Despite the grievous and dreadful things happening all over the world, I have felt the need recently to preach about the ordinary, the mundane, the everyday. It seems to me obvious that a Churchperson of High Office such as myself is bound to call for world peace, and indeed, most do, but often, I think, great sins oft spring from tiny transgressions.
And so I determined to do what many millions of people do every evening and watch television. This is not as easy as it was, bearing in mind my lady wife’s recent obsession with Sky Sports – rugby league in particular – so I did my viewing via the far smaller set in my study. I was undisturbed for quite some time because the young man with the wire in his ear also favours the league version of the violent game I was forced to play at school.
So I settled back in the early evening with a comforting cup of Bournvita and tuned to a popular channel showing something called “The Great British BakeOff”. This programme boasted a delightfully simple format. Two professional bakers, one a chubby bearded fellow called Holyrood, and the other a very old lady whose name I forget, gave baking contestants difficult things to make. Now, my lady wife used to be an excellent baker until last Christmas when the seasonal cake she produced nearly did for the Bishop of Chelmsford. He had three slices. Fortunately, the young man with the wire in his ear, sensing that something was not quite right when he saw Chelmsford in conversation with the hall hat stand, ran and fetched his breathalyser. My Lord Bishop turned out to be four times over the limit, having drunk orange juice all evening. He stayed in the guest room.
However, the bake-off programme seemed comparatively innocuous and involved contestants having to make a Baked Alaska pudding. Initially, there was much scurrying about in an outdoor tented kitchen with two presenters making passably amusing comments at the contestants’ antics. Apparently, Baked Alaska features an ice-cream centre and the outdoor kitchen was very warm. Consequently, a place in the refrigerator for one’s ice cream was vital.
You can imagine my surprise when one of the contestants, a young bearded man with surprised-looking hair, found that HIS ice cream had been unceremoniously REMOVED FROM THE FRIDGE!
Worse was to come. His ice cream had been removed BY A FELLOW CONTESTANT! This turned out to be an hitherto very pleasant older lady. The upshot was that the young man with surprised hair threw his hopelessly melted ice-cream into the bin and walked away.
I found this all mildly disturbing. But only mildly so. It was only the following morning when I scanned the newspapers and listened to the BBC news and found that apparently the entire nation was up in arms about this incident. The older lady had received death threats and is now under armed guard at a secret location. The young gentleman with the surprised hair has had his name put forward to be the next Pope.
I was staggered. Staggered and saddened that in the face of the world’s real troubles, so much anger could be caused by a ruined Baked Alaska.
Nevertheless, I shall continue to base my sermons on common or garden day to day events for a little while longer, beginning next Sunday with a few words about someone called Simon Callow refusing to change his own child’s nappy for less than £10,000.
Goodness knows what Jesus would have done about that !