The Vicar on the New Archbishop


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.

A half pint of lager shandy? Thank you Ian, I don’t mind if I do. Very nice. Would you mind awfully asking for a packet of those scampi fries? They’re a tasty snack aren’t they? Get two. We’ll share them ’round.

The auditions for the parish party went well. Yes, I must admit it, I’ll be doing my Mr. Bean act once again. It seems to be a favourite doesn’t it?

Well, it look like we’re about to have a new Archbishop of Canterbury. That Welsh fellow is off to Cambridge. I always thought he needed a good barber don’t you? Bit scruffy. He was Welsh, and perhaps what they expect of their Druids–never did understand all that I must admit. What do I think of him? Nice enough chap I suppose. Can’t help feeling sorry for him. I always felt his main problem is that he was forever trying to explain himself. Better not to do that I think. My old schoolmaster–the one who wound up in the soup–used to say, “Don’t explain and don’t complain!”.  There’s something to that.

This new one seems to be champing at the bit rather. I expect he wants to get things done and has lots of bright ideas, and  I wish him well. Everybody says what a difficult job being Archbishop of Canterbury must be, but I’ve never seen it myself. All a chap’s got to do in a situation like that is keep his mouth shut, smile quite a lot, agree with everybody, have a few jokes handy and then not do very much. I’ve always found it’s when you try to start something up or solve a problem that the real difficulties start. No matter what you do someone’s bound to get rather sniffy. Better to let sleeping dogs lie don’t you think?

Take this matter of these fellows who want to marry one another. First I heard of it was when the Dean of Girdle mentioned it at my interview to come here. I can’t say I agree with it, but Lavinia seems keen. Says she and her partner Georgie Samsonite have already had some sort of wedding. So off they go, trying to change the world. It’s bound to end in tears. She likes to bring the subject up quite a bit at the clergy meetings. Best thing to do in a situation like that is to keep smiling and not say much of anything. Someone like Lavinia’s a rather determined sort. Best to sit back and let them get on with it. I mean to say, it’s not really my cup of tea, but I can’t see it does any harm.

That would be my advice to the new Archbishop. It’s served me well all these years. Why I remember when I was at St Dunstan’s and let things chortle along everything was fine. It was when I tried to do anything that it all went pear shaped. It’s when I had a bit of a flutter with some church funds on the stock market that I got my fingers burned. Then there was the time I had the bright idea of bringing in some of that modern music for the young. Next thing I knew they had a rock and roll band in the church and some sort of flashing lights and so forth. It was all a great mistake and lucky for me Daphne came in at the last minute and pulled the plug. All the lights went out and I had to light a few candles and sing “The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended”, apologize and send them all home.

The problem with all these bright young things in the Church of England is that they all want to go around changing everything. Lavinia with her wimmin’s peace group and the Order of Adamites…and that young curate over at St Cuthbert’s chaining himself to the churchyard fence to protest the stockbrokers. All it really does is upset everyone. Poor old Major Wildebeest is worked up about it all the time.

All this keeping up with the times and being relevant. I can’t see it myself. I’ve learned my lesson. Keep things the same.  As the Yanks say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” We were all going along quite happily with things as they had been for as long as I can remember, Hymns Ancient and Modern, Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist at 8, the monthly family service, tea in the Vicarage at 4 and evensong at 6, the garden party and the Christmas bazaar…

Nevermind. Let’s look on the bright side! So here’s to the new Archbishop lads, let’s hope  he’ll simply keep the show on the road and avoid all the silly new fangled stuff. If only we can just keep to the old ways. Changing things about for change’s sake doesn’t seem right somehow. Daphne was quoting one of her favorites just the other day saying “The Church that marries the spirit of the age will soon be a widow.” Something to that I think. Problem is, I’m not sure where to find a church like that. If it isn’t the dear old C of E who is it?

Well, I’d better toddle off home lads. Mefistofele will want letting out and she who must be obeyed will be waiting for me no doubt with some bon mot from Cardinal Newman or some such.


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  • Edwin Barnes

    I think you will find it is model railways which interest the Vicar; “railroading” is a term of foreign origin with a quite different meaning; something to do with pushing your own ideas through with no thought for anyone else – rather like the PM and changing the meaning of marriage.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for the correction. Of course you are correct. I think railroading may be an Americanism, and I can’t imagine where The Vicar picked up such terminology!

  • mike cliffson

    If the Vicar, howsoever putative, managed, like me, to be alive and a kid in the fifties and early sixties in the uk( this sort of thing CAN be managed, my personal belief is that the soul has some sort of loving dialogue with Our father at creation , its conception being our timebinded reflection of this , as twere, these people who moan theydidnt ask to be born, i say what makes you so sure) he would then have had school BBC inc all the nursery rhymes (mother goose to you) and at the requisite children’s times of day and weekend , a limited selection of SOME American songs every week, year in year out , by popular if managed request.
    At the cinema the saturday morning matinees, considered a bit vulgar, as cheap as the cheapest icecream lolly ,had i main feature film, 90% hollowood , shorts and serials and cartoons (ditto) silly games on stage , and singalongs – of the same favourites. (Tv was not ubiquitous till the midsixties, even then , only one hour for kids). School playgrounds naturally also.
    So what ? well , there was Burl Ives, Davy Croquet, ……
    And a super song
    “The railroad runs through the middle of the house
    the midde of the house (x 3)
    since the company brought the land “…../..
    Last words ” I m sining this song in the middle of the house ..TRAIN NOISES DROWN SINGER”
    The vicar would not be alone in having a model railroad, to distinguish himself from older fogies who had model trains a nd railway sets.

    If you prefer the explanations that Fr Longenecker just got it wrong, or prosaically . doesn’t consciously remember talking to a brit a wee bit older that himself on his blighty stint, where his subconscious does drag out subcreative authenticity, well , Sir, what can I say?

    Long live sub-creation, say I!

  • mike cliffson

    a woman singing it on utube

    Mind you , the lager shandy as opposed to a brown and mild make s on realize that perhaps the Viar is a child of the late seventies, who knows, it must have been the vicar factory he went to , I wouldn’t put it past anglican seminaries to go in for lager shandy, but I wouldn’t know.

  • flyingvic

    Vicar factories’ drinking habits? Gin, certainly; red wine for parties; real ale for preference at the pub; lager, with or without lemonade, never. Mind you, I can’t speak for the low church end, which makes them I suppose, unspeakable! I doubt that some of them even drank communion wine . . .

  • mike cliffson

    I am reassured by your words in a disintegrating world

  • Glenn Galenkamp

    @Flyingvic. You forgot sherry after church on Sundays, (and after signing the register at a wedding), scotch at the end of the day (especially so after a PCC meeting).