This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday 30 June 2012

Carry on Blogging

I'm scraping the barrel this week

Damian Thompson

by Damian Thompson

Where does Rowan Williams stand on gay marriage? He keeps giving out contradictory signals. Last week I went round to Lambeth Palace and asked him straight out "Are you in favour of gay marriage?" and he replied "That's sweet of you, Damian, but we can only ever be good friends." This is not the sort of moral leadership we expect.

It's in contrast with the Catholic Church. When I asked the Pope the same question, he threw a bucket of holy water over me and kicked me out of the Vatican. No messing about there!

Pax Vobiscum

Paxman, not afraid to ask difficult questions

As Chloe Smith discovered this week, Jeremy Paxman is something of a blood-crazed ferret, and does not hesitate to ask badly-briefed girls difficult questions about government policy, such as "Do you ever think you are incompetent?" Of course he would never ask such a question of someone really useless who might fight back, such as a Prescott or an Osborne.

I met him recently in the showers at my health club, and asked him "Do you have the balls to take on a real heavyweight?" He hastily covered himself with a towel and ran away, but not before I had seen more than I wanted to.

Not Gay Pride and Prejudice

Vicar! Put thy clothes back on, we implore thee!

My colleague Tom Chivers has written a blog posting mocking the use of the words "Yes" and "No." These are the sort of words one associates with Jane Austen, and he is right to point out that in contemporary usage the forms "Yeah" and "Nah" are considered to be more correct. The sort of person who would say "Yes" is almost certainly an atheist or, worse, a Protestant.

I phoned up Rowan Williams and asked him "You would never say 'No,' would you?" and he replied "Damian, I told you, we can only be good friends." Sometimes his pronouncements are a little hard to understand.

Friday 29 June 2012

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 5

Continued from Chapter 4

1. So it came to pass that Richard called his book The Blind Watchmaker.

2. For the wise men of Oxford University Press had said unto him, "Your title The bloody useless clockmaker is a no-no, squire."

3. But Richard spake unto them saying, "I care not, really. Just keep sending me the royalties."

Richard Dawkins

The blind watchmaker passes on his genes

4. And Richard was hailed as the new Darwin, yea, the only man who really understood how evolution worked.

5. And he considered chartering a boat, and sailing to the Galapagos islands therein, that he might improve on the work of Darwin, and perhaps become even more celebrated.

6. But in the end Richard hardened his heart against the idea; which is why we have no classic Voyage of the Chicken, to place alongside the Voyage of the Beagle.

Galapagos Islands

Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

7. Then Richard spake unto the World, saying, "Genetics is dead. Long live Memetics."

8. And those who liked Richard said, "His work has some memetic value," while those who did not said, "His work has some emetic value," which sounds exactly the same, really; no doubt both were right.

9. So the fame of Richard spread, and he won many awards. The Mooseknuckle Humanists' Club gave him their prestigious Golden Spleen award, and the Emperor Nero Burn-the-Christians revivalists presented him with a pair of engraved silver noseplugs.

10. And Richard was invited to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children. Which is ironic, as he was neither a royalist nor a Christian, even if he belonged in an institution.

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

An audience of children listens with rapt attention

11. And Richard insisted that Christianity and Creationism were the same thing, and that this disproved Christianity. Q.E.D.

12. And God laughed.

13. Finally, even the men of Oxford recognised Richard's greatness, for they promoted him to the rank of Reader in Zoology, which means, "Not quite good enough to be a professor, but still pretty sound on chickens."

14. But there were men who spake against Richard, saying, "He is totally la-la, and needs to be in a mental home."

15. So they sought a hospital with a special ward for deluded megalomaniacs, which might be called the La-la Ward.

16. Which will bring us naturally to the next chapter, for by now Richard had put aside his second wife, and was driven by his genes to seek a third.

The blind matchmaker

The Blind Matchmaker

Continued in Chapter 6

Thursday 28 June 2012

Thought for the Day

Platitude of the Day

Ah, hello, Mr Christ, and welcome to the Today studio. May I call you "JC?" Now, our producer is very pleased that you have agreed to drop in and do a Thought for the Day broadcast today, as it is one in the eye for that Telegraph journalist (Thompson was it?) who said you would never be invited on the programme.

