You can’t throw a brick without hitting a vicar in this town. It’s bursting its seams with ‘clergy’. Of many, various and multilingual forms, kinds and denominations. In other words, shout “Reverend” and get trampled in the melée.
There are the chandelier-swingers, often hard of hearing from listening to Christian rock, who get down and dirty with their congregations and ask them to say “Amen” quite frequently.
|Now this, my son, is a real dog collar|
This is a sinister stratagem to ensure nobody nods off before the offering. Then there are those with dog collars. Real ones, desperately uncomfortable pieces of plastic that hug the neck and possibly stretch it, reminding one of Ndebele women in Zimbabwe. Like a good horse-collar, it keeps its Anglo-Catholic owner’s nose firmly and irremediably pointing heavenward to avoid the friction burn that inevitably results if they turn their heads a bit too quickly. High Anglicans thus find doing meek a bit difficult.
Why this unhealthy preoccupation with matters clerical?
I received a threatening email from a so-called friend the other day, who announced – without a trace of apology, I might add – that he was to be “ordained”, and I had better pitch up to the festivities. Or else. At first, I thought he said “enchained”, but I guess my comprehension skills deserted me, momentarily. As soon as it was clear that there were tea and buns to be had afterwards, I signed up.
Ordination. I looked it up. The whole shenanigan involves trading up the diagonal thingy that the church house-elves, otherwise known as ‘deacons’, wear for a proper white long scarf (yes, I do know what it’s called but do give me a little poetic licence) decorated with various motifs advertising one’s allegiances, a kind of ecclesiastical football shirt, and entitling one to fairly advanced privileges. For example, asking if there be just and lawful impediment and so forth and fining the drunk at the back of the wedding service who thinks it’s funny to raise objections. One of the downsides is you have to hold squalling, white-clad infants and pour cold water on their heads. Dropping them in the font would be a good deal more efficient. A memo to Synod, perhaps? And, you get to metaphorically slip a silver dollar in the departed’s mouth to make sure that Charon doesn’t run out of gas on the way over the Styx.
Cathedrals are mostly stone-built, thus uncharitably cold. The venue for the bash lived up to its reputation. It’s a squat, dumpy, unattractive building – a fat spotty girl surrounded by beauty. The phalanx of professional attendees in addition to a rather jolly red-clad bishop was, I have to say, impressive however. Quite a large number of priests turned out in support to welcome the new lads on the team. They had both been under house-arrest with the Franciscans, I gather, for twenty four hours before kick-off. I imagined monastic types who drank a lot of beer sitting in absolute silence. I saw a cardinal. He didn’t smile much, It seemed to me that he either had a persistent dental problem or had recently been baptised in lemon juice. Two men in sinister pointed black cowls glowered balefully, looking rather like twin Angels of Death. I did wonder briefly whether they were the Bishop’s minders. But, no, they had left the scythes outside and it seemed that they were quite harmless Armenian priests. Allegedly.
Incense makes me sneeze, kills fleas and causes migraines. Nevertheless, copious clouds of it were dispensed by a veteran of the smoking handbag, who turned, pirouetted and wafted enthusiastically. I admired his wrist-work, reflecting that the Pope is probably addicted to the stuff. The building was so cold it hung like cigar smoke in the air. It seems that God quite likes the aroma, however, and he is, after all, entitled to burn whatever he wants in his own house, I suppose.
Quite a nice touch was that they gave each of the candidates a Bible. Strange, really – they’d most probably read it already, but this was a gigantic version, weighty and impressive, perhaps with big print like the special section in the library for those with visual impairment.
This particular gentleman in whose honour the proceedings were held has a penchant for, let’s just say, amusing ties which he persists in wearing in public. Now that his choice of neckwear is severely restricted by his new responsibilities, I really must look around for a Bart Simpson clerical shirt for him.
In the event of no further communication on this blog for a while, readers may assume that the Anglican equivalent of the Inquisition has had a word with me. No doubt I shall be out of hospital shortly.