This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday 28 February 2014

Eccles bad hymn award - the winners!

Well, after discussing 27 nominations for the Eccles Bad Hymn Award, it's time to give out some prizes. In the end we decided to disqualify those hymns that are not really intended to be religious, such as Imagine, My Way, or Ding-Dong! The witch is dead, restricting attention to allegedly Christian hymns.

The first question was what to call the awards. Kevins (after Mayhew)? Estelles (after White)? Grahams (after Kendrick)? No, all these people were contenders for awards in their own right. Annibales (after Bugnini)? No, too Catholic, and after all our brothers and sisters in the Church of England, and elsewhere, often share our pain.

Birdie song

The Birdie Song, performed by the Tweets. Full video here.

Inspired by an old blog post by Damian Thompson (now deleted), we have decided to call the awards "Birdies", after the famous Birdie Song of Werner Thomas.

To hand out the award, we would have liked to have invited the late Douglas Adams, who pioneered the concept of Vogon poetry, or else perhaps the poet William McGonagall. Since that was not possible, we are delighted to welcome the nearest modern equivalent, the former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion. So, let's have the winners.

Andrew Motion

Sir Andrew Motion regrets missing out on the bad hymn gravy train.

MOST REPETITIVE HYMN. Shared by "Walk in the Light" (Damian Lundy, 30 repetitions) and "Kumbayah" (anon, also 30), with an honourable mention to "Our God reigns" (Leonard E. Smith, 24).

BIGGEST LIE. "'I am the Lord of the Dance,' said he." (Sidney Carter).

Sidney Carton

Sidney Carton, guillotined in mistake for Sidney Carter.

LEAST SACRED WORDS "Smell of bacon as I fasten up my laces, and the song the milkman sings" (Estelle White).

LEAST LIKELY TO BE RELEVANT TO ANYTHING. "If I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear, I'd thank you, Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair" (Brian Howard). With an honourable mention for "You don't need two shirts to your back" (Alan Dale).

LET'S SING ANY OLD GIBBERISH AWARD. "Kumbayah". With an honourable mention for "Alleluia Ch-ch" (Inwood).

The Scream

Someone's screaming, Lord, Kumbayah!

HYMNS ARE ABOUT YOU, NOT GOD, AWARD. "I watch the sunrise" (John Glynn).


Bobby Moore

Graham Kendrick kisses his "Birdie".

Previous entries for the Eccles Bad Hymn 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.
Go, the Mass is ended.    I watch the sunrise.    Bind us together, Lord.    Our god reigns.
My way.    Ding-Dong! The witch is dead.    If I were a butterfly.
Journeys ended, journeys begun.    The Galilee song.    The perfect face.
Jesus Christ the apple tree.    On eagle's wings.    Moses, I know you're the man.
The Marseillaise.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

The Unbelievers

Learning from the excellent Protect the Pope site that Richard Dawkins's film The Unbelievers has been a total flop, grossing only $14,000 worldwide, this blog has decided to help Richard by providing some publicity for his work. Here are some of the highlights of the movie, a modern Gone with the Windbag, which puts God firmly in His place once and for all!

Dawkins and rabbit

The hero, Richard, has an invisible rabbit, Harvey, as his best friend.

The movie is a subtle blend of comedy, drama and tragedy, as it recounts the story of a learned professor who is keen to promote science and reason. Any resemblance to other identifiable films is purely coincidental.

on the buses

"There's probably no God." Richard goes "on the buses" but loses his selfish jeans.

The Unbelievers features many other leading thinkers of our time, such as Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard, as they pursue a spiritual journey away from God with hilarious consequences!

Annie Hall

Romantic hero Woody Allen buys the complete works of Dawkins for Diane Keaton.

Faith-heads everywhere have been struck with terror, as Richard's dramatic story exposes the fact that all religions are false - stands to reason, doesn't it? - and that a humble biologist knows more than all the theologians who ever lived.

It's stopped! I knew I shouldn't have bought it from a blind watchmaker!

Life is not always straightforward for our hero; for example, thanks to direct intervention from Al-Qaeda, Richard's attempts to tour the world with a pot of honey are thwarted after an unsympathetic airport security officer confiscates it.

Honey I shrunk the kids

Kids, they shrunk my honey!

This film will make you, in turn, laugh, cry, sneeze, fall asleep, throw up, and jump out of the window. No wonder the Vatican refused to show it in their Pius X Cinema!

David Brent

Ricky Gervais demonstrates the liturgical dancing that's so important in modern worship.

