Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is former 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 was, until retirement, an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers. He is now honorary assistant priest in the parish of St Oswald’s, Dagwood Bumstead in the Gloucester Diocese.

I am sorry I don’t get down here more often lads. No one enjoys a half pint of lager shandy and a packet of cheese and onion more than I do, but you know Mrs Vicar has been rather under the weather these last few months and has needed some looking after.

Nothing serious. Just rather stiff in the knee joints and muggins here has to do most of the heavy lifting. Mrs O’Donnell comes in two days a week, but dear old Daphne’s not up to much more than sitting in her chair and issuing orders. I don’t mind that much really. Its a bit like being back at school, with Matron barking out the drill.

Next thing you know it’ll be school dinner– liver and onions with some cabbage that has been on the boil since Adam and Eve.

Why yes, Trevor we did happen to have a little holiday back to our old parish. I tootled down to the Goose and Garter one evening and all the lads were there. Its been three years now, but it seems some of them hadn’t heard that I’d retired. Well, knock me down with a feather! I suppose that only goes to show what they thought of me.

On the other hand, maybe they just thought I was busy all that time about the Lord’s work, visiting old ladies and taking funerals and such and was pooped and didn’t have time for the odd pint of poison. One does wonder why they didn’t miss me at Matins though.

As it turns out Lavinia, the lady vicar from the next door parish has been appointed to St Hilda’s and they told me that she had married her friend Georgie Samsonite. Apparently there was quite a hullabaloo because they wanted to get married in church and the Archdeacon nixed it. I don’t see why. I always thought Georgie was a perfectly nice chap. Then they told me that this fellow Georgie was a gal the whole time. Well, it shows how behind the times I am!

All the time they’d been living in the curate’s house over at St Etheldreda’s they were a couple of whadyacallem, Thespians. I never would have guessed, although I suppose the largish bloomers on the washing line should have been a giveaway. They were rather too ample for Lavinia. You can tell an awful lot about the vicarage from the clothesline, Daphne always used to say.

Well, anyway, Lavinia and Georgie seem to have settled down quite happily in our old Vicarage in Little Snoring. The fellas at the Goose and Garter says no one goes to church anymore except at Christmas. ‘Spect that’s why they didn’t miss me. They say Lavinia does nothing but talk about fender equality, whatever that is–something to do with insurance payouts after a car mishap I suppose, but it could be most anything. I’m getting awfully hard of hearing and its not that you can’t hear. Its that you can’t understand properly.

What’s that you say? The “ordinariate”? Oh thats the sort of thingy that the old Pope set up so some high church chaps could become Catholics without really becoming Catholic if you see what I mean. To be perfectly honest, I think its a rum do. I mean to say, if they want to become Romans let them become Romans, but lets not pretend shall we? I can’t see the point of it myself. If you want to do all that Roman sort of stuff its always been perfectly possible to do so in the Church of England. No need to go off and join the ordinary whatchamacallit.

As long as I can remember there have always been chaps who wanted to light lots of candles and wear lacy vestments and carry a statue of Mary about. Its never been my cup of tea, but I can’t see there’s any harm in it. What I can’t understand is why that won’t do? After all, we Church of England chaps are Catholic. We’re just not Roman Catholic. I’ve always thought the Romans were a bit standoffish and couldn’t understand it myself. They behave as if there’s some sort of grudge after all these years.

Do you know our old housekeeper Mrs Doyle, who was normally quite the right sort of Irishwoman–very meek and helpful–she once had a drop too many of the Irish whisky in her tea and it loosened her tongue. My word, the things she said! She chortled on about King Henry VIII stealing all the monasteries and taking all the churches for himself. Well I never! Everybody knows the church in the Dark Ages was full of lazy fat monks and corrupt popes. All Good old King Henry did was to sort things out and get the place ship shape and Bristol fashion. According to Mrs Doyle you would have thought he was some sort of tyrant!

Well I mustn’t go on. It’s lovely to see you chaps! Before I go p’raps I might have that whisky you offered Dennis? Thanks very much. Much obliged. Chin chin!

The Vicar of Great Snoring is a short, entertaining e-book about how Humphrey first became the vicar of Little Snoring.  You can buy it for just $2.99 here.