai Bennett, Controller, BBC Three, says: "Bob Kushell’s scripts are in turn dark, poignant, absurd, moving and brilliant. But mostly they are very, very funny."

We asked what other programmes were in the BBC3 pipeline, and obtained some hilarious answers.

Lucky Jim

Seeing the lighter side of Jimmy Savile's crimes.

One "very, very funny" comedy that BBC3 is pleased to add to its portfolio is Lucky Jim, which explores the lighter side of child abuse. A BBC3 spokesman commented, "Our writer has come up with another brilliant comedy in the tradition of Swift, Wilde and Wodehouse; we see his main character, Jim, getting involved in a succession of hilarious sex romps!"

Another rib-tickling show that is sure to go down well is Yes, sir, that's my baby, set in an abortion clinic. This is guaranteed to provide "a laugh a minute!" Think of Fawlty Towers, but with the hotel replaced by a clinic, and with Basil replaced by a comic surgeon!

Ahoy there, Shipman!

Ahoy there, Shipman!

We are also looking forward to Ahoy there, Shipman! and Go, West! in which the fun-filled murders of Harold Shipman and Fred West are recreated in a brilliant series of giggle-packed scripts, which will have you rolling in the aisles. We are hoping that the "alternative" comedian (the sort you don't expect to laugh at) Ricky Gervais will agree to take the part of Harold Shipman.

You'll also be chuckling at Mum, I'm starving!, which is another BBC3 flagship comedy, set in the West African famine. With a galaxy of guest stars appearing - and disappearing - every week!

Hans and Helmut

Hans and Helmut.

Finally, BBC3 goes into comedy territory that has never been fully explored, as it broadcasts Arbeit Macht Frei, starring Hans and Helmut, two lovable concentration camp guards who seem to be having trouble with their gas chambers. It's described as "a brilliant double act worthy of the Two Ronnies!"

Yes, in these days of alternative comedy, it is now BBC3 that leads the world, bringing us hours of fun-filled viewing, as they encourage us to laugh at topics that were previously off-limits, and which might even have been found upsetting by sensitive viewers (ridiculous, eh?)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Church of England to be privatised

Head Office

The prestigious Head Office.

Having discovered that it cannot control the Church of England without provoking a constitutional crisis, the Government has decided to privatise it as a public limited company, to be called the English God Corporation (EGCO). This will be regulated by a new quango, OFGOD (likely to be chaired by Sir Tony Baldry).

Sir Tony Baldry

Sir Tony Baldry - his cunning plan is that EGCO will be bound by the high standards of the Freemasons and the Garrick Club.

The proposed line-up, at least initially, is:

Chairman: H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.

Managing Director: Sir Justin Welby.

Board of Directors: +Bognor Regis, +Newport Pagnell, and various other diocesan representatives beginning with a plus sign. As an Equal Opportunities Employer, EGCO will ensure that many of these are female.

Honorary consultant (non-voting member): The Holy Spirit.

Assets: A huge number of old buildings, some with pointy spires and others with big towers. Currently, mostly unoccupied. Also, large supplies of candles, hymn books, and vestments (in fact, something of a surplice).

Activities: praying, hymn singing, blowing own trumpet (cf. Giles Fraser). Also, extensive charity work, but this will mostly be done away with for financial reasons.

Sir Tony Baldry

At present, only men are allowed to operate this heavy "smiting" machinery.

EGCO is to be floated on the stock market in the near future, and shareholders will be guaranteed the following benefits:

  • Free use of the services provided by EGCO, with coffee and a chocolate biscuit afterwards.
  • Voting rights at the Annual General Meeting (formerly, the "Synod").
  • An excellent post-life benefits package, at least compared with those who have not taken out any other form of post-life insurance.
    WARNING: souls may go down as well as up.
Heaven

This picture is merely illustrative, and shareholders may be sent to alternative destinations.

