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!