So, when we found out from Twitter that you were here for some sort of "Second Coming" event, our producer said, "Let's invite him, whoever he is." I guess you've got a busy schedule ahead, eh, JC? According to the briefing notes, you'll be judging the quick and the dead later on, then? A sort of World's Got Talent, I suppose.

Frankenstein's monster

He will come to judge the slow and the brain-dead

Still, you've got a nice day for this "Second Coming" of yours. You know, it was wise of you to wait until the Jubilee and the launch of The Fix were over - you wouldn't have wanted your event to be overshadowed by those, would you?

So, JC, I gather that you're not originally from these shores, but that you have been here before. Indeed, according to my notes, your feet in ancient time walked upon England's mountains green. Well, walking is good healthy exercise, and very important in our struggle against climate change, as I'm sure you'll agree.


Probably NOT the Messiah, out for a walk

Now, one of our regular contributors to Thought for the Day, the great Giles Fraser, says that he's very pleased you'll be doing the broadcast. He's something of an admirer of yours, even if he doesn't share very many of your opinions. So if you meet him in the hospitality room, try not to be overawed by his magnificence - he's only human!

Giles Fraser

"Of course Jesus's views need updating for 21st century audiences"

So let's look at the script now. Well, there are one or two problems, as I'm sure you'll appreciate. Could we put in a little work on those "Beatitudes" of yours? I'd suggest something like:

Blessed are ye, if ye struggle for equality and diversity; for ye shall receive large government grants.
Blessed are ye, if ye campaign against global warming; for ye shall receive large research council grants.
Blessed are ye, if ye sing the praises of Europe; for ye shall receive large European grants.
Blessed are ye, if ye renounce God and attack His churches; for the government will make laws to support you.

Perhaps also you could affirm your support for women bishops, abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage? JC, sweetie, that sort of thing does go down terribly well with the sort of audience we're trying to attract.


Eh? What does that mean? It sounds wonderfully ethnically diverse, but I can't place it. Spanish, is it? And please don't shout, I've got a terrible headache...

Second Coming

It's a pity the Event clashes with Euro 2012 and Wimbledon

Tuesday 26 June 2012

The Bishop's Letter

Uncle Arthur

Your bishop

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you know the Pope has asked me to become the Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome (or Vice-Pope for short), and it is with great reluctance that I am leaving the good people of Leeds for pastures new, when my work is still undone.

Vatican of the North

The Vatican of the North

The Holy Father was concerned that I might find the Vatican a little claustrophobic, after the magnificence of Hinsley Hall, but I told him that we should all be prepared to make sacrifices in order to serve God to the best of our abilities.

My successor as Bishop of Leeds has not yet been appointed, but I shall bequeath to him my collection of padlocks, guaranteed to fit church doors of any size, so that he may continue to close churches in the diocese on a regular basis.


Encouraging local industry in Allerton Bywater

In a spirit of Christian Charity I shall ignore one caustic remark made by Damian Thompson, namely "I hope Gammarelli has stocked up on XXXL archiepiscopal rig..." Although I am no longer the slim and athletic ice-skater that I used to be, my enemies will find that I can still be very slippery on occasion.

Arthur Roche

A problem in the 2012 CBCEW Ice-Skating Championships

By the way, I still have 5,000 copies of my most recent video nasty, "The Leeds diocese - what can we close next?" in case anyone would like one.

Goodbye, Bishop

Saying farewell to the Bishop

Monday 25 June 2012

What ho, Gabriele!

Paolo Gabriele

My butler, Paolo Gabriele

"BENEDICT!" screamed my Aunt Agatha. "What's all this I hear about money-laundering?"

I had just been giving an audience to a group of Catholic journalists from the Telegraph, and now had a bit of a headache. "Benny, old bean," said their leader, a man called Damian with funny hair, "don't you think that one of the great spiritual challenges of our day is addiction?"

Personally, I don't think that addressing the Pope as "Benny, old bean," is right - we don't read of Jesus addressing St Peter as "Pete, old bean," do we? - but then Damian is spiritual leader in his own right, so I said nothing. However, after a two-hour lecture on the dangers of compulsively downloading pictures of cupcakes from the Internet - I may have dozed off a little, and got some of the details wrong - I was glad to see Damian, Cristina, Tim and little Will leave. At least it wasn't Tony and Cherie Blair again, telling me how to rewrite 2,000 years of Catholic dogma.

