Hullo, Justin here...
I write as the young man with the wire in his ear, my lady wife, Blanche the Diocese Secretary and several other people who I assume must hold positions here at the Palace, were assembled in the Great Library in front of a television of frightening proportions. It was delivered earlier in the day and I did remark upon it at the time, to which my lady wife replied, “Well you don’t think I’m going to watch the match on that antique you peer at Songs of Praise on, do you?”
For a moment I was nonplussed then I remembered that, of course, that was the night the England Football Team made its first appearance in the World Cup, and I have to say that a certain tension had been building here, as had supplies of what appear to be tins of export lager.
As I think I may have said earlier, my game is cricket. In the days when I still played (Bishop’s fifth eleven), there was a certain English tranquillity about it. Our home ground was Langley’s Bottom, quite near to Glossop. Crispin, the Bishop of Glossop, was an inspiring leader, swinging his mighty bat at anything that moved, including fielders. I batted down the order at Number nine and as I recall, made 8 not out once, on a beautiful day in late August, also having been called upon to bowl my slow off-spinners earlier in the game. I think I came away with 1 for 209. I gained my single wicket because the batsman had nodded off. But then, in those far-off days, winning was entirely secondary to taking part. There were no clenched fist victory salutes. Even the Bish, so fierce in attack, was first to commiserate with the opposition’s wicket keeper after felling him with a mighty leg side slog. I can hear his words now, as the unfortunate player was rushed to Intensive Care – “Oh I’m most dreadfully sorry!” (then aside to a blood-spattered umpire – “That bugger won’t stand so close next time, eh?”)
Try as I might during our marriage, I signally failed to interest my lady wife in cricket. Even the Barmy Army, an amusing mixture of enthusiasm and alcohol, fails to move her. Instead, she favours football and an entirely different kind of physical confrontation. And so it is that here I sit, penning these few words under the stairs in the Lower Kitchen. I was invited to join the throng in front of the enormous television in the Great Library, but was asked to leave after I said I hoped the best team won. I feel sure that if Jesus had been asked that question, he would have given the same answer.
But my time in this small space will not be wasted. I am about to compose a letter to all the leaders of the warring factions in Iraq. It will be a fairly firm epistle. It will rebuke them for being so very beastly to each other, and will also suggest that they refrain from bolting heavy machine guns to the backs of Toyota Landcruisers. Owners’ manuals clearly show that a heavy machine gun will severely compromise said vehicle’s road holding. Especially when discharged.
I must begin...