This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday 31 January 2013

Cafeteria Catholic

BVM crisps

Some confusion about "the real thing" here.

Clive Schlee, the Managing Director of the Away-in-a-Manger chain of shops, has reacted gallantly to a post on this blog asserting that, being in the food retail business, he was naturally inclined to be a Cafeteria Catholic. Indeed, he is now planning to withdraw the controversial line of Virgin Mary crisps, which has led to many enraged deacons furiously ignoring his shops.

His concession has rather taken the wind out of our sails...

Richard Branson

Richard Branson - expecting to rename the "Virgin" brand in the near future.

Still, it seems a pity to waste a blog post, so here is an alternative account of what happened:

I met Elvis C. Leech in his luxuriously-appointed office, which contains statues of Tina Beattie, Hans Küng and Catherine Pepinster as well as the latest issues of the the Tablet and National Catholic Reporter, as he explained his new range of hard-to-swallow products.

Eccles: Elvis, you say that your Virgin Mary crisps are "like the real thing but much drier." What completely batty religious beliefs do you have which lead you to presume that the Blessed Virgin Mary was flavoured with Worcestershire Sauce and chilli?

ECL: Oh, I am a great believer in Nutrition Theology, which associates religious figures with foodstuffs. When one of our staff suggested Virgin Mary crisps, I thought, "What a brilliant conception, Tony! Simply immaculate!" Of course then I had to make certain assumptions...

E: Keep digging, Elvis, you're in a deep hole already.

ECL: Well of course Our Lord is generally linked to bread and wine, so we thought nobody would be offended by our new range of "Christian Butties," which are made with lovingly-baked bread, flavoured with wine made from grapes trodden by the finest French feet.

Treading the grapes

Grapes trodden by the finest French feet.

E: Will there be any other foodstuffs associated with famous religious figures?

ECL: Yes, our market research suggested that the Muslim community would appreciate Mohamburgers, which of course contain only the finest beef, and no horse meat at all. However, we don't expect to make a prophet with that line. Perhaps we should make them from ham instead?

E: You just do that, Elvis, and I am sure that the Muslims will beat a path through your door.

ECL: There's also our new line of "I can't believe it's not Buddha" margarine. Guaranteed to make you lose weight - to enlighten you, in fact.

Buddha knife

I can't believe that's not a Buddha knife!

E: Thank you very much, Elvis. Lots of food for thought there. I wouldn't eat any of it, however.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Writing to your M.P.

Dear Pigface

Not the best way to start your letter.

At this time many people will be writing to their Members of Parliament about the issue of same-sex marriage. We offer a few tips, designed to help you write the most effective and persuasive letter.

There are many ways to start the letter: "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" is the traditional way, but it may lay you open to a charge of transphobia. "Dear Humanoid" is safe enough, and may be used if you are uncertain of the exact species of your M.P.


Dear Humanoid.

Alternatively, you may wish to use the M.P.'s name, but be careful: Sir Archibald FitzHaggis of that Ilk should be addressed as "Dear Archie" or "Dear Spotty" if you know him well enough, but NOT "Dear Ilk." Starting your letter "Harriet, you old cow," "Dave, you slimy creep," or "Gordon, you lazy toad" is unlikely to endear yourself to the M.P. in question.

Next, you may wish to explain how religion influences your views on same-sex marriage. For example, if you are a Christian of some sort, then you probably want to uphold Christ's own views on marriage (unless you are Giles Fraser).

Woman in yukky biretta

How many mistakes can you spot in this picture (not counting Giles Fraser)?

Mentioning that you are a Catholic may be counterproductive if your M.P. has been reading the inane ramblings of Richard Dawkins. It may be safer to say you are an Anglican, and hope that the M.P. will feel sorry for you. Claiming to be a Muslim may be very effective, especially if you offer to go round to the M.P.'s house with some friends to explain yourself further. If you happen to be a Scientologist, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon or Druid, then forget it: your M.P. won't even read the rest of the letter.


So that's agreed, then. We'll say we're Methodists.

Some other persuasive arguments you may use:

Blackmail. Say you know all about Eulalie (this is the P.G. Wodehouse ploy). There are many macho-looking M.P.s in mining constituences who design lingerie in their spare time. If you're called "The Thug of Gritville" you may not want your feminine side to be known. (Of course, being a thug is an equal-opportunity role, and there are many female M.P.s who rejoice in nicknames such as "The Battleaxe of Milton Pangle." Use your initiative here.)