Blair blessing Pope

Tony Blair giving me his blessing

So that is why I was lying in a darkened room, nursing my headache, when the door burst open, and my Aunt Agatha stormed in with her comment about money-laundering.

Now, being Pope isn't as easy as it may seem, you know. It's not all burning up the town in a Popemobile or sticking a "Kick me" sign on "lofty" Cormac when he comes round to unblock the drains - although these things do give some job satisfaction. You also have to be seen in church occasionally, give spiritual guidance to your flock worldwide, and deal with daily obscene phone calls from Sr Margaret Farley (frankly, she talks more like a sea-captain than a nun).

Sex toy

Lifelike blow-up Farley dolls on sale now, as a reappraisal of sexual theology

So I replied to my Aunt Agatha in no uncertain tones: "Really, Aunt, it's not my job to worry about the finances. We have accountants to do that."

"You really are a wastrel, Benedict," snapped my aunt. "It's time you got a proper job. Now, call your man Gabriele: he's the only one who knows what's going on round here."

"Splendid idea, Aunt Agatha," I replied. "Perhaps he can make me one of his pick-me-ups."

I rang the bell, and Gabriele shimmered in. Unfortunately, there was no pick-me-up to be seen: in fact he was carrying a pair of large suitcases.

"So, Gabriele," said my aunt. "Do you know what's going on in the Vatican?"

"Indeed, my lady," replied Gabriele. "It's all explained in these confidential documents. I was just taking them to my friend Gianluigi Nuzzi the journalist, for safe keeping."


A secret Vatican document

"Good man, Gabriele, I knew I could trust you!" I said.

Will Aunt Agatha intervene? Or will the details of the Vatican's annual spending on pizza, chips and beer be released to the press? Will Sr Farley turn up and make an improper suggestion? If we find out, we'll let you know.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Song from Twelfth Night

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.


Or, as portrayed by the Seven Ages of Man...

Young Knowles

When that I was but a little boy called Knowles,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
They found my childish essays full of holes,
For the rain it raineth every day.


When as a young man, known to all as Tim,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
I told Obama what I thought of him,
For the rain it raineth every day.


Sir Henry Morton Stanley in Africa


Then as a young-ish nerd by name of Tom,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
I split infinitives with great aplomb,
For the rain it raineth every day.


When that I was but a balding chap called Dan,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
I spoke and all the Europeans ran,
For the rain it raineth every day.


When that I was an addiction-crazy Dame,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
I wrote six blogs essentially the same,
For the rain it raineth every day.


The Fix: How book-plugging is invading our lives and changing our world


When that I was but an aged man called Norm,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
My trolls were lefties from the lower form,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Old fool

When that I was but a basket-case called Lean,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
I wrote no facts, just propaganda green,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Enough power here to run a washing-machine

A nuclear power station. (Are you sure you've got that right, Geoffrey?)

Friday 22 June 2012

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 4

Continued from Chapter 3

1. And the tragic story which Richard had written, Jean the shellfish, became exceedingly famous. Yeah, almost as famous as the Gospel according to St Damian, that which is called The Fix.

2. And yet these were lean and barren years for Richard, for he was not yet considered to be a great prophet. And so he continued to lecture in Oxford on the ways of the aardvark, etc.

3. For it is written that "aardvark never hurt anyone." However, since this is rather a bad joke, those who repeat it usually regret doing so.


An aardvark, not hurting anyone

4. For six long years he toiled, and then Richard wrote another book, The extended phenotype.

5. For if a book is popular, then the publisher doth demand a sequel, no matter how boring it may be. Just as many now quake in fear, thinking that we shall soon see The Son of Fix.

6. And the same maxim may apply to wives; for after seventeen years Richard put aside Marion, the companion of his bedchamber, and took unto himself a second wife, Eve.

7. Thus, although Marion was an expert in animal behaviour, some say that she could not control the animal behaviour of her husband.

8. For Richard begat a child, and called it Juliet Emma. And lo! His spirits rose and he said "My genes magnify the Lord, or they would do if He existed, which frankly He probably doesn't."