If the flotation is a success, the Government is already speaking of other privatisations. However there is little to be done about the multi-national Catholico, which is registered in the tax haven of Vatican City. Another difficult task will be to try and regulate the ISLAM business.

ISLAM

ISLAM - unlikely to be impressed by Sir Tony Baldry.

New Hymns 2

Today we are truly honoured to welcome King David, warrior, sex symbol and - as author of the Book of Psalms - the Paul Inwood of the 10th Century BC. Now, your Majesty...

D: Hey, it's not "Your Majesty!" Call me Dave.

Dave

"Dave," working on a psalm.

E: Yes, OK, Dave. Now I know you've had some embarrassing moments in your time, especially when Signor Michelangelo of the Italian paparazzi published a nude sculpture of you, but let's put that to one side now, and talk about your psalms.

D: Well, one likes to think one has a role as a Defender of Faiths, you know, and my psalms do seem to have gone down well with many in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

E: Still, they obviously need a little "refreshing" for modern audiences, and so that's why you're here today, I understand.

D: Yes, I was wondering about my Psalm 23 (as translated by King James himself): The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Can you suggest something, Eccles?

Sweet sheep

A sheep, being sickeningly sweet.

E: Well, my general rule for modern hymns is, don't say too much about God, it's better to sing about yourself. And we could perhaps adapt the tune of "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at," as Ilkley's a good place for sheep, I'm told.

The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep:
I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa."
The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep,
The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep.
Chorus: I like to go "Baa Baa!" 
I like to go "Baa Baa!" 
I like to go "Baa Baa!"
Sheep on Ilkley Moor

This sheep isn't as sweet, but he is on Ilkley Moor.

D: So how do you see the subsequent verses developing?

E: Well, as any modern hymn-writer will tell you, you only need to change one or two lines to get a completely new verse. So Verse 2 could be:

He makes me lie down in a field:
I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa."
He makes me lie down in a field,
He makes me lie down in a field.
Chorus. I like to go "Baa Baa!" (x3)
D: My psalm is quite popular at funerals, you know, probably because of the lines: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Shadow of Death

Double-O-7, why have you brought me to the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

E: Well, Dave, have a go yourself.

D: O.K.

When in the Valley of Death's Shade,
I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa."
When in the Valley of Death's Shade,
When in the Valley of Death's Shade,
Chorus. I like to go "Baa Baa!" (x3)
E: Magnificent, Dave! You've managed to drain out almost all the theology, and to leave just some comfortable stuff about sheep. Kevin Mayhew will be knocking at your door any time now, begging for the publishing rights.

Sheep and table

You make a table for me, Lord...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

St Daryl's church news

Fr Arthur writes:

I want to thank you all for your contributions to St Daryl's mission to Aspatria, which, we are told, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to send them a brand new state-of-the-art wheelie bin, so that they may benefit from the rubbish-disposal facilities that we all take for granted in the developed world. The bin (nicknamed "Arthur" by the grateful Aspatrians) is featured on this year's St Daryl's Christmas card.

Wheelie bin

St Daryl's Christmas card. Well done, we're making a difference!

In return, the Aspatrians, who are very pious Catholics, have sent us a sack of delicious sheeps' eyes as a goodwill present. Help yourselves after the Mass!


We regret that Mr and Mrs Delingpole, formerly regular communicants at St Daryl's, have been excommunicated, and will not be allowed in church again. In my absence last Saturday I delegated the hearing of Confessions to Mrs Thacker, my cleaning lady (and perhaps our future bishop - who knows?) and she discovered that the Delingpole family had admitted to finding a UKIP leaflet "quite interesting, really." Naturally, we notified the police, social services and the drugs squad, but we felt we should set an example too, and so I have provisionally excommunicated the entire Delingpole family, including their late grandmother Doris, whose gravestone has been removed from the cemetery as a precautionary measure.

Burning house

The Delingpole family home, after a visit from social services.