I know all about Peggy

Our "Peggy" range is selling well too.

Money. Most M.P.s love money, and will do anything for a little extra cash. The simple words "I have long respected you, and felt that your life would be enriched by the gift of a duck house" will go straight to the heart of your M.P.

Duck house

Essential equipment for an M.P.

Embarrassment. It may seem excessive, but you could threaten to throw yourself under the M.P.'s car, or simply to turn up on the M.P.'s doorstep with a particularly ugly "love child." There is a problem here, in that most M.P.s, having no sense of shame, are not easily embarrassed.

Well, I hope that has been useful. Probably, it will also be helpful to send a copy of the photo below to your M.P., just to convince him completely.

Poor motherless child

If he sings "Where's your mother gone?" again, I'm going to be sick.

Monday 28 January 2013

The Boat of Fools visits Blogfen

Owl and cat

You stupid cat, you left the iPad at home.

This week our "Mystery Worshipper" attended the church of Blogfen, in which every parishioner is a distinguished blogger.

What was the name of the service? Mass v. 1962.

Did anyone welcome you personally? Yes, when I arrived, they said: "We haven't seen you here before. What blog do you write? What's it about? I explained that I wrote the spiritually nourishing Eccles blog, and they let me enter.

Who conducted the service? Fr Tim Finigan, one of the famous "Finigan and Finnegan" team of priestly bloggers.

Finigan and Finnegan

Fr Finigan discusses a question of hermeneutics with Fr Finnegan.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? People were piously consulting their iPads. Looking at my neighbour, I could see that she was drafting a post for her blog, although she hid the screen when I tried to read it.

What books did the congregation use during the service? No books! They all had iPads, smartphones, or laptops. One more traditionalist worshipper insisted on using an older computer.


A traditionalist worshipper, refusing to use a post-Vatican II computer.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? Fr F. explained the Hermeneutic of Rupture, which meant that, although worship was best conducted in line with traditional methods, it was necessary to reject some old-fashioned technology (here he glared at the blogger pictured above, who was now feeding a paper tape into his IBM mainframe).

Mulier Fortis

The women all wore traditional mantillas at Mass.

Did anything distract you? Yes, there were some children present. They were mostly blogging away piously throughout the service, but occasionally they hit each other with their iPads.

Baby with iPad

A young blogger learns about bytes.

How would you describe the after-service coffee? In fact, full details were being written up for even as I drank it. We were served Musket Monk coffee, which had been sent as a present from a blogging priest in the USA whose name I didn't catch.

Comedy vicar

Coming soon - we visit a totally different kind of service.

Sunday 27 January 2013


Phil Broadhurst

Hello, Damian. Speak later...

Many people only write blog posts when they have something interesting to say, and they are not too concerned with the number of hits they get. Others, however, are under contract to write 1000 words each week, and they lie awake at night worrying about their hit count.

Things are particularly bad at the Daily Telegraph, where the influx of a new generation of unreadable bloggers has made the blogs editor look very foolish. Some bloggers have been very successful - for example, cheeky Tom Chivers knows precisely what his largely conservative audience wants to hear, and writes exactly the opposite. Although he tries to give the impression that he spends his days discussing Che Guevara while drifting along in a cannabis-induced haze, the fact is that he is a stalwart of his local Conservative club; most days he takes the 7.53 from Surbiton, wearing a pin-striped suit and carrying a rolled-up umbrella.

Tom Chivers

Tom Chivers and his friends on their way to work.

Other bloggers recruited have been less successful. William Handsome, the etiquette correspondent, recently hit the scene with a fascinating post on "Should you blow your nose on your neighbour's sleeve in the Underground?" however, his follow-up post, "Dropping your trousers in church is only for Harrovians and other oiks," was rejected for being too Catholic.

Harrovian in church

A Harrovian is removed from the Brompton Oratory.

Which brings us to poor Damian Thompson, author of a book on addiction called Apologia Pro Vita Sua or, in the English translation, I'm sorry, I can't stop eating Ryvitas. Reduced to writing Saturday columns of ever-increasing fatuousness, he took the unusual step of hiring Phil Istine, a professional troll, in order to keep discussions going on his blog.

Phil Istine is a solitary man, whose main hobbies are snooker, drinking, and stealing underwear off people's washing lines. But he has a dazzling array of anti-Catholic sockpuppets, designed to provoke the traditional readership of the "Holy Smoke" blog into paroxysms of rage.

