Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.
Evenin’ all! Sorry not to have been down here at the pub for so long, but She Who Must Be Obeyed insisted on a holiday together. Now she’s a Roman she wants to visit France and Italy all the time, so we spent the two weeks trolling through Normandy. Very enjoyable indeed.
Daphne dragged me off to visit Lisieux where some little gal lived who the Romans think is awfully special. Daff was thrilled, but I couldn’t quite see it myself. They say she’s a great saint, but seems to me she was a rather spoiled child who said a rosary bead every time she climbed the stairs and then became a nun. It’s all the sentimental stuff the Romans are worst at I’m afraid–all simpering sisters, roses and holy cards. Not really my cup of tea at all.
What did I like about it all? Well, to tell the truth, the little restaurants were awfully good and we stopped by that French version of St Michael’s Mount. Can’t help being impressed by that–monastery built on a rock in the middle of the bay. There was a rather odd thing happened at that Lisieux place too. Daff was in the chapel of the convent praying and I was sitting on a bench enjoying the afternoon sun when suddenly the most extraordinary thing… a slight breeze and I could swear I heard someone whispering, “I pray for priests I will pray for you.” It kept up for about a minute or so, then it all died down. I expect it was just the combination of the breeze in the trees and the rather good lunch I’d just had. P’raps I dozed off a bit and dreamed the whole thing. It’s odd how the mind plays tricks on one.
Well lads, it looks like we’re going to get a new Archbishop of Canterbury. Y’know I bumped into the present fellow once at a diocesan do. Seemed pleasant enough. Needs a good barber in my opinion, but he seems to enjoy the ‘beardy weirdie’ reputation. Folks have been saying that he’s been a terrible Archbishop, but I can’t see it myself. Seems to me he’s done just a good a job as anybody else. Everybody tut tutting about it being an impossible job. Doesn’t seem so tricky to me. All it takes is keeping one’s mouth shut and pretty much letting everybody get on with doing as they like. Now and then you might have to remind folks to be a bit more tolerant, but that’s all. Seems a doddle. No problem at all.
What it takes is understanding the dear old C of E. We’re a broad church. There’s room for everyone here. Lavinia was saying the other day that Our Lord wouldn’t have excluded anyone, and didn’t he say to the woman taken in adultery, “neither do I condemn you?”
I did meet that George Carey a couple of times. He was a jolly enough fellow, not all that bright, but you don’t need brains to be a nice chap. It was Mrs Carey who was rather formidable. Eileen she was called. A rather hefty woman as I remember. We were at a garden party at Lambeth Palace. An old college friend of mine was being made bishop and Daphne and I found ourselves in conversation with Mrs Carey. Daphne said she wasn’t in favor of women’s ordination and Eileen got really rather huffy. Said something like, “You’d better go off and join the Romans then. The sooner people like you leave the Church of England the better.”
I was trying to smooth her feathers, but I could see poor old Daff was most annoyed. She sipped her tea and said, “Mrs Carey, you must know all the wives of the bishops. Have you ever met Mrs. Proudie? You remind me so much of her.” Mrs. Carey said she had never met Bishop Proudie and asked what diocese he was. “Barchester” said Daff. Eileen got a sort of befuddled look then changed the subject.
It took a week for poor old Daff to cool off. Never mind. Water under the bridge. We’ll all be looking forward to the next fellow to take the job. Some folks think it could be that African. I like him. That should liven things up in Canterbury. Bongo drums and dancing in the aisles I expect. Sounds like good fun don’t you think?