As you may have read in the newspapers or seen on television recently, the Church of England is presently embroiled in controversies about how much it pays its employees. Apparently, the Church barely meets the basic living wage in many instances. Quite frankly, I was shocked that, for example, that the cheerful little fellow who opens the Long Car door for me when I attend official functions only receives £6.70p per hour. I confided these concerns to my constant companion, the young man with the wire in his ear. He seemed unmoved and said, “Well, he only opens a door every now and then. How hard can that be? Besides, what does he do when he’s not opening doors? Probably lolls about the place eating free cake”. I confess that I had given little thought to the possibility of Palace multi-tasking. I resolved to find out.
First, I arranged a meeting with my chief accountant, a Mrs Evadne Flint, known, according to my lady wife as “Ice Eyes”.
Mrs Flint was indeed rather off-putting. I must admit to being wary of people who never blink. However, she was able to confirm that not only was my Long Car Door Opener paid a pittance, but that thousands of other Church of England employees, nationwide, were in the same boat. I was staggered and asked Mrs Flint if she thought that was ethical. For the only time during that frosty exchange did Mrs Flint’s tone and demeanor change very slightly. She blinked-just once- and said,“Ethical? What does that mean?” All deeply depressing.
But worse was to come. You may remember that some time ago, I resolved to rescue the poor and needy from the leech-like grip of Wonga, a money-lending company. Well, scanning the various papers prepared for me by Mrs Flint, I discovered that my Church has significant investments in that company!
What would Jesus have done? We all know the answer to that. So, as of next week, I shall personally instruct my financial people to sever all connections with Wonga. Further, I shall recommend in the strongest terms that anyone in the Church’s employ receiving more that £30,000 per annum should donate the difference to what I shall call The Long Car Door Opener Fund, so as to properly reward those so long overlooked and undervalued by my Church. I ran this idea past the young man with the wire in his ear, in the back of the Long Car on our way to The House of Lords the other day. Alarmingly, he choked on the Mars bar he was eating and I was obliged to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on him. Later, back at the Palace, I outlined my plan to my lady wife. She laughed heartily and then began an entirely irrelevant conversation about the early signs of dementia. We shall see, and in the modern parlance, watch this space.
Friday, 27 February 2015
Monday, 16 February 2015
Evelyn: Thankyou Ralph. Now, this week we....
Announcer: Ahem. Its not Ralph, its Philip.
Dear me, I’m so sorry David. As I was saying, this week I’m joined by three outstanding British literary experts and we’ll be discussing the life and work of childrens’ author, Dame Esme Golightly. First, on my left is feminist and occasionally violent protester, Norah Futoff. To my right is Emeritus Professor of Things People May Have Once Said, Kenneth Wiggly, whilst across the table is our old friend, poet Seamus Goat. Welcome, all!
Now, whilst Seamus gets himself off the table and on to a chair, I’d like to ask you, Norah, what first sparked your interest in the books of Esme Golightly.
Norah (for it is she):
Well Evelyn, before I got the call to come on your programme, I’d never beeping heard of the woman, let alone read any of her beeping books. But I did skim through one on the way over here......”Marjorie’s Curious Holiday” it was called and a right load of mid-30s middle class beep it was too. All about a nice little girl with nice little friends who foil a gang of foreign agents. Absolute beep. I also noticed that the agents were “swarthy” and all the nice little beepers where white and that none had spent any time at all in a correctional facility.
Prof Wiggly: Oh I really must protest!
Norah: Protest away beephead
Evelyn: Well, I suspected that Mrs Golightly’s creations might raise the temperature....
Nevertheless, I must try to put the stories into some sort of context. Golightly was writing about a world of nannies and nurseries, of an England ruled by a gentleclass of bank managers and capable caring housewives who played bridge, a land where summer weekends resounded to the thwack of leather on willow, and church clocks stood forever at ten to three....
Sean Goat: Beepocks! Who needs that sort of tripe?
Prof Wiggly: Mrs Golightly’s books were hugely popular
Sean Goat: Aye, and some of ‘em even found their way over to Ireland. Me brother an’ I used to draw tits on the pictures.
Evelyn: So, right – if I can try to bring all these threads together, would it be fair to say that time has not dealt kindly with Mrs Golightly’s offerings; that socio-economic changes have in fact rendered them utterly obsolete and that they bring nothing meaningful to bear on our understanding of contemporary human intercourse?
Sean Goat: And there was none of that in the ones I drew tits on.
Prof Wiggly (sob): I’m going to the lavvie
Evelyn: And indeed, time has beaten us once again. It remains for me to thank my distinguished guests for contributing towards yet another completely useless edition of In Our Time. Goodbye.
Sunday, 15 February 2015
with Marjorie Spofforth
As the first slim fingers of light edged gingerly over the damp sward, dawn's rays began to reveal the myriad trails of peregrinations from the night before. A shallow depression in the grass was all that remained of the nocturnal resting-place of the crested shrew. Alongside towered the leaves of burdock, bejewelled with droplets of dew; from these hung a single hair, the sole reminder that a herd of roe deer had passed in the night.
An early sparkle of sunshine caught the silvery passage of a wartnose slug. Alongside lay the tell-tale pattern of gambolling pawprints left by a pair of hungry pine marten. No sign today of Scarnose, the old dog otter, on his favourite hauling-out point atop the muddy embankment. Instead, just the quiet, joyful ripple of water in the ditch, the busy haunt of gadwall and snipe.
A single leaf spiralling down was all there was to show for the shy marmoset that, on hearing the car-door close, had vanished into the canopy above, there to seek the safety of the tree-tops in the first warmth of the sun. Behind us pink clouds danced over the looming peaks of Surrey Hills now showing through the mist. It was time for us to re-trace our steps across the lay-by and to point the car back to the city beyond.
Monday, 9 February 2015
And they’re popping up all over the place, right? Our leader, Mr Fromage said only the other week that he was on a train, right, and he didn’t hear English spoke once. I mean, that can’t be right, right?
What’s worse, when these Mohammodians or whatever they are come here, they stick together, right, and do the shite jobs we don’t want to do. Shite jobs for the Brits is what I say! And they eat really smelly food. What’s wrong with pie and mash is what I say.
Then there’s the Poles and Romanians and Linoleums who are all plumbers, right, working for a bun and a cuppa.
I mean, we’re already stuck with billions of Indians and Pakistanis and Africans and West Indians, right? OK, some are doing important jobs like being brain surgeons, but come on – we’ve got our own brain surgeons, right?
And crime, right? Research by UBERK shows that 102% of all crime committed in the UK was done by foreign geezers, right?
So vote for UBERK. Close our borders and only open ‘em to let us out to go on foreign holidays.