Juliet Emma Dawkins

Congratulations, Dr Dawkins, your wife has given birth to some genes!

9. Then the famous ancestors of Richard, including Black Henry Dawkins the slave-driver, said to themselves, "Perchance young Richard is not such a wimp after all. For he hath passed on our genes, yeah, even unto the next generation."

10. Now Richard came to write a third book, and this is where his life changed. For he stopped being a boring old professional zoologist, and became a boring old professional atheist.

11. And it happened in this wise. Richard, being a man of great wealth, owned many oxen, and asses, and aardvarks. But his most valued possession was a clock.

12. For Richard said to himself, "I am the Lord of Time." Which will be interesting later when we come to discuss his third wife.

13. But one day the clock stopped, and he needs must take it to a clockmaker.

Broken clocks

Clocks repaired by a blind clockmaker

14. But the clockmaker had been blind for many years, and when he returned the clock to Richard, it was damaged beyond hope.

15. And Richard said to himself, "Is this not a metaphor for the whole of Creation? I shall write a book, explaining why the World is in such a mess. Surely it was produced by a blind Creator?"

16. And I shall call the book The bloody useless clockmaker."

Continued in Chapter 5.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Damain is taken into care

I has not been bloggin much recently, and I entrusted de spiritaul nuorishment of my readers to some geust bloggers. Dis is cos after my Anti Moly was put into a care home, I was free, so I decidded to take a holliday. In fact I went to Sevile in Spain, cos my hair was gettin long and I had heard dat dey has good barbers in Sevile.

hairdresser of Seville

De hairdresser of Sevile

In de end de haircut wasn't great, but I buoght a new wig as a present for Damain Thopmson, and a jumbo-sized bottle of hair-restorrer for my dear Anti Moly, who is always so thirsty.

I also got appraoched by a woman called Carman wot works in a cigarete factory, but bein a saved pusson I resisted her charms and came back to London.

When I got back to Castle Thopmson de butler, Will Heaven, had shockin news for me. "Dr Thopmson is not at home," he said. "He has been taken into care."

Heaven explained to me dat Damain had been taken to St Cristina's Home for de Dangerously Addicted. After his luvvly book was published, he decided to devote all his time to pluggin it, and was unabble to stop goin on abuot it.

The Fix The Fix

Suovenirs of DE FIX

All Damain's recent activities have been tailored towards making people aware of DE FIX, and he has filled his home wiv suovenirs rellated to DE FIX.

The Fix The Fix

More suovenirs of DE FIX

Luckily Hannan de chuaffeur was avialable (sometimes he is away wiv his part-time job in Brusells, which involves makin speeches to empty rooms), and he drove me to St Cristina's.

Poor Damian

Poor sick Damain

"Eccles," said Damain to me, "you is a loyal follower of my blogg. I was finkin dis weekend of writin a Saturday colunm about De Fix, Joanne Hairy, addictoin to medicine, De Fix, De Ordinariate, recent books by Tellegrahp bloggers, De Fix, and addictoin to cupcakes. Do you fink dat's a good idea? Maybe I could add somefink about addictoin to computters too. Dat way I cuold secretly plugg De Fix and noboddy wuold notice."

Well, dat seemed OK to me, but I was very worried by Damain's terrible addictoins. Some schoolgirls had bruoght him a get well soon present, you see.


Cupcakes for Damain

We will have to see what we can do to "fix" our dear Damain.

I must remember to blogg about my Anti Moly some time. She got into bad truoble for nude sunbathin, so she is still in custardy.

Anti Moly

Anti Moly sunbathin

I has blotted out de rude bits, cos we saved pussons doesnt put pronography on our bloggs. But it reely is a woeful situatoin.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Celebrity endorsements

A new papal encyclical "Liber Fixus"

Pope reading the Fix

The Pope reading "The Fix"

Liber Fixus beati Damiani mirabilis est, et omnes fideles emptores sint (II euro apud Vaticani Emporium, cum "Vita Sanctae Cristinae Odonis"). Addictio problematicalis est, et Damianus infallibilis est, cum scribit calico-libae et cannabum*.

Pope's butler

Paolo Gabriele

Nunc Paolo Gabriele, meus servus, in vinculis est, quia de multis addictionis passus est.