Highlights of Fr Arthur's sermon:

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. Now what do we think of when we hear the word "King?" A 2-metre statue? No, I said "King," not "Küng," Eamon. Let me help you, we think of someone important, perhaps

King Elvis

Aye, every inch a king!

No, Tina, you still haven't quite got the idea. We are more likely to be thinking of someone who sits on a throne. Perhaps someone like this:

Queen and throne

"I do think Boris might have let me sit on his throne. And he's late again."

So when we come into church we should show respect to Christ the King. Cries of "Yo! God!" are helpful (indeed, that's the chorus of a hymn we'll be singing later), but you could also give a little friendly wave in the general direction of the sanctuary. We aren't supposed to genuflect since the days of Vatican II!

Now I want us all to join in this traditional ethnic hymn to Christ the King:


Everybody dance cos we gotta King!
Everybody dance cos we gotta King!
Clap your hands cos we gotta King!
Clap your hands cos we gotta King!

Clegg

Clap your hand cos we gotta King!

Twist and shout cos we gotta King!
Twist and shout cos we gotta King!
Roll on the floor cos we gotta King!
Roll on the floor cos we gotta King!

Julia Gillard ROFLing

Roll on the floor cos we gotta King!

Right, now if you'd like to pick yourselves up off the floor, we'll recite the Creed - or at least the bits we take seriously.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Pope's new book upsets Christmas traditions

The Christian world was reeling this week, with the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's new book Jesus of Nazareth - things you never knew, which attempts to get to the heart of the Christmas story.

Father Christmas

Father Christmas did not fly to Bethlehem in a reindeer-drawn sleigh (the Pope reveals).

The traditional Thought for the Day gospel narrative - which asserts that Father Christmas flew to Bethlehem in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, climbed down the chimney of the stable in which Jesus was lying, and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh, a teddy bear, and a train set - is revealed to be in error.

It is also explained that Jesus was not born on 25th December 0 A.D. (or 0 B.C., to add to the confusion), because the year 0 never existed, and anyway Jesus was a Leo and not a Capricorn - a fact known to professors of astrology for many years, and explained in the books of C.S. Lewis. However, a fragment of the Gospel of Isaiah, beginning: "Leo: I've already explained the main points, but beware a tall dark stranger called Judas" is believed to be a forgery.

Mince pie

Mince pies - not the Messiah's favourite food after all?

Another shocking revelation from Pope Benedict is that Jesus was not particularly fond of mince pies, and, as a new-born baby, he was not eating solid food anyway. Moreover, kosher mince pies would have sold out in the Bethlehem shops by Christmas, and the supermarkets would have already been stocking Easter eggs - a custom persisting to this day, in fact.

The tradition of slumping in front of the television at Christmas to watch the 200th re-run of an old film is also claimed to be non-Biblical. The Holy Family did in fact possess a television set (donated by the wise men who came from the East), but the reception in Bethlehem was very poor, and the Holy Family were too busy entertaining visiting angels, shepherds, wise men, and drunks who had come to the wrong door of the inn, to watch television.

Railway children

The Railway Children - perhaps Joseph video-recorded this film for later?

Finally, Pope Benedict claims that, contrary to tradition, there were no oxen, donkeys, possums, llamas, gorillas or hippopotamuses present at Jesus's birth. "Some scholars think that Joseph may have had a pet hamster called Justin," he writes, "but even this was disputed by St Augustine."

Elephant

No room for Nellie at the inn.

Critical reaction to Pope Benedict's book from outside the Catholic Church has been fairly predictable. Professor Richard Dawkins commented "I haven't read it, but it's vile. So's the Pope. So are all Catholics. Aaaaggggh!" and "Father" Giles Fraser said "This book would make me ashamed to be a Christian, if I were one."

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Some New Hymns

As a change from "Bad hymns," where we say cruel things to modern hymn-writers, we are now going to invite in some older hymn-writers, to tell them where they went wrong. Today we welcome John Henry Newman, author of hymns such as Lead, kindly Light, and Praise to the Holiest in the height, which are hardly ever sung in church these days. Now, why is that?