Well, a short article like this can only give a flavour of the film which - in the eyes of some commentators - is funnier than Titanic, more romantic than Psycho, and more philosophically profound than Jaws: it treats themes that even Snow White and the Seven Dwarves dared not discuss. You want to see it really, don't you? Don't you? Don't you?


He's BEHIND YOU, Richard!

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Harriet Harman linked to sinister organization

MP Harriet Harman was under increasing pressure today to grovel on the floor and apologise, after six days of uncomfortable questions about claims in the Daily Mail that she had had links with the Labour Party since the 1970s.

Harriet Harman

An incriminating photo from the 1980s.

The Labour Party, although currently very much a secret organization - so secret that nobody can remember the name of its leader - has in past times been very influential as a pressure group. It is said that Harriet Harman is still a member of a "shadowy cabinet" consisting of Labour Party members.

Labour logo

A nightmarish sigil used by "LP" members.

In fact, although the Daily Mail has made much of Harriet Harman's alleged connections in the last week, this is scarcely news to experienced Harman-watchers. For example the satirical magazine Private Eye has long claimed that Harman was associated with a man known only as "Gordon" who disappeared mysteriously in May 2010. Another person who has not hesitated to expose the sordid facts about Harman is Damian Thompson of the Telegraph: in a hard-hitting article "How Hattie’s friends defended socialism" he also revealed that MP Michael Fabricant has a bad hairstyle (I'm not making this bit up).

Michael Fabricant

The man with pre-fabricated hair.

The LP, as it is known, has been associated with many dubious activities; for example, it was at one time led by a mysterious "Tony", who invaded Iraq looking for "weapons of Mass Destruction" - ironically, since he later took refuge in the Catholic church, where Mass destruction has been taking place for many years. The LP is seen by many as a severe threat to children, having permitted numerous deaths by abortion and the closure of adoption agencies. More recently, most of its members have enthusiastically embraced the destruction of traditional marriage and family life.


Leo XIII - a leftie pope, but he would be horrified by Harriet Harman.

It is clear that this scandal is not going to go away, and, until Harriet Harman apologises for her links with the LP - which, after all, might be seen as a simple error of judgement - she is going to be under increasing pressure to quit.

Monday 24 February 2014


Today we have a new recruit to the Eccles Bible Class, namely Graham Norton, a TV "celebrity", who described Catholics defending traditional marriage as "rats trapped in the corner of a barn". In order to help the poor man learn some manners, it was decided that he should come along to this month's lesson, which covers the book of Tobit. Hello, Graham!

Norman Tebbit

Tobit (also called Tebbit).

Now, Graham, we don't have any rats for you in the book of Tobit, although there is a fish that attempts to devour the foot of Tobit's son, Tobias. Some good comes of this, as after overcoming the fish, Tobias is told: If thou put a little piece of its heart upon coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kind of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them. We'll try that one on you later, Graham!

Toby Young

Tobias (also called Toby).

Still, let's start at the beginning. It's a bit of a tangled story, as both T senior and T junior are referred to as Tobias. To avoid confusion, we'll call them Tebbit and Toby (or young Toby). Now they are both righteous chaps, living in exile in the Telegraph blogs Nineveh. Two problems are dealt with in this book:

1. Tebbit goes to sleep under a swallow's nest, gets hot dung in his eyes, and goes blind. I suppose the modern equivalent is watching Graham Norton on television. Only joking, Graham!

2. In faraway Rages, a city of the Medes, a lady called Sara has got problems with demons. Indeed, her seven husbands have been killed by Asmodeus "at their first going in unto her". Don't snigger at the back, there, Fry.


Asmodeus, the demon of lust (from his Facebook page).

So off goes Toby ("On your bike!" says his father, in some translations), and he meets the fish. Fortunately, he is under the protection of the angel Raphael, which means that he is going to win through in the end. He marries Sara, his kinswoman, and drives away the demon by burning the fish's liver in his bedroom. Of course, the bedroom smells of burnt fish for a long time afterwards, but this is a small price to pay for married bliss. Raphael binds the devil, and we hear no more of him. Do spare a thought for Raguel, Sarah's father, who digs a grave for Toby only to find that it isn't needed.

Toby goes back to see Tebbit, and uses the fish's gall to cure his father's blindness. Many years later, Tebbit dies, and Toby leaves Nineveh - which is doomed, as we'll see later when we reach Jonah - to return to the land of the Medes.

Tobias and the fish

Toby and the fish.