Oh hang it, they've just arrested Cardinal Google too, the one who does all my Latin translations. Still we're near the end, and my message is simple. Buy Thompson's book, to understand the real evils of the XXIst century. Blessings upon you all.

*of cupcakes and cannabis

John Prescott writes

John Prescott

I used to be addicted to pies

I consider it a great honour and privethedge to be allowed to contribute a small testimonacle about Damian Thompson's book, "The Fix." In the days when I was the second most powerful man in Britain (responsible for so many portfailures at the same time that I never got round to dealing with any of them), I saw many examples of addition in the Cabernet. That creepy nancy-boy Mandelson, for example, addicted to lying, cheating and drinking blood - in the end we sent him to Brussels, the only place where this was considered normal. Then there was Brown, addicted to violence and brutality - we tried making him Prime Minister, but this didn't cure him.

You're nicked

You're nicked, sunshine!

As you may know, I am hoping to become an elected police chief. In this, I have the full support of the criminal fratality, who say that they have always thought of me as a "Pig," and are confident that I will do nothing to upset their traditional way of life. However, I shall certainly make it a priory to deal with addition, and maybe even subtraction as well!

Lord Justice Leveson writes

Just one more question, Dr Thompson

I just can't stop asking questions

Some of you may have heard of the Leveson Enquiry, which I have been running since 1997. It started off as an enquiry into the death of Princess Diana, and I am pleased to say that Mohamed Fayed was finally able to leave the court without a stain on his straitjacket. It then turned into an investigation of Tony Blair's addiction to declaring war on unlikely countries at the drop of a hat (thanks to him, we are still technically at war with Finland, New Zealand and the Vatican, but we expect to surrender any day now). Now new evidence has emerged, and we are investigating phone-tapping, e-mail hacking, and all the other standard methods by which journalists get stories - apart from simply making them up, of course.

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks - addicted to evil

I hope that Damian Thompson's excellent book will help poor Rebekah Brooks come to terms with her many addictions, which go far beyond mere cupcakes.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of joining forces with Damian Thompson, and launching a far-reaching enquiry into all aspects of addiction. I had promised my wife to give up enquiries, but another year or two can't hurt, can it?

Sunday 10 June 2012

Bad Hymns 5

Today's entry for the Eccles Bad Hymn Award is Kum Ba Yah, or, as it is known in Yorkshire, Ee Ba Gum. This is a negro spiritual, which somehow escaped from the Dawkins slave plantations and ended up as a hymn in happy-clappy churches. We had some trouble tracking down the authors, since they quite understandably wanted to remain Anonymous, but in the end we succeeded.

Kum ba yah authors

The authors of Kum ba yah

E: Welcome, Anonymous. Now, what exactly does "Kum ba yah" mean?

A: It means "Come by here," Eccles, and is a reference to Revelation 22:20, "Come, Lord Jesus."

E: I see, yes, it does sound a bit like "Come by here," spoken by a Yorkshireman with a mouthful of chip butties. Why not just write "Come by here?"

A: We wanted to make it more ethnic, you know. That way it doesn't sound so ridiculous when accompanied by guitars and drums.

E: I see we get exactly 30 repetitions of "Kum ba yah". What is it about the number 30? In the previous hymn we discussed, "Walk in the Light" is also repeated exactly 30 times.

A: Is it? Perhaps we'd better add another verse or two and claim the record?

E: Now, apart from "Kum ba yah," the words are very simple. We get "Someone’s laughing," "Someone’s crying," "Someone’s praying," and "Someone’s singing,"

A: Give us a day or two, and we could come up with some extra verses, then. "Someone's sneezing," "Someone's giggling," and "Someone's snoring?"

someone's yawning

Someone's yawning, Lord, Kum ba yah.

E: Yes, that wouldn't make the hymn any worse. Who is this "Someone," anyway?

A: Do you know, we never really discovered that! When we were writing the hymn we were distracted by some noises from next door. Our secretary, not being very bright, thought that our complaints, "Someone's laughing," and so on, were part of the hymn we were dictating to her.

E: Well, thank you very much, Anonymous. I am sure that "Someone's laughing" indeed!

someone's laughing

Someone's laughing, Lord, Kum ba yah.