On-line presence

"I like to maintain an on-line presence," says Phil.

Among Phil's 100+ sockpuppets are such memorable characters as Phil, the lapsing Catholic, who hates traditionalism; Daryl, the faithful post-Vatican II Catholic, who hates traditionalism; Deborah, the liberal Anglican, who wants women bishops and hates traditionalism; Pau, the homosexual priest who stalks other posters and hates traditionalism; and Wendy, the lovestruck girl who wants to seduce a monk, but - and this is a neat touch - hates traditionalism.

Phil is of course immune from banning, as he is on the Telegraph payroll; moreover, anyone who criticises him or points out what he is doing is also banned. "I've had a good bag recently," boasts Phil. "Two Anglican priests, one retired schoolmaster, a young wife, and a Welsh anaesthetist. The more respected they are, the harder they fall!"

Geoffrey Sales

J.B. Priestley - banned because his writing put Damian's to shame.

Others who are immune to banning, as their witless remarks make Damian look good in comparison, are the notoriously senile Australian harridan "Anti Moly," or molybdenite (herself a skilled user of sockpuppets), and her sidekick MickyRoss the biologist, who recently pleaded guilty to 24 sample charges of mollusc-molesting.

But Damian's days are surely numbered, and, if so, then Phil will be looking for a new outlet for his trolling skills. If you can, please offer him a job on your blog.


Stockport bus station. Hang around here, and you'll soon find Phil.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Anyone for Tina's?

Tina Beattie

Tina Beattie, the Billie-Jean Küng of Catholicism.

Fans of the great tennis star Ma Tina Unhinged are delighted to report that she will soon be appearing at Wimbledon. For a while it seemed that the career of the "bad girl of Catholicism" had stalled, after her Clifton suspension and her disqualification at San Diego, but she has now qualified for the Pugnacious Disloyola Cup (awarded by an group of very independent-minded Jesuits).

Women's doubles

Women's Doubles - but should they be allowed to marry their partners?

So what can we expect to see from Ma Tina? Will she be able to obey the rules this time? Critics have said that her style is riddled with errors, starting with even the most basic service: for her it was like an act of homosexual intercourse. This caused apoplexy in the judges, who decided she had definitely overstepped the line.

Ma Tina's big weakness is her volley: she floats a lot of balls in the air - such as her argument from the doctrine of the Trinity that an embryo is not a person - only to have them smashed down by more orthodox players ("her ideas on the whole business are absurd," said one obstetrician, Dr Rafael Natal).


Roger, fed up with her.

On the whole, the prospects for Ma Tina do not look good, and it seems clear that she will not be winning many Catholic trophies in the near future, even if she survives Wimbledon. Apart from the Tablet, a paper known to maintain a sentimental affection for maverick players, few commentators now take her seriously.


Ma Tina - Now rot all over?

Thursday 17 January 2013

The Da Mian Cod, and others

An excerpt from Dante Brown's new novel Infernal Cheek:

Renowned blood-crazed 50-something Telegraph blog supremo Damian Thompson was standing energetically in Berlin's famous Louvre Museum, at the heart of Piccadilly Square, admiring Michael Angelus's 1504 marble sculpture "David," which portrays the Arabian King David on the point of biting into a cupcake.

David and cupcake

David. Note the cupcake in his left hand.

"Cupcakes," thought Damian pensively, meditating in a contemplative fashion on the highly addictive edible foodstuff, whereupon which he had written so movingly in his book on addiction, The Fix, which he himself had written. And this reminded him, it was the day on which the aforementioned memoir on addiction was to be published in paperback (his contacts at the heart of the publishing world had told him that this would be something like a hardback, only with softer covers).

Yellow Fix

The Fix, in new Hide-de-Vomit(TM) yellow covers..

Damian had not blogged on addiction recently. His protège (a Latin word meaning "dogsbody"), slightly-renowned 30-something leftie atheist blogger Tom Chivers, had been promoted from his key job of assistant deputy strategic events supremo, a position in which he had been mainly responsible for making the tea, and was now allowed to write the occasional Telegraph column in the Saturday "moron" slot. This in turn freed up more chronological time for Damian, in which he could blog about religious matters from a Catholic - and sometimes papist - viewpoint.

Or - and here Damian crossed himself religiously, making a cross symbol familiar to all Christians since Pope Pius XII - there was another possibility. He could use his blog to plug his terrible book again!

Father Xylophone writes:

I had a great day today with a Texas military firing squad.

