Thought of the week with the Very Reverend Archbishop Dr Robert Carolgees

As I sit reclining in my solid oak chair, enthused with its leatherback turtle armrests and panda fur cushioning, I can’t help but think of the commercialisation of Easter. Perhaps it’s because it is nearly Easter that I am thinking about Easter, perhaps not. I was discussing the commercialisation of Easter just last week with Jensen Button, the famous Formula One racing car driver, when I bumped into him in Cleft High Street. Gumpert, my sinewy South American live-in help had announced that morning that he was confining himself to his quarters to best combat a nasty injury to his groin he had picked up after a particularly rambunctious evening at the new Otter and Trombone chain pub which opened a fortnight ago. Due to Gumpert’s crippled abdominal area I had been forced to forgo that morning’s Guardian crossword in order to visit Cleft and stock up on the various groceries and goods required to sustain a large parochial house. Given that I rarely venture into the wide world of retail outlets, I did purchase rather more than I had intended too and had bought, quite by impulse, Noel Edmonds’ autobiography, Beards, Jumpers and Anthea Turner On Fire.

So keen was I to get stuck into the tome that I was mindlessly turning the pages while walking and didn’t see the 15 F1 race-winning superstar as he left Snowy’s Tobacconists near the main village car park. Our collision was inevitable and, as we clashed, my newly purchased volume went flying high into the air. Jensen, being bearded himself at the time, was obviously very much in tune with the author of my newly bought volume as he caught it one handed, before it could land on, and no doubt be ruined by, the grimy streets of downtown Cleft.

Obviously one cannot let such an act of kindness pass without comment and the McLaren-backed speedster and I spent a good few hours chatting right there on the High Street about all manner of life’s little nuances. I had no idea, for instance, that Jensen learnt to drive in a Ford P100 pick-up van at the age of three months, nor did I realise that his beloved father, Barry Button, had once lived in a beaver dam in the woods of Wisconsin for a year. Our fascinating and enlightening discourse was rudely interrupted by the muffled sounds of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades coming from my ecclesiastical gown pocket. Jensen was clearly startled by my choice of ringtone and I made a mental note to change my passcode to prevent Gumpert from interfering with my personal equipment.

As if to speak of the devil it was Gumpert himself on the phone, and I had to unfortunately break off my discussion with the gallant Jensen to engage with my live-in help as he demanded extra provisions he had left off his list for me. I had to make my apologies to the Santander advertising hero and reluctantly returned to Tesda to pick up the moistened toilet roll, cigarette papers, muscle emollient, baby oil and something called KY Jelly, all of which Gumpert had rather moodily grunted that he now required during our telephone call.

Once I had climbed the steep hill from the village back to the parochial house I shared with my incapacitated home help, no mean task with three Tesda shopping bags groaning with oil-based provisions, I discovered the front door was wide open and there were muddy paw prints all over the Harrods hessian door mat, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners. On further inspection I could clearly see two dark and very flat objects protruding out from underneath the kitchenette door. I called for Gumpert to rouse himself from his groin-injury induced slumber so that we could investigate the strange objects together, which, I noticed, where now very slowly slapping up and down on the parquet flooring, a gift I should add, from Mrs Beagle, a parishioner of mine.

Mrs Beagle had been so grateful to the support I offered her when her hydrangea died suddenly overnight a few months ago, that she insisted on re-flooring the kitchenette for us, despite my eager protestations. Gumpert had also shown great kindness to Mrs Beagle’s nephew, Matthew, and would often invite the downy-faced student up to his room, sometimes quite late at night to help him overcome his grief. Matthew clearly felt the loss of his mother’s hydrangea quite keenly given the low moans and grunts of what I thought must be pure disconsolation emanating from Gumpert’s quarters.

My lithe South American home help had, by now, moodily stomped down the stairs to investigate the cause of my agitation. His injury had clearly done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for his foul smelling cigarillos, the smoke from which pre-empted his arrival into the hallway. Together we crept towards the kitchen and to our surprise and horror we saw two beavers, tails flapping against the newly acquired flooring, each one nibbling on a separate table leg. The North American mammals appeared to be quite unmoved by our presence and continued to munch their way through the mahogany table, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners. What a shame that Jensen was not with me! Surely his father’s experience would have stouted our hearts and offered some timely and much-required beaver related advice. After all, what is one to do when presented with beavers in one’s kitchen?

Suddenly a beam of ethereal light came shining through the open front doorway and rested upon the Biffordshire Yellow Pages, kept for emergencies only on the telephone table. As I turned to retrieve the book a sudden gust of wind rustled the pages open until they rested right at the very end of the book under ‘Z’. I do believe the Lord spoke to me at that very moment. That first entry under Z depicted a picture of a large baboon with the phrase ‘Visit Cum-on-the-Nook Zoo’ and a telephone number which zoo-bound day trippers could call to find out more details about their planned visit. Thankfully, Zimbo’s Mystical Tent Experience had closed down many years before as surely theirs would have been the first entry on that particular page.

Suddenly my path become clear. Why simply calling Cum-on-the-Nook Zoo and asking them to fetch the beavers would alleviate our wood-chewing mammal infestation once and for all. A few hours’ later two burly zoo keepers had arrived and had retrieved the errant buck-toothed beasts, which we later discovered had escaped from a local brothel. So glad was Gumpert to be free of the animals that he treated both zoo keepers to a late night buttery crumpet feast in his bedroom which both fellows clearly enjoyed given the shrieks of delight coming from Gumpert’s room. Verily the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!


The Very Reverend Archbishop Dr Robert Carolgees will be guest presenting Biffordshire TV’s new game show panel, ‘Where’s my cardigan? Oh yes, there’s my cardigan’ next Sunday. Audience tickets are available on the day. Asthmatics are asked to book in advance.

Yet more musings from the very reverend Archbishop of Toad-in-the Wold…

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!