As I sit reclining in badger fur backed solid oak chair so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, my mind cannot help but to wrestle my be-trunked consciousness over the canvas pass the referee and onto the ropes of one of the most contentious issues ever to loom large over the peaceful villages and cul-de-sacs of Biffordshire. Not, as more local readers might expect the hullabaloo which had engorged at the Harvest Festival evensong last Sunday when Mrs Arbuthnot’s contribution to the altar display of a small tin of marrowfat peas was deemed below par by Mr Handcuff the organist. Mr Handcuff, I should explain, is a proud grower of both marrows and peas and he seemed to take Mrs Arbuthnot’s contribution as a personal slight as to the greenness of his fingers. Willy Arbuthnot, Mrs Arbuthnot’s asthmatic husband, had taken great delight in ribbing Mr Handcuff, between wheezes, for his distinct lack of plump vegetables at last year’s Harvest Festival following a season where my organist’s charges had been attacked and eaten by a rare strain of Tsetse fly, which had escaped from the nearby Whoft Tropical Diseases lab.
I was certain that Mrs Arbuthnot had not meant to flagrantly remind Mr Handcuff of that summer’s vegetable failings by placing the tin of marrowfat peas so prominently at the front of the altar, but it did make for a rather frosty rendition of Plough The Fields and Scatter later on during Harvest evensong.
No, my thoughts were rather less on vegetable-based ecclesiastical matters and more on the dreadful shadow which has been hanging over our once great nation for these past three years; Brexit. I was granted an audience with Boris Johnson once, just after he ascended to be Mayor of London as he stopped off in Cum-on-the-Wold for a book signing. He wasn’t a book he had wrote you understand but rather the day centred on him signing other people’s books. Something, he seemed to think, which would ingratiate himself to his growing army of rural fans. His gait and general demeanour did appear to me as if someone had plucked the largest and ripest damson plum from the garden and had fashioned some hair from a shredded wheat biscuit before putting it on a stage and calling it Mayor.
Not that Mr Corbyn was any more of a statesman. He had visited Whoft Working Men’s Club many years before when I had been a lowly parish priest. My work in helping fallen women from the county back on their feet had not gone unnoticed in the corridors of power it seemed, and following his visit he asked to see the shed I had converted into a dormitory to house these poor harridans. He was impressed with the stacking system I had devised allowing me to comfortably accommodate up to 80 fallen women at any one time. However, I noticed with abject horror that throughout his visit he had been wearing carpet slippers and in breaks during our conversation had been petting a Pipistrelle bat which appeared to have made a nest for itself in his jacket top pocket.
Of course, for many of the young whelps of the village, it has also been back to school time. And as I sat reclining, I noticed poor Mrs Buktu from the recently constructed Danny Dyer Housing estate trying to get her son Tim off to his first day at big school. I had prayed for the poor afflicted soul. Having been born with smooth emerald-green skin and being quite limbless would be a challenge for even the doughtiest characters among us. I know the impoverished Mrs Buktu had had a terrible time trying to find a suitable school uniform for the lad and had improvised by sewing his school badge onto an old hessian potato sack. At least the young Tim Buktu was a now a little more mobile thanks to the skateboard his loving mother had managed to strap to his stump. I did fear for the boy, knowing full well how cruel children can be when presented with someone whose characteristics might only, in a very small way, differ to their own.
My train of thought was interrupted somewhat by Gumpert, my lithe South American home help who was seeing his house guest of the past two nights to the front door. I have to say I had been very proud of how my taut domestic had welcomed the new Gary Lineker Comprehensive School Headteacher, Mr Groan, into the parish. Mr Groan had moved down from the Scottish Island of Buttock to start a new life in Biffordshire and had struck up an instant, if a little unlikely, friendship with my muscular aide. Gumpert had certainly thrown himself eagerly into helping Mr Groan devise some lesson plans for the forthcoming Michaelmas term, judging by the whoops of near ecstasy and the late-night thrashing about emanating from Gumpert’s quarters.