Now, this is a great book of fish recipes, but that's not really the point. One of the themes - sorry, Graham, it really isn't your day - is marriage. And when the third night is past, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, ... that sort of thing. Chapter 4, old Tebbit's advice to young Toby, is also hot on charity, wisdom, avoiding pride, praying, voting Conservative, etc.

Ah, Dawkins, I see your hand is up. I think I know what you're going to say: "Fish gall doesn't cure blindness, there are no such things as demons, or angels. Giving alms isn't going to benefit you personally. There's nothing wrong with a bit of lust." Shall we make it easy for you, as you're a beginner? Look at some of the instructive moral teaching, don't worry too much about the supernatural elements for now - I know they give you a headache - and leave it at that. Oh, and here's your guardian angel to escort you home.

Darwin's angel

John Cornwell? Doesn't he write rubbish books about popes called Pius?

Saturday 22 February 2014

Cardinal Nichols profiles Damian Thompson

This morning Damian Thompson - brought up in Reading and a life-long fan of the Catholic Church - was expected to have dressed in the scarlet silk of a Telegraph deputy editor for the first time. However, it was not to be.

Vin and Dame

I explain to Damian where he went wrong.

Some commentators even thought that Damian might one day achieve the "eminence" of a Benedict Brogan XVI or James-Pole II ("Darling Pole" to his admirers) but certain dubious incidents in his Telegraph Blogs Diocese may have delayed his elevation.

For example, the notorious "Gay" blogs, held by Fr Graeme Archer, shocked traditional Catholics. Moreover, many readers were appalled by the sentiments expressed by Professor Tina Odone, who was allowed to give so-called "Catholic" lectures in the diocese.


Sorry, Damian, no scarlet clothes for you!

Damian-haters are wrong when they suggest that he's a man of weak or wavering faith. On the contrary, it's partly his determination to get lots of hits on his blog that drives him to drivel on constantly about Noele Gordon or Soreen malt-bread, or to write four anti-UKIP posts in a week.

chocolate Pope

Chocolate: the Pope's answer to Damian's obsession with cupcakes and custard.

As one middle-aged Catholic troll told me wistfully yesterday, "Other newspapers have writers who generate a buzz because their writing is so dynamic. Thompson is just so bland."

Dr Damian

The simple vestments of a blogs editor.

Still, with a change of leadership at the Telegraph, with traditionalist Pope Gallagher surrendering the ancient chair of Barclay to Pope MacGregor, liberal attitudes are on the ascendant, even if the circulation doesn't seem to be. Thompson has changed his style, and there is hope yet that he may become a prince of the Telegraph.

Cameron train

David Cameron, a life-long friend of Damian Thompson.

But put it this way: Bill Deedes he ain't.

Was that OK, Eccles? I'm a bit busy today - been invited to a booze-up in Rome! Yours ever, Vin (rouge!).

Thursday 20 February 2014

Sacred cows

The "two cows" joke, in a greatly expanded version, can be found here. For example:
You have two cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have two cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, 
and then throws the milk away.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, 
because you want three cows.

two cows

These are cows.

Recent research has found some other ways of managing cows.

ANGLICANISM: You have two cows. They would like to marry, but this is not allowed. Still, you may bless their union. They have no calves.

ACTA: You have two elderly cows. They tell you they live in fear because the Vatican won't allow them to be ordained or to use contraception.

LITURGIST: You have two cows. The traditional advice is that they should say "Moo". However, you prefer the "modernist" translation, and encourage them to say "Baa".

sheep and cow

A liturgist (L) training a cow to say "Baa".

ZUHLSDORFITE: You have two cows. You provide them with handguns, because they have a right to bear arms. When you go to milk them, they shoot you.

POPE FRANCISCAN: You have two cows. You are reported as saying that milking cows is simply a fashion. A month later, it is revealed that you said nothing of the kind.

DAWKINSITE: You have two test-tubes containing cow DNA. They don't seem to produce any milk, but then milk is a fictional concept created by faith-heads.


Stop worrying, there's probably no milk!

BLOGGER: You have two cows. They spend all their time getting into fights with other cows, and saying how much they hate them, before retiring to their shed in disgust.

CHUCK SMITHITE: You have two cows, and you send them to the Calvery Chapel (of course). They start to leave little piles of dung all over the place.

TABLETIST: You have two cows. You sell them a magazine which is supposed to be of interest to cows. They read it, and wonder why it contains so many articles on bullfighting and recipes for steak pie.


Milking a cow, the Hans Kühe way.

