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.

I must say lads, it’s been some time since I’ve been able to tootle on down here to the Goose and Garter to join you. Been rather busy don’t you know, what with Christmas and the New Year and all that! Yes, don’t mind if I do Nigel. You know my particular poison–a half pint of lager shandy and a packet of peanuts if you please!

I thought on the whole the Christmas thingy went quite well don’t you? The villagers enjoy the carol service, and it was good of Daphne to bring along a few of the Romans from her church. She always grumbles that they don’t know how to sing, but they seemed to do pretty well. She’s got a new priest there now. Used to be one of ours. Fr. Rodney Stornaway. Reminds me of a joke they told in school…never mind.

He’s a married fellow too. The Pope is bending the rules for chaps like him. Well, I thought when Fr. Stornaway and his missus came around for a meal it would be rather awkward, but not at all. We were chatting away about the Church of England just like he was still one of us. Seems with all the Anglicans going over, that the Roman Catholic Church is becoming rather more congenial. Fact is, Fr. Stornaway was rather critical of the Romans. He says his bishops aren’t much better than the Anglican ones–calls them “stuffed clerical shirts” and thinks it’s a case of “the bland leading the bland.” Funny chap. I rather like him, and Mrs. Stornaway’s a real corker. Says there’s no problem with the other Catholic priests about the marriage thing. They take one look at her and thank God they’re celibate. We laughed.

Ahh, thank you very much Nigel. Hits the spot doesn’t it? Peanuts anyone? What’s that you say? The canon up North who’s got married for the third time? I don’t understand it I really don’t. Not too long ago he would have been out on his ear, but it seems his bishop doesn’t mind too much. Full of words about being “wounded and abandoned” and “the loneliness of loss”. It doesn’t seem to me like the fellow’s been lonely. Too much loving companionship if you catch my drift.

I admit that sort of thing comes as rather a blow. You know me lads, I’m not particularly traditionalist. Just middle of the road. All I want to do is be a good Christian in the dear old C of E. But I do think marriage is marriage. When a bishop makes excuses for a fellow to be married three times and lets him stay in his job how am I supposed to give instruction to some young couple who are tripping along to be married in the parish church? Honestly, they make my job harder every day.

I mean to say, I’m not one to judge anyone, but there have to be some sort of standards don’t there? Is anyone supposed to be allowed to marry whoever they like? I don’t know. I find it all rather confusing. Then do you know what else has happened over Christmas? Lavinia informed the clergy fraternal that she has gone and “married” her room mate Georgie Samsonite! Well, I never! I was shocked I can tell you. I didn’t suspect that they were any more than old college chums, and now it turns out that they are actually whatchacallit–Thespians.

And to think this is happening in the parish next door and nobody is planning to do anything about it at all? Why over Christmas we had a dinner party at the Archdeacon’s for the clergy and their wives and Mrs Huffington Post was telling Daphne that Lavinia was offended that Georgie hadn’t been invited. Daphne gave one of her withering looks and said, “This is a dinner party for clergy and their wives. I think Georgie is Lav’s husband isn’t she?”

Another round? Don’t mind if I do. Say, Nigel, why not make mine that whiskey you mentioned a moment ago? There’s a good lad. Thanks awfully.

I suppose you’re right Ian. It’s all going to pot, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Everything I thought was part of the C of E and following the Lord Jesus seems to be thrown out the window. Fr. Rodney says I ought to join this Ordinariate thingy the Pope has set up. Who ever would have guessed it? Seems you can be an Anglican and a Catholic at the same time. Can’t imagine what Canon Farnsworth back at theological college would have made of it. Awfully confusing. But I suppose they’re not going to have any of this business of two women marrying each other.

Very strange. Ah well, here’s to the new year lads! Chin chin!