Firing squad

Father X joins the liturgical Firing Squad.

I was delighted when the Texas militia contacted me, saying that an army chaplain had been court-martialled and found guilty of three capital offences, namely, (i) being a liberal; (ii) reading the National Catholic Reporter (aka Fishwrap); and (iii) arguing with me on my blog. The penalty for these was execution by firing squad, and as a priest in good standing who understands the importance of a well-armed priesthood, I was delighted to assist. (Aim at the black cassock, and stain it red, as I always say.)

I had of course been practising my sharp-shooting beforehand, so as not to let the side down by missing the target: the colonel complimented us on the unerring way in which we exercised our liturgical duty, blasting the renegade priest to smithereens.

QUAERITUR: Should one aim for the head, or the heart? Generally, Cannon Law says that one should aim for the head from Advent to Easter, and otherwise aim for the heart.

Liberal Catholic

Don't mess with Fr X, unless you want to end up like this.

Ordain a Lassie!

A new video has been released by the campaign for the ordination of dogs, called Ordain a Lassie. We do not have space to discuss this in detail, but the campaign is based on the observation that in some churches dogs are already being allowed to act as altar-servers.

Dog server

"Bark!" the Herald angels sing.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Priests may still wear religious symbols in church

In a landmark decision, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that priests will still be allowed to wear symbols of their faith in church, except when they are banned on Health and Safety grounds. On the other hand, priests will be forbidden from preaching any controversial religious doctrines, such as the existence of Good and Evil.


How many Health and Safety violations can you count?

In the picture above, several Health and Safety violations were noted. In future, the priest and servers will be required to wear flame-proof clothing if they wish to continue to use lighted candles in the church. It will also be necessary to have a fire extinguisher prominently displayed on the altar. Moreover, the crucifix at the east end of the church must be removed, in case it falls on someone.

Liturgical gas mask

Approved vestments for priests, in cases where incense levels are dangerously high.

Some people have argued that forcing a priest to wear a gas mask while preaching may make his words totally inaudible. This, however, is not normally considered to be a disadvantage. Holy Water is also banned on Health and Safety grounds, as it is known to cause severe burning to demons, devils and liberal Catholics.

Following the ECHR rulings, anyone now has the human right to object should the priest attempt to utter controversial religious doctrines, even in his own church. This includes vicious bullying statements such as "You know, marriage is really supposed to be between a man and a woman, not three men and an elephant" or "Alas, we don't have the facilities for conducting a special Mass for Catholics who like being handcuffed to the bed and slapped with wet fish."

Fish-slappers Mass

On our way to Mass.

In a landmark piece of opportunism, David Cameron today said, "I am proud that our government has preserved the right of priests to wear religious symbols in church; this is what Conservatism is all about."

Millions demonstrate against Giles Fraser

Non a Gilles

View from Eiffel's Tour de France of the Non à Gilles demo.

On Sunday a massive demonstration was held in Paris against the French government's proposal to recognise people such as Giles Fraser, Le curé comique, as real priests. The organizers estimated the attendance at over a million, the police said 800,000, and the government 100,000; the BBC reported that there were only about a dozen people taking part, preferring to concentrate on the Amamus Gilem Fraserum demonstration in Rome, where four girls took off their clothes in order to show to the Pope their well-developed arguments for supporting the wacky Englishman.

Onion sellers

Two onion-sellers discussing Giles Fraser.

Said a typical French demonstrator, Armand Legue, "In France we have a tradition of Laïcité. The state is purely secular, and the priests are religious. We cannot accept a situation in which people whose actions are based on secular values are allowed to operate as priests."

Supporting Giles

Supporters of Giles Fraser have offered to take him into care.

Back in Britain, over 1000 Catholic bishops and priests have written a letter to the Daily Telegraph complaining of the Government's plans to redefine priesthood. "We don't think the definition of a 'priest' of the established church should be extended to include the likes of Giles Fraser," they explained. "He spends his time calling harmless people 'bigots,' and accusing them of 'persecuting gays', simply because they preach the same concept of marriage as Christ Himself did." The Government, however, is apparently set on a policy of extending the priesthood to include deviant minorities such as Guardian columnists and Thought for the Day ranters.

Blandings Castle

Blandings Castle, with controversial Giles Fraser lookalike (L).

Curiously, the BBC itself has also been criticised this week, for broadcasting an adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle, in which one of the characters was clearly identifiable as a parody of Giles Fraser. Said a Fraser supporter, "Admittedly, she did little but grunt 'Oink, oink,' but the scene in which she relieved herself over a copy of the Guardian struck some of us as a little too close to home."