I am sure that my loyal readers (both of them) will have further suggestions.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Reading Francis through Eccles

Pope Francis has a habit of making off-the-cuff remarks, some of which are misreported, mistranslated, misunderstood, or simply too profound to be understood immediately. As a service to our long-suffering readers, we present a cut-out-and-throw-away guide to some of the Holy Father's alleged obiter dicta.


That's a fine Pinocchio puppet. May we borrow it for the Good Friday Mass in Rome?

Eccles writes: Pope Francis is known for his courtesy. Rather than telling people to stop patronizing God and dumbing down his worship, he uses a gently ironic tone. The priest to whom these words were spoken is now a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, who offers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, replacing Pinocchio with a large Pius X puppet.

Pope and Hollande

How nice to see you, President Hollande. I am a great admirer of yours.

In fact, what the Pope said was, "Thou hast had five mistresses: and she whom thou now hast is not thy wife, either, you dirty old man (John 4:18). Oh, and you can drop that stupid same-sex marriage nonsense too." As a result, President Hollande has vowed to lead a much better life, and is now training as a Catholic priest (fortunately, he has never married).

dove and crow

Will someone do something about that bloody crow?

Almost certainly, Pope Francis said nothing of the sort. We believe he said, "As St Francis did, I love all God's creatures. Although, to be fair, it is sometimes hard to love mosquitoes."

angry Francis

Self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagians? Arentchasickofem?

Pope Francis's words were in fact a little more nuanced. "Who am I to judge if people sincerely wish to practise neo-pelagianism? Of course I prefer them to do so in a non-Promethean way, if at all possible. And if they insist on being self-absorbed as well, then perhaps they should think again about the possible implications of their practices."

papal mass

The ancient liturgy is just a fashion.

Of course no Pope would ever make a derogatory comment about the Latin Mass, given that its importance was stressed at the Vatican II council, and the fact that Catholics throughout the ages have treasured its beauty, richness, and holiness. Clearly, the Holy Father was simply trying to be "nice" to a group of Latin-hating Czechs, including the notorious Basil Lovtuš, Pavel Invód, and representatives of the infamous Bíttapil newspaper.

Friday 14 February 2014

Celebrities move to Belgium

Belgium has long been an attractive place for tax exiles: for example, in recent years the rock singer Johnny Hallyday and the actor Gérard Depardieu have both applied for Belgian citizenship. And this week, Adolf Hitler, 124, a retired politician, announced that he and some close friends would also be moving to the land of the sprout.


Hitler begins his house-hunting.

Herr Hitler had formerly been a resident of North Korea; however, as he says laughingly, "The political system there is great, but I get a bit tired of hot dogs made from real poodles. With the passing of this new law in Belgium, permitting the euthanasia of children, I feel I am really moving to a country that suits me."

Hitler has long been an admirer of Belgium - indeed, for a few years in the 1940s he owned it - although he never dreamed that his ideas would come back into fashion so soon. However, not all Belgians welcome the new law, and Mlle Lisa Colbert, for one, is planning to set up a resistance movement, or "secret army" to rescue children.

Secret Army

We'll be sending children "down the line" to Spain.

Following concerns expressed by Syria, the United Nations is expected to take some time off Vatican-bashing, to look into the situation. Said a spokesman, "We have received a proposal from the United States, that we should try air strikes on Belgium - according to Barack Obama, dropping bombs on people is the best way to help them - and we are seriously considering the possibility."

Elio di Rupo

"Live long and prosper (unless you're ill)!" says Prime Minister Elio di Rupo.

Suicide, euthanasia, and abortion have long been important parts of Belgian culture. Explained one doctor: "People wake up one day, and say to themselves My God! I'm a Belgian! For many, this is such shocking news that they feel obliged to end it all on the spot."

abandon hope

A traditional welcoming sign at the Belgian border.

Before the new euthanasia law comes into force, it must receive the royal assent from King Philippe of Belgium, who is a devout Catholic and a regular reader of this blog. We advise him to abdicate to avoid putting his signature to this law, as did his uncle, King Baudouin when abortion was legalised, although this will not save Belgium. And where Belgium leads, can the rest of Europe be far behind? Another famous Belgian is on the case (and we don't mean Hercule Poirot).

Rompuy Pompuy

We're working on a new "euthanasia" directive, to apply to the whole of the EU.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Why Vladimir Putin made me join Femen

Cristina Odone writes:

I loathe Vladimir Putin. Have you noticed how all Russian tyrants have names ending in -in? Lenin, Stalin, Putin, ... oh, and my friend Damian Thompson suggests Borodin. Well, there must be something in it.

Putin and Kirill

Wasn't Cristina Odone hilarious this week?