Newman

Cardinal Newman - where did he go wrong?

E: Welcome, John, and congratulations on your Beatification - I was really rooting for you. Now, your first hymn starts:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Not very snappy, is it? I suppose you never used to play the guitar, did you? Or shake the tambourine?

JHN: That's true, Eccles, I did try to introduce these to the Birmingham Oratory, but the traddies wouldn't have it. So how can I bring my hymn up to date?

E: Well, taking the tune of Walk in the Light, how about rewriting it as:

Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead on, as I'm far from home!

Holmes and Watson

Watson, the night is dark and we are far from home.

JHN: Yes, I think that would work. So Verse 2 could be:

Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
One step's the right thing for me!
E: You're learning quickly, John. This is the sort of hymn that Catholic congregations are singing these days. None of your flowery language!

JHN: Can we do something about Praise to the Holiest in the height, Eccles? It comes from my poem The Dream of Gerontius.

Gerontius

Gerontius, catching up on some sleep.

E: Gerontius? I suppose it's too late to give him a more with-it name? The Dream of Dave, maybe? Well, let's see how it starts:

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise;
In all His words most wonderful,
Most sure in all His ways.
E: I think the problem here, John, is that there are at least four different ideas in that verse. And later on you get very involved in sin and redemption, and all that sort of Jesus-stuff, whereas modern congregations should be singing about how happy they are.

JHN: Yes, I think I'm getting the hang of this now. Could I use the tune of "Follow me, follow me?"

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue,
Oh we like to praise our holy holy Friend,
For He sorted us out, yes He did, for me and you,
So we're saved, yes we're saved, and that's the end. 

Chorus: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 
praise the holy holy Lord... (ad libitum)

up in the heights

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue...

E: Very good, John. You got through the main points of your hymn much more quickly that time, didn't you?

JHN: Thanks for your wise advice, Eccles. Now I see how real hymn-writers work.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tonight's Television

The Vicar of Webly

Dawn French

It's not over until the fat bishop sings.

In tonight's episode of The Vicar of Webly, the Church of England is in crisis after a measure to appoint women bishops is narrowly defeated, and it is realised that they will have to keep taking votes every few months until they get the answer they were supposed to get.

Ambitious Geraldine, the Vicar of Webly, having set her heart on promotion to the cushy job of Bishop of Milton Keynes, is in no doubt where the fault lies. "After weeks of discussion and lobbying, the Church of England made the mistake of allowing two minutes of prayer before the vote," she says. "It is entirely possible that the Holy Spirit intervened at the last minute and blocked the measure. Now is it right that God should be allowed to intervene in a democratic process?"

Holy Spirit dove

The Holy Spirit - dragging Religion into Politics.

Meanwhile, the Catholic church rushes to sympathise with the Anglicans in their time of trouble. In a personal phone call to their new leader, Archbishop-elect Webly, Pope Benedict XVI makes the comforting remark, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"


Duffy the Vampire-slayer

Duffy the vampire slayer

Duffy the Vampire-slayer

The Catholic church has problems of its own, as the spectre of Traditional Catholicism, believed to have been buried in the 1960s, begins to rear its ugly head once more. A foolish old woman called Tina finds herself harassed on all sides, simply for speaking up against the mysterious forces called Magisterium. Banished from San Diego, she takes refuge in a dreadful wasteland called Roehampton.

Now all eyes turn towards Duffy the Vampire-slayer, a clever history student, who decides to rescue Tina from the forces that assail her. He invokes the spectre of Cardinal Newman, a well-known liberal Catholic who wrote regularly about how same-sex marriage, women priests and abortion were necessary for salvation. Duffy calls Newman to his aid in the battle for the soul of the Catholic church, and the fight is on.

Cardinal Newman

John Henry Newman, author of Apologia pro Tina sua.

