Sunday, 19 January 2014

Parish News from St Botolph-the-Less

This is from "The Pilot" magazine of 1994. Rather like "Helier Clement" in the JEP, a fictitious vicar from a fictitious Parish appeared in its pages wearing a "persona" which was not quite like the real person (I'm not telling who it was, but the fixation on cricket should give a clue!). But this gave "Francis Ecobichon" the chance to have much fun at the clergy's expense, and also cast a wry eye over political matters and Chief Officer's salaries, without incurring the wrath of the Dean or Bishop on speaking out, as it was certainly not from any of the official Rectors!
St Botolph-the-Less
From Francis Ecobichon
My dear friends,
It was good to see and hear our beloved Bishop Colin again. I thought he was looking quite sprightly: it must be all those Winchester Cathedral Trusses the senior clergy are now wearing. I understand from a doctor friend that they can now fit completely new artificial knee-caps, and that surgeons have developed a quick drying medical cement which gives you some ten minutes to get all the scaffolding into position.
What a wonderful age we are privileged to live in. Alas, the cure for arthritic joints does not seem to have appeared yet, and I fear my days of striding over the greensward in pursuit of balls are now a thing of the past. But I did see some of the match when the Clergy and friends played the Medics recently. Sonic of the medics' team certainly looked extremely young to be qualified in medical matters; one very promising bowler who removed Advocate Will Bailhache with a ball of impeccable length looked no more than twelve.
Clearly doctors, teachers and police are getting younger. I was sad to see the Rector of Trinity moving with less agility than of yore, but delighted that my old Methodist friend Bob Delay scored a solid looking twenty-odd in his final game. I understand that he has donated his cricket boots for either (a) an unusual anti-mole device, or (b) to be part of the furniture of the newly restored Hamptonne - perhaps peeping coyly from under the nuptial bed? The clergy captain, the Growth of Grouville in Master Beal's happy phrase, got over 35, I believe, and took a wicket to everyone's immense surprise as he had previously been hit for six! The fixture will I hope be repeated, as it allowed my dear wife to get some free advice about surgical corsets. (I looked in vain for the Rector of St Clement only to be informed that he had left on the mailboat the day previously. I do hope that he has not blotted his copybook in his parish and has been put onto the aforementioned boat as a warning to other Rectors.)
In a recent JEP, I again noticed that a dozen or so weddings were apparently without "benefit of clergy." It does seem to one brought up with old traditions of courtesy that it is disrespectful to our sacred calling not  to acknowledge the priest who performed and made possible the ceremony. Why does the esteemed d paper behave so? Perhaps our Dean Substitute could fire a warning cannon shot across the newspaper's bows or, better still, across the Deputy Editor's desk.
Speaking about that bastion of accuracy and felicitous phrasing reminds me to gently chide my old relative, Helier Clement. I notice that .he was sounding off recently (perhaps after a .too hastily consumed Jersey Bean Crock supper?) that he had little time for either religion or art. I fear his dismissal from the church Sunday School many years ago for attempting to ping one Delia Fordyce's underwear elastic still rankles with him, He was in fact, caught in flagrante delecto -- and muttering uncouth 'swear words in Jersey French did not endear him to: Miss Sidebotham either.
I must, however, .give praise where praise is due and join him in expressing bewilderment about much of what is called "modern art." I had attended a sumptuous concert at the Arts Centre with Gladys. (half-an-hour late starting because of the ticket queue and only one lady on duty was surely extremely short-sighted) and in pausing to reflect on the total lack of movement in the line of distinguished music lovers, my eye was taken by a series of strange designs. They appeared to have been done by a moderately gifted child of under ten, using mainly black and, white. Certainly 'we shall not be purchasing one for our Vicarage. What the poor fellow who made those daubs was trying to say utterly escapes me - I have a feeling he was not too sure neither. Or else he had a very severe speech impediment. Gladys thinks that the artist is a frustrated cricketer who fields at backward point. She may well be correct.
Walking around Fort Regent the other day (waiting to collect some grandchildren from .the pool) I. mused over the latest States folly of the projected nine million pound hole under Fort Regent to take effluence and sea water. Why, I mused, do they not excavate on that utterly unused and unkempt piece of land by the Bay View Hotel? It appears to be land, and not rock. It is much nearer Bellozanne treatment works, and it could then be landscaped on top and look attractive. (The landscaping around Queen's Valley reservoir should surely receive some award as it is most pleasing!) I really cannot believe that drilling through and detonating Jersey granite at the Fort will not result in severe structural damage, and cause severe migraine for the many staff who work there. I must speak to our Deputy about this scandal.
Talking of scandals, I was told the other day that our recently appointed Sports and Leisure expert was departing soon, and that the salary for this not exactly arduous post was some fifty-five thousand pounds a year. Is this really true? £55,000? For doing what? A job which anyone with a modicum of intelligence could do. And is it true that our Police can retire at 50 after 25 years service? And retire on an index-linked pension? As I lifted some of my own Jersey Royals the other day, I mused on the news that the head of Produce Control in the Island earns a reputed £60,000 plus. Earns? I doubt if someone in charge of the whole of Middlesex would earn that salary for such work. Someone somewhere is certainly seeing that the public sector workers will have a long retirement, with no financial worries, except perhaps "should I invest £50,000 in that latest British Telecoms share offer?"
My musings were sadly interrupted by the mail delivery -- it contained a letter from our beloved Church Commissioners to say that my salary had dropped by £40 a month-as we had had more funerals last year at St Botolph's (with an ageing congregation this does happen). I had an inner struggle with the Tenth Commandment that. Sunday!
May I in closing wish you a happy holiday, if you are going away; remind the Editor to check our copy carefully as I wrote in last month's article mentioning Lady Oppenheimer's "lovely prose" and not "her lovely praise," and to say that I am still trying to work out what the Letter to the Editor signed by one "Mustaffa Wurd" was about. Clearly the gentleman is one of those immigrant workers from the Far East who have difficulty with the, English language. I commend. him to the Autumn Evening Class at Highlands College entitled "Learning to speak and write the Queen's English." If he cannot pay the fee, I have a Discretionary Fund that will gladly help him out.
Until then, I hope he will both drive and write Caerphilly.
Your sincere friend and Vicar,
Francois Ecobichon

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