On the other hand, I admire Peter Tatchell for his uncompromising campaign to allow people to fly stripy flags at the Winter Olympics - I hope you're reading this, Mr MacGregor - and we won't talk about his attempts to reduce the age of consent!

So, having read of the Pussy Riots, and the activities of Femen, I am forced to choose. Do I stand up for orthodox Catholic teaching, and win the support of my old mates from the Catholic Herald? Or do I make myself the darling of the Guardian and the BBC, by joining Femen?


It's time to strip off!

The decision was clear. I could not be seen to be siding with Putin, so I had to side with the Pussy Riots - after all, I am a cat lover - and with Femen. You'll soon see me in Westminster Cathedral, shouting "Stripy flags for all!" And I'll bet that someone will soon come along with a stripy flag and cover me up!

Sally Bercow writes:

Cristina Odone's latest meltdown means that Edward Lucas has to go.

Eugh! Cristina Odone has gone too far. By her appalling writing, she has demeaned her husband's high office at the Economist, and trashed a good man's reputation - although, to be fair, Vladimir Putin doesn't seem to be too worried.


Take our advice, Cristina!

Why can she not act with dignity, as befits her position? You wouldn't catch me behaving like that! It is a scandal, and Edward Lucas should suffer the consequences and resign. If he cannot put his own house in order, how can he be trusted to advise the highest in the land from the exalted position he occupies?

Monday 10 February 2014

QUAERITUR: Should I wake the priest?

Dear Father E, when I make Confession I often find that the priest starts yawning. Sometimes, he even asks me to repeat some of my sins - the enumeration of them, that is - on the grounds that he "dropped off for a moment". I am terrified that one day he will fall into a deep sleep. If this happens, what should I do?

priest yawning

... and I've put more details on my blog, Father.

Father E replies: Sleep is a gift from God, and, given that you sometimes doze off during the priest's homily, it is only natural that he in turn should grab a much-needed forty winks while you are telling him how you spent the week. I have seen your written account of the incident in question, and I am not sure that it was necessary to give the full details of how A insulted you on Twitter so that you screen-capped her words, and then B got involved and wrote a nasty post on his own tedious blog, and then C joined in and started stalking you, and then, ... zzzzz... sorry, where was I?

Pope sleeping

Do you get excommunicated if you nudge a pope?

Now, if your confessor falls asleep, there are several things you might do:

1. Stop talking, and wait patiently until he wakes up again. Of course, this might not be for eight hours or so...
2. Tiptoe out quietly, so as not to wake him. However, experts would say that you had not fully completed your confession.
3. Cough loudly, bang on the confessional, shout "WAKE UP, FATHER!" Probably best, but a little discourteous.

parrot sleeping

The sins of a parrot are not usually very interesting.

Frankly, the best way to avoid such a situation is to invent some interesting sins, as recommended by certain bishops. You could, for example, walk in covered with blood and pretend that you have just murdered your grandmother. Then, having got the priest's attention, you say, "It's all right. Only joking. It was only the deacon." This is probably more interesting than seeking absolution for the sin of wearing liturgically-incorrect socks at the Church Fayre. The priest may even stay awake.

Dull and Boring

Not the best place to make your confession.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Cornwell cut off by a flood

Following a flood of hostile criticism, it has been announced that John Cornwell, whose work is sometimes known as "Hitler's Pap", is now completely cut off from reality.

Hitler's Pope

N.B. The picture shows Nuncio Pacelli in 1927. Hitler was out.

Efforts are being made to bail out Cornwell, but the tide is definitely flowing against him, and it may be months before he can get back on the rails; at present he is completely off-track. The latest deluge to hit Cornwell is attributed by some to a change in the climate of opinion; by others, to a natural downfall.

Pope St Pius X

Pope St Pius X - next for a hatchet job.

Amusingly described, variously, as a "Catholic", "historian" and "theologian", Cornwell has now been declared a complete disaster. His latest work, "The Dark Box" explains how Pope St Pius X encouraged children to go to confession; what a fiend that man was!

Naturally, the government and the environment agency are very concerned about the plight of Cornwell. Part of the problem is the collapse of the anti-Catholic line taken by Richard Dawlish, which has always looked to be on rather shaky foundations, and may not be worth trying to save.

Sontaran and Sarah-Jane

Eric Pickles discusses the plight of Cornwell.

Surprisingly, the general public is not worried about "losing" Cornwell. Said one sockpuppet that we interviewed: "Where would we be without Cornish Nasties and Clottish Dreams? But Cornwell is too remote from reality to be worth worrying about."