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.

Funny you should mention that vicar who can’t change a light bulb. Just this morning Daphne was climbing up a ladder in the Vicarage kitchen to change a bulb while I was enjoying a second cup of tea, and she slipped and came crashing down and nearly knocked me off my chair. Mefistofele let out a yelp and scampered, and my cup of tea went flying.

Luckily, as you all know, Daphne is pretty well padded and she didn’t do much more than bounce a little. Nevertheless she wasn’t too happy, and yours truly ended up in the doghouse for not being more of a help. When things get like that in the Vicarage I think it’s always wise to retire to my study and work on my sermon a bit if you catch my meaning.

Then later this afternoon Lavinia dropped by the vicarage. She’s organized a petition for the Yanks who are doing some sort of sit in protest in New York City. Apparently she wants to get the whole thing off the ground here in the City. Says the bankers are all evil and greedy. I didn’t like to point out that her own salary comes from the church commissioners being pretty clever operators on the stock market. Daphne always ducks for cover when Lavinia knocks on the door. Not a pretty scene when those two get together I can tell you!  told Lav that signing petitions for unhappy Americans wasn’t really my thing, but I wished her all the best and sent her off with a jar of Daphne’s blackberry jam.

Do you know lads, while she was there Lavinia asked me to join a union for clergy? Why I never! She mentioned this fellow who can’t even change a light bulb for fear of falling foul of the planning officer, and that he ought to join the union, and Lavinia said there were many more injustices for the clergy, and that the Bishop was planning cutbacks and redundancies and how did I know if I wasn’t one of the ones for the chop? I mean to say, it is all rather disturbing isn’t it? The troublesome thing is that Lavinia had a knowing look in her eye. She gave me a little wink and said, “It’s men just your age Humph who are ripe for early retirement.”

I must say, it put the wind up me. It’s true enough the bishop wouldn’t grant me the freehold of the parish. I’m only priest in charge and I suppose he can let me go if he wants. The bishop wouldn’t turf me out now would he? Mustn’t think about it. I’ve done nothing wrong, and I’m feeling rather annoyed at Lavinia for planting the seed of doubt in my mind. Still–all this talk of consolidating parishes and so forth? It’s a bit worrying I must say.

So I discussed it with Daphne later over a cup of tea and a slice of Marjorie Huffington-Post’s Victoria Sponge. Daphne gave me that gimlet stare she has over her cup of Earl Grey and said, “What do you expect Humph. You’re a Protestant minister, and they’ve always been able to be hired and fired.”

I think she’s being a bit harsh to tell you the truth. What’s that? Oh yes, she went on at some length about her church. I mustn’t bore you with it lads, just a lot of palaver about how the Catholic bishop would never sack anyone. She said Catholic priests either end up in a nursing home or in jail, but they’re never fired. She told me about Fr. Giles heading off to the ordinariate thingy that the Pope has set up and says he’s about as happy as she’s ever seen a priest.

Best to put it all out of one’s mind. I must say between Lavinia and Daphne I have got my hands full. All the more refreshing to come down here of an evening and have a half pint of shandy, a packet of crisps and a game of darts.