Gumpert had by now completely derailed my train of thought by moodily stomping into my nook, as he did so dripping water all over the Persian deep shag rug so kindly provided to me by my parishioners. Following him downstairs, I could see that he had been attempting to hammer a picture hook into the hall wall. Clearly, he had been attempting to hang a portrait of his country’s much revered military president, Dr Oetker. I had thought the good doctor had been one of the reasons why Gumpert fled to Biffordshire in the first place, but with water pouring out of the pipe which Gumpert had struck I didn’t think it was perhaps the time nor the place to discuss the recent political turmoil so afflicting his native lands. Suddenly, a beam of ethereal light shone through the kitchen window and iridised what appeared to be a brass tap under the sink. The stop cock! Why, of course! By turning the stop cock a few centimetres to the left I could temporarily close off the water supply to the parochial house saving the ornaments and the Egyptian rat hair hall rug, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, from a sodden downpour. Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
Archbishop Robert Carolgees will be appearing on Good God! the biblically-based Channel Five game show on Monday afternoon at 3pm. Regrettably, asthmatics will not be permitted into the studio.
Disclaimer – Here at MonkeyBroth towers, we take our editorial responsibility very seriously and would never stoop towards product placement. The following content is purely a happening that happened; a thing that went on, a shiny sixpence of experience in the chimney-sweep’s ear of life. So with that out of the way….
The other day, while perambulating the High Street of Upper Crunge I started feeling rather peckish, as one does after a heady morning buying reasonably priced, unusual family gifts and gilt cards at Rosemary and Frank’s Unusual Family Gifts and Gilt Card shop, just off of the Glambie Parade next to Next.
I high-tailed it to Mufkins Bakery – I think you’ll agree, the only place for lunchtime comestibles with options for wheat and gluten-free rolls and a variety of delicious fillings made fresh to order. If memory serves, it’s situated at 23 High Street, Upper Crunge, BF74 6NG – Tel 09875 4554 45631. But I digress. I quickly received my order of a Buffalo Mozzarella with Spanish Chorizo from the friendly, efficient staff and tucked into my tasty sandwich.
Alas, after I had devoured half of my enormous but surprisingly reasonably priced treat, I remembered that I had to make an important phone call to Simon Thrombosis; MonkeyBroth’s own resident lifestyle guru, agony uncle and part-time conceptual artist. Not wanting my moreish morsels to go stale during what would be a long conversation on my iRola GTZ-58000 smart phone, (kindly loaned to me by Upper Crunge Carmobiles4you on a very competitive tariff), I decided to pay a visit to one of my very favourite people – Graham Shinysides of Upper Crunge Zip Bags – your only choice for re-sealable food storage.
Located at 42 Drank Lane, just off the High Street, Graham has made the storage of foodstuffs and other spoilable material his life’s work for just over 13 months. Graham prides himself in his ability to find the right plastic sealable bag for you, big or small, no matter the weather.
While chatting amiably to him, he reminded me that he also does emergency call-outs – perfect for that Summer fete cake stall that is suddenly infested by a swarm of wasps. He also pointed out his new Suck-U-Matic vacuum packing machine that is a new service for this year and is aimed at the budget-minded storage shopper. I also recall that he will be introducing a special discount for all MonkeyBroth readers who state the code ADVERTBROTH at point of sale, which is nice.
After but a few short minutes, my sandwich was safely nestled in a beautiful clear zip bag that really could have passed as made-to-measure. “What great service from Upper Crunge Zip Bags of 42 Drank Lane!” I quipped as I bade Graham a reluctant farewell.
I called Simon on time (thanks to such swift service) and, with the excellent call quality of my iRola, had soon bashed out the finer points of his next article.
Afterwards, while I finished my succulent lunch on the banks of the river Crunge, I reflected on the quality of the tradesmen that service the people of this fine market town. Surely, they are a jewel in the crown of Biffordshire commerce, that, because of the diligence and finely-honed prices that they provide, will remain an asset to the local populous of our Shire.
MonkeyBroth would like to thank ‘A-to-B-iffordshire Taxis’ for transport to and from Crunge.
Next Week – MonkeyBroth visits Crunge Retail Village – opening soon on the outskirts of Crunge!
Thought of the week
With the extremely and hugely reverend Archbishop of Toad-in-the-Wold, Dr Robert Carolgees…
“As I sit here reclining on my solid oak desk in my conservatory-cum-nook on the top floor of my parochial house, so kindly provided for me by my parishioners, I cannot help but think of the church’s stance on civil marriage ceremonies.