Sunday 13 January 2013

1000 priests write to the Telegraph

David Cameron

Cuculus cameronus.


As we were walking down Whitehall today, we distinctly heard the sound of the cuckoo. It was croaking its characteristic cry of Gayma-Ridge Gayma-Ridge. Was this the first cuckoo of spring?

Rt Rev Philip Egan
Bishop of Portsmouth

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon
Bishop of Nottingham

Kieran Conry

Not Kieran Conry - couldn't find a pen.

Rt Rev Paul Priest
Bishop of Corby (Could I add a few paragraphs here about logical paradigms? No?)

Lots of priests called Finigan, Finnegan etc
Representing the "Finnegans Wake" blogging consortium

Ray Blake

Rev Ray Blake-Seven (with "Zuhlsdorf" liturgical handgun), a rival blogger

Rev Sir Charles Dilke Bt Cong Orat
Mission to the aristocracy

Mitred Archpriest Alexander Nadson
Man with the fanciest headgear

Mitred archpriest

What the well-dressed mitred archpriest is wearing this season.

Mgr Andrew Summersgill
Magic Circle

Rt Rev Mgr Keith Newton
Ordinary, Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, mission to Soho


Rev G.K. Ale, Abbot of Bury St Edmund's

Mgr Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All

... and more.



David Cameron

Saturday 12 January 2013

The Boat of Fools visits the Nave

Boat of fools

Embarking upon atheism.

Our "Mystery Worshipper" was present in the Nave, Canonbury, for the inaugural Atheist Service organized by two obscure stand-up comedians (what else?), Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans.

What was the name of the service? The Mass Delusion.

How full was the building? Very full. Most of the people attending were journalists, anxious to see what it was all about. There were half-a-dozen "mystery worshippers," attired like me in masks, and a contingent from the Tablet, who seemed to be joining in the service with suspicious enthusiasm.

Did anyone welcome you personally? Well, not personally, but there was an old grumpy-looking man, who kept muttering "NON CREDO!" at all who entered.

I don't believe!


How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? Lots of idle chatter, and not much reverence. Excited muttering as celebrities entered: "Isn't that Giles Whatsit who does the Thought for the Day?" "There's Ma Popehater!" "A Rolls Royce is drawing up - Polly Toynbee must be gracing us with her presence!"

What were the exact opening words of the service? In the name of Dawkins: Biologist, Theologian and Selfish Gene. Amen.

What books etc. did the congregation use during the service? This was a bone of contention, as some wanted to use the Latin Atheist Liturgy of 1962, whereas others had the new English translation of 2011. In the end, the traddies read from the former, the modernists from the latter, and a third group just shouted out deep theological killer arguments such as "sky fairy," "men in dresses" and "bronze-age goatherds."

Did anything distract you? Yes, they had a guest performance from the Liverpool liturgical lapdancers, at the point in the service where we venerated the relics of Richard Dawkins (an old pair of his socks). However, I think atheism is too dignified a faith to be spoiled by a lot of under-dressed girls showing their... well, never mind.

Lapp dancers

What Liverpool Cathedral thought they would get when they asked for Lapp dancers.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? The vicar (Fr Sanderson Jones) lived up to his reputation as a stand-up comedian. First, he told us that a funny thing had happened to him on his way to the church... Then again, he asked us, how could one tell that an elephant had been in one's fridge? Finally, he explained that when the Pope was a kid, he used to pray every night for a new bike. But the Lord doesn't work that way. So he just stole one and asked Him to forgive him. And in a very real sense, are we not all looking for a new bicycle?

Which part of the service was like being in heaven? The bit where Stephen Fry tripped over his ego, and sprained his ankle. How we laughed.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place? Other place? Oh, you mean Roehampton? The bit when Tina Beattie got up and gave us The Lecture The Pope Tried To Ban.

What happened at the end of the service? We all joined in a chorus of "Amazing Disgrace," with its classic line: "I once was found, but now I'm lost."

Grace in a maze

Grace in a maze (how sweet the sound) - not wanted here!

How would you describe the after-service coffee? Definitely not made by Mystic Monks or even Numinous Nuns. I wanted to have faith in the coffee, but they told me there were no grounds for it. The tea came from Scotland, and it was based on a complete Lockerbie leaf, ho ho.

Atheist coffee

No grounds for belief.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian? You bet.