Will Duffy rescue poor Tina, or will he too be destroyed by the sinister doctrine known as Orthodoxy?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bad Hymns 14

The judges of the Eccles Bad Hymn Award are very pleased to welcome Sister Marie Lydia Pereira, who is going to tell us about her hymn Go, the Mass is ended.

Go away

Some people just won't take a hint.

E: Now, Sister Marie, I think I've managed to extract the main message of your hymn, "Go, the Mass is ended," not least because you repeat it eight times. And a very good message it is too, when the priest says it at the end of the service.

MLP: That's right, Eccles. Of course some traddy priests will insist on saying "Ite, Missa est," which nobody can understand. So the congregation just hangs around wondering what to do next.

E: Yes, it's like guests at a party, isn't it? You look at your watch, you say "My, is that the time?" You yawn a bit, you get out the vacuum cleaner, you say, "I see there's an excellent bus passing in the next 10 minutes," but they just don't take the hint, do they?

Nuns with guns

Sometimes there is only one way to make guests leave.

MLP: You're so right, Eccles. And even in more liberal services, the priest's dismissal tends to get drowned out by the natural gossiping that we indulge in after taking communion.

E: So I can see that a hymn which says, "Clear off, now," would be very useful to a priest.

MLP: Well, exactly. What the congregation doesn't always realise is that the priest may have other appointments. For example, he might wish to bless the church band's new instruments (guitar, comb-and-paper, kazoo and vuvuzela) in readiness for another mass later in the day.

Blessed vuvuzuela

A requiem mass (Gregorian chant), played on a blessed vuvuzuela.

E: But isn't the dismissal supposed to be said by the priest, not repeated eight times by the congregation?

MLP: Alas, it's very hard to get priests to sing my hymn as a solo, Eccles.

E: In fact the whole song is really more appropriate for the priest, and not the congregation, isn't it? "Take God’s Word to others as you’ve heard it spoken to you," for example. A good thing to do, but shouldn't such a command come from the priest, and not the local bank manager sitting behind me?

Bank manager

Now men, I want you to gladden all who meet you. [Do you think that's wise, sir?]

MLP: Bank manager, eh? Should I insert a verse about "Save your money, spend it wisely?" No, that's probably a little off-topic.

E: I think the hymn is perfect as it is, Sister Marie. No need to write any more. Go, the interview is ended.

Hands up

Hands up if you want to leave now.


Previous entries for the Eccles Bad Hynm Award:

Lord of the Dance.    Shine, Jesus, shine.    Enemy of apathy.    Walk in the Light.
Kum Ba Yah.    Follow me.    God's Spirit is in my heart.    Imagine.    Alleluia Ch-ch.
It ain't necessarily so.    I, the Lord of sea and sky.    Colours of day.    The red flag

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Directly-elected bishops

On the day when voters are rushing to the polling stations to elect their own police chiefs for the first time, it was announced today that from now on the Catholic Church would ensure that all future bishops were directly elected (as the American Catholic Countil recommends), rather than relying on a murky process involving the Pope, his Nuncio, and malicious gossip spread by well-known Catholic bloggers.

PC Welby

The Anglicans have had directly-elected bishops for some time.

Although for the time being all bishops will necessarily be male - a great disappointment to Prof. Tina Beattie, who had set her heart on a cosy diocese as a way of relaunching her career - the Catholic church is obliged by law to allow non-Catholics to stand for election.

We spoke to three people who are planning to throw their mitres into the ring, one from each of the largest political parties.

Bishop Boris

Boris Johnson, in cycling mitre.

Manifesto: Cripes! What Westminster needs is a go-ahead bishop who will build cycle paths in the Cathedral, in order to speed up the circulation of the jolly old customers. Then, in the longer term, we shall reduce congestion by moving Westminster Cathedral to a whizzo new island that we're building in the middle of the North Sea.

