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.

Sorry not to be my usual chipper self lads, but to tell you the truth, I am feeling a bit down in the dumps. I thought Daff would like this new Archbishop of Canterbury and p’raps come tootling back to St Hilda’s, but she’s not having any of it. You see, this fellow Welby seems to be a good egg. I like him but Daff thinks he’s no better than poor old Rowan.

Yes, Ian it’s true she calls him ‘The Druid’. I don’t happen to think it’s all that funny, but I suppose it’s better than “Beardy Weirdie” or “Cookie Monster” which I’ve heard a few times. It’s disrespectful and I’m a pretty easy going sort of chap, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

But I like this new chap. Justin Welby. Sounds like a character from Dickens. Rather. Some folks have got themselves all worked up because he went to Eton. I can’t see anything wrong with that, after all, the Prime Minister went to Eton, and if there’s a bit of the old school tie, secret handshakes and an inside job, well that’s how the world turns. Bit of clubbiness never hurt.

That’s right Clive, Canon Huffington-Post and I did go to the same school. Charnel House. Go Guts and Glory! Har har. Not a bad place. Food was pretty awful, but that’s how it was in those days. Huffington Post was called Piggy back then. My name? I’m not telling. All right then, everyone called me Humpy. Very funny thing happened once. Piggy was chums with this little fellow with funny teeth we called Mouse. Piggy had a terrible temper and one day in the dining room Mouse put a dollop of fish paste on Piggy’s chair while the Headmaster was saying grace. Chairs were pulled out and Piggy sat down in the fish paste. Poor Piggy went all red faced and started strangling poor Mouse. Matron had to wade into the fray and pull him off. Piggy and Mouse both got six of the best on the lower deck for that one, but I’m getting off the point. P’raps the Prime Minister and the Archbishop were at school together. Not a problem as far as I’m concerned. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t I always say.

Like I say, I like him. The fellow’s got some real life experience. Used to work for a company selling salad oil I believe. Don’t know what that involved, but it can’t have done him any harm to have a bit of experience in the workplace. Why, I remember one summer after college I had a job selling toilet brushes door to door. Toughens you up a bit. He’s also worked out in Nigeria for a spell. That must be a good thing. It’s tough out there. The white man’s grave. Heart of Darkness and all that.

Besides, this Welby chap’s also more my sort of churchmanship. I’ve never been one to go in for all this charismatic business. Falling about on the floor and babbling in tongues and all that sort of thing? It’s not really quite what we want in the dear old C of E now is it? What does Marjorie Huffington-Post always say? “Enthusiasm is an odious thing.” ‘Bout right. But it seems he’s moved on from that. They say he has a Catholic spiritual director and visits Benedictine monasteries. Broad church then. That’s what I approve of. Steer a steady course. Remember what the gospel says, “Broad is the way…”

Well lads, I thought Daphne would be delighted to hear that the new man goes to monasteries and has a Catholic spiritual director and all that palaver, but she’s having none of it. When I mentioned over my cup of Earl Gray she looked up and gave that harumphing sound she is so fond of and said it’s all play acting, and if he was really Catholic he’d go cap in hand to the Pope and become a proper Catholic. I was not happy, not happy at all, and I said so. The man’s trying to please everybody, and isn’t that what being a vicar is all about?

Daff kept it up saying the fellow was doing everyone a dis service by pretending to be Catholic when he wasn’t, and that was the problem with the Church of England, they think being Catholic is only a matter of wearing a different hat and reading a book on prayer by some fellow called Father Robert Roar or some such.

She reminded me about this American fellow we had over here once. Name was Lance Boyle. He had got it into his head that he wanted to be English. He went around wearing tweed suits and smoking a pipe and drove a Bentley and drank real ale. He bought  Duffington Manor over in Little Piddlington, joined the bell ringers, the local cricket club and even joined the Morris Dancers for a time. Problem was, he wasn’t English. Daff said it was much the same with people like the new Archbishop–More cope and chasuble than Catholic.

Then, this afternoon I had to preside at the Clergy Fellowship Luncheon. Yes, Rev Lav, as you call her was there… [Read More]