Are we really to believe that venues such as Alton Towers, Legoland and even, dare I say it, Wembley Stadium, are fit and proper arenas for the sacred bonding of two people to take place? Why just the other day I read that Toad-in-the-Wold’s leading tourism attractions, Frank’s Wasp Museum and the Cum-Wisely Biscuit Discount Store, had applied for a licence to hold civil marriages. While I appreciate that the church must move forward or face a nasty withering on the vine of popular culture, I still choke on my crumpets every time some fly-by-night operation decides that it has the necessary gravitas and solemnness to hold what is essentially a declaration of love between two people of different sex. The different sex passage of this last piece of rather nicely constructed prose is key of course.
Frank’s Wasp Museum is a case in point – one can only think that beekeepers who have met and fallen in love, perhaps while bottling a jar of their gloopy, sinewy honey, could even possibly contemplate engaging in wedlock at a building which so glorifies the doubtful virtues of wasps and other flying and stinging invertebrates.
My live-in help Gumpert is a fine example of this, of course. He himself married in haste to a young girl from his village many moons ago now. Just a few short months after their civil ceremony marriage at the San Atorium Moped Factory, Conchita broke his heart and after one row about donkeys too many, Gumpert packed up his meagre belongings and headed off for new adventures. He washed up in Biffordshire and eventually found his way to Toad-in-the-Wold, where he originally earned his keep by polishing the pigs on Mr Crumble’s 70-hectare spread.
As I mused, my thoughts were rudely interrupted by the sound of Gumpert stomping about on the Persian rug outside my conservatory-cum-nook. The rug, a gift from my most generous parishioners, has become worn and tattered by the sheer number of pedestrians which traverse it, often late at night, as they pop downstairs from Gumpert’s room to the kitchen in order to fetch obviously much needed refreshments of diet cola and thick white toast.
Gumpert’s stompings were so heavy and laden with melancholy that I feared he may trip on the rug and perhaps fall down the stairs, breaking the bannisters as he went. My blood froze as I imagined his youthful and slender neck snapped into a 90 degree angle by the portmanteau we keep at the foot of the stairs.
By now Gumpert was sulkily rolling one of his foul smelling Moroccan cigarillos in the drawing room, his low moans and tutting the only clue to his agitated state of mind. So befuddled was he by whatever it was that ailed him, he stoutly refused to enlighten me as to the cause of his clear distress. It was clear that I was not to get an answer from the lithe South American and decided instead to let him stew in his disgruntlement while I went to catch up with the particularly tricky seven across in that morning’s Guardian.
As I moved through the drawing room my eyes were drawn to the small patioed area the other side of the kitchen. Gumpert’s increasingly restless noises were at once drowned out by a great billowing and flapping about as I opened the kitchen door to investigate further.
Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing on the scene of utter chaos which confronted me. Sheets, pillow cases, socks, my ecclesiastical gowns and any number of Gumpert’s Y-Fronts were blowing to and fro across the garden, while my favourite vest, I noticed, had become snagged on the hedge bordering the patioed area. I feared if Gumpert’s Y-Fronts were to make good their wind-assisted escape, Mrs Algebra and her severe angina next door would simply pass away at the very site of them.
But what was to be done about the scene of mass clothing rebellion being played out in front of me on what was a particularly unseasonal windy afternoon?
As I walked back through the kitchen to rouse Gumpert from his internal ramblings, a sudden beam of ethereal light bathed one of the solid oak unit drawers.
I do believe the Lord spoke to me at that very moment. I moved with haste towards the drawer and tugged hard at the handle. Inside was a veritable cornucopia of various clothes pegs, some wooden, some plastic. I also noticed a long forgotten, and by the look of it well-thumbed copy of Hymn and Hers magazine from several years ago.
My path became clear. Why, surely through the use of said clothes pegs I could simply, and without fuss, gather the errant bed linen and under garments and aid their drying by cleverly securing them to the washing line.
What would have taken me many hours, and no doubt many apologies to Mrs Algebra and her immediate family, was achieved in a matter of moments. Gumpert’s Y-Fronts were secure!”
Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
More utter ecclesiastical nonsense from everyone’s favourite rural archbishop next time folks!
Yet another thought of the week with the very Rev Archbishop of Toad-in-the-Wold, Dr Robert CarolgeesPosted: 05/04/2012
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.