Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.

Now then lads, I’m terribly sorry that I couldn’t be there for the Sunday School’s Epiphany Carol service. I’m sure Lavinia covered for me well enough. I must say I wasn’t too pleased to find out after the event, that she took it upon herself to introduce those new fangled carol sheets. Christmas is one of the few times of the year when we can settle down to some traditional carols, and I’m a bit peeved that she made you sing “We Three Queens of Orient Are…” At least you knew the tune. That’s something I suppose. What’s that you say? No. Come now. I think that really is taking it too far Ian. You say there was a new tune as well? Written by that Elton John fellow? I say, that’s not quite cricket. Lavinia’s a good girl in her own sort of way, but I must admit she does take her enthusiasms a bit far at times. Never mind. I’m sure a good time was had by all, and once you had a few mince pies washed down by a glass of sherry all was forgiven and forgotten.

Thing is, Daphne and I went up to London for the weekend. I had some old college friends to see up at my club. We have an annual get together you know. Then Daphne hauled me off to Westminster Cathedral see those Flying Bishop fellows jump across to Rome. I suppose that is why they call them ‘flying bishops’ because they flew the coop. Har Har. Not being unnkind, but we’re better off without them I reckon. Nevertheless, it was all rather splendid in a Roman sort of way. Lots of processing about and incense and all that. Daphne gave me the grand tour of the place beforehand. I must say, it’s a corker of a church. All Byzantine in style. Marble and mosaics everywhere. What I noticed is the number of people actually kneeling down to say their prayers. Not the sort of public display of religious enthusiasm one is used to in an Anglican cathedral, and I have to admit it was rather pleasant. Whenever one pops into our cathedral it’s filled with tourists milling about, and one can hardly find a quiet place to sit down and gather one’s thoughts. Old Bishop Bracket once said the place was like a barnyard with lots of noisy geese and goats. Didn’t endear him to the Director of the Visitor’s Center, but there we are.

What was my meeting with the other clergy about? Oh, nothing of importance really. Just a few of us discussing what sort of things are going on in our parishes. Rather sad how disenchanted so many of them are. I was shocked to find that Reginald Smithson has gone rather high church and calls himself Fr. Reginald now. He was talking rather excitedly about this ordinariate thingy and is very seriously thinking of going over to Rome with a few of his flock. What with him and Fr Giles over at St Barnabas planning to go it’s starting to hit home. I don’t think it will come to much in the end. There have always been a few high church types who get Roman fever.

Mind you. They come and they go. My friends tell me that a good number of Anglican priests pop across to the Roman Church, and then before too long they come slinking back, tail between their legs asking the bishop if he hasn’t got a little parish they could have after all. Then what no one seems to mention is how many of the Romans come our way. I’m told that the just as many swim the Tiber the other way you know. Am I tempted to go over to Rome! Good heavens no! I can’t be doing with all that worship of Mary and so forth. I realize she was probably a very nice woman and a good girl and very well brought up, but Queen of Heaven and so forth? I think not! As for the Pope, He’s a nice enough nice enough fellow. I don’t like his German accent much–reminds me of the Nazis, but at the end of the day he’s an ordinary chap just like you and me. “Gets his trousers on one leg at a time just like the rest of us.” He doesn’t wear trousers you say? Wears dresses instead? Har Har. That is a good one!

But you know what I mean. I can’t be kissing the pope’s toe. No indeed. The Church of England is the Catholic Church in this land. It’s the Catholic Church reformed that’s all. Henry VIII cleaned up all those corrupt monasteries and so forth and brought things up to date. That’s the genius of the Church of England you know–we’re up to date. Always have been. I know I seem rather a stick in the mud at times. I like the good old traditions like the summer fete and change ringing and carol singing, but I’m glad we have people like Lavinia because they help to keep us on our toes and make sure we are still up to date. Yes lads, we don’t follow all those medieval superstitions like inquisitions and witch hunts and so forth. We don’t go about kissing dubious relics…what’s that you say? You once saw Canon Huffington Post kissing his wife, and she’s a dubious relic. Har Har. Good one! Excellent!

Listen lads, like those Bishops I must fly. The dubious relic is waiting at home with a hot chocolate and something new discovery from one of these tiresome books of Catholic apologetics she keeps reading. What ho! For better or for worse and all that! Over and out!