Religious opinions: Our new liturgy, beginning "What ho, God!" is guaranteed to get the Almighty's attention and give Him a friendly nudge towards smiting our enemies. Under my leadership, the Geiger counter of Catholomania will go zoink! off the scale, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, Romney!

Bishop Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, modelling the BBC-approved mitre.

Manifesto: The Catholic Church needs to rebrand itself as the Dawkins Foundation for Religion and Faith. At present it is too busy focusing on peripheral issues like God and morality, when it needs to be getting out there and preaching the Good News from my books. Science has solved all the problems of the Universe, and so we don't need any more scientists. Er, no, I'll have another go at that one...

Religious opinions: There's probably no God, but then again there may be, and I'm not being indecisive here. So I'm pretty much in touch with mainstream Liberal Catholic opinion on that one.

Bishop Prescott

John Prescott, being measured for a bespoke XXXXXL mitre.

Manifesto: I may not be a pious Cathartic myself, but my friend Tony Blair certainly is, and he thinks it is important that New Labour should be at the heart of the Church. I see the job of a Bishop as one of derogation - so I shall sit in my pew mediocritating, while someone else does the work.

Religious opinions: The Bible is far too complicated for the average bishop in the street to understand, but "Give us this day our daily pies," or whatever the exact wording is, seems to be something I can relate to.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Damian Thompson exercises the right of reply

Damian and his fan club

Damian Thompson, posing with a group of his most loyal readers.

I have always regarded Eccles as one of the most valued commentators on my Telegraph blog: his comments, made from the perspective of a truly saved person, have invariably been incisive and witty, and it was a great loss to all of us when he left the "Holy Smoke" community and decided to concentrate on his own blog.

Eccles

Eccles - a man with very good hair.

Of course I do have one or two other brilliant commentators, with whom I engage regularly on my blog. For example, there is Eccles's Auntie Moly or "molybdenite," who may be a senile gin-soaked old thug, but who is nonetheless always ready to insult people in a way that I can only dream of emulating. Another person whose comments I appreciate is "Sister Muriel," from the church of St Daryl the Apostate down in the southwest, who tells me he is "a priest in good standing, sweetie."

But I digress. Eccles and I have shared many good times together, and I am very grateful to him for giving some publicity to the new hair salon that I have just opened. Here clients can get a truly Catholic haircut while listening to the sound of Gladys Mills playing Bach's Well-tempered Clavier.

Damian's hair salon

My new hair salon

One question that I don't have the space to answer today is: "How on earth did a brilliant journalist like Cristina Odone, The John Humphrys of the Telegraph blogs as she calls herself, ever condescend to join my team?" Eccles describes her as "Damian's cook," and it is true that I rely on her for my morning cupcakes, but she is also a brilliant interrogator, one who does not hesitate to shout abuse at Chris Patten when we hear his voice on the Today Programme.

Eccles does not seem to have fully explained my relations with the "Magic Circle" of bishops which constitutes the main Vaticosceptic opposition to Pope Benedict XVI in this country. He seems to believe that I am in some ways less than totally enthusiastic about Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Well, this is not the case - I regard Cormac as a mentor, and as one of my closest friends.

Happy birthday dear Damian

The Cormac Singers performing Happy Birthday in my honour.

Indeed, at present I am rather worried because the Pope has sent Cormac off to Bangladesh as his special envoy - an arduous trip for an 80-year-old man, which will involve his sleeping in a snake-infested mangrove swamp and living on a diet of frogs and insects. If he survives this, the Holy Father is next proposing to send Cormac as special envoy to the South Pole in his unique Mission to the Penguins.

Grrrrrr...

It's all right, Cardinal, I don't eat meat on Fridays.

Apart from that, Eccles's blog seems to be 100% accurate. As he claims, he is still staying with his aunt as my guest at Castle Thompson, and he really is one of my closest friends: I certainly would not be able to write my weekly Telegraph column without his invaluable ideas.

Damianus

Thanks to Eccles, I am not unknown in Latin-speaking circles!