Monday, 31 March 2008

Anal Retention

Another wonderful day for the Bishop at the Diocesan Council...

The Bishop has been informed that, from now on, a 'clear desk' policy will apply. Given the Council's archaic methods for locking papers away, this means that the Bishop will be forced to go into its deep underground vaults to retrieve all papers, ranging from his doodlings during 3 hour meetings to his musings on the latest theological journals, to his thoughts for next Sunday's sermon.

Now, the Bishop understands that, when he is writing a speech for the Cardinal, or when he is drafting a Sunday sermon on ecumenical relations for the Archbishop, he needs to lock it away, lest it end up in the hands of the Tablet before it is released.

But he does not understand why anything else needs to be subject to Top Secret procedures (although he is led to believe that the Scientologists across the road won't even allow doodles to be left out - apparently even these are 'sensitive, but unclassified').

Unfortunately, the Head of Security at the Diocesan Council - let's call him Woody Woodpecker, not least given that he is as annoying as the irritating cartoon character - obviously has a problem with anyone who does not share his fascination with filing. The anal 'pecker clearly had to ruin the Bishop's day by forcing his stamp-collecting views on everyone else...

Whilst this is symptomatic of wider problems at the Council - which tends to promote automaton types who