Yet another thought of the week with the very Rev Archbishop of Toad-in-the-Wold, Dr Robert Carolgees

Thought of the week

With the extremely and hugely reverend Archbishop of Toad-in-the-Wold, Dr Robert Carolgees…

“As I sit here in my pressed leather high-backed chair looking over the beautiful valley of Toad-in-the-Wold, my thoughts turn to condoms and the church’s stance on the use of these and other prophylactics and birth control measures.  It is, perhaps, to non-ecclesiastical eyes, a strange take on an item that has for many hundreds of years been used to prevent ladies, many of them scarlet and wanton, from falling with child. While the church decrees that the proper use of condoms is both unclean and ungodly, there is little in scripture prescribing their use as a humorous head adornment, to be blown to a larger proportion through the nostrils of the wearer. My last parish, which covered the small Gloucestershire town of Hickey-on-the-Neck, relied heavily on the tourism trade brought to it by its annual condom-on-head-blowing up festival, which ran for many years in the early 1980S.

As I mused, my train of thought was rudely interrupted by a loud shriek emanating from the kitchen of my sprawling diocesan house, so kindly and thoughtfully provided to me by my parishioners. I could only think the shriek was produced by my live-in help Gumpert, who, only minutes before, had been preparing a high tea of crumpets with thick homemade raspberry jam. His anguished cries led me to believe that perhaps a hot crumpet had slipped from his sausage-fingered grasp and had landed jam side down on the parquet flooring, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners.

Rising wearily I strode purposefully into the kitchenette to be met by a site of unadulterated panic and hullabaloo. I noticed immediately that there was sticky raspberry jam all over the granite work surfaces, but even more pressing was the sight of Gumpert, angrily waving his hands in the air, crumpet still in his ever so firm grasp, as he mounted a doomed bid to knock a large and rather disgruntled wasp from its flight path.  Gumpert continued to moan and flail until his discretion overcame his valour and he retreated with a whimper into the drawing room.

The wasp’s intent towards Gumpert was clearly larcenous but for now it appeared content to gorge itself on the sticky mess, my athletic live-in help had, with some effort, produced all over the kitchen work surfaces. Its little antennae bobbed back and forth as it savoured Gumpert’s sticky mess. Faced with such an impressive adversary, I too retreated to the drawing room to discuss tactics with Gumpert, who by now was sulkily rolling one of his foul-smelling Moroccan cigarillos, his tea-time treat long since discarded on a bone china plate, one of a large set kindly provided to me by my parishioners. I looked around the drawing room and decided a rolled up copy of yesterday’s Guardian would provide me with a distinct advantage in my impending battle with the jam intoxicated invertebrate, which had done so much to ruin my afternoon.

Just as I was reaching for the newspaper, however, a sudden ray of ethereal light bathed the small kitchen window which I could just see from my position behind the drawing room chaise longue. I do believe the Lord spoke to me at that very moment.

My path became clear. I rose with renewed vigour and entered the fray with the small kitchenette window my goal. Not wishing to alert the jam slurping wasp to my intentions, I stole across the parquet flooring before cranking open the small window. It only took a few seconds for the wasp to finish his feast and fly harmlessly out into the bright spring sunshine through the half opened window. My newspaper armed battle with the wasp would have taken me many minutes but the issue had, quickly and without fuss, been resolved in a matter of moments.

Verily the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!

Dr Robert Carolgees will be signing copies of his autobiography For Christ’s Sake at Smeggs the Stationers, Blow-in-the-Hole, this Thursday. He looks forward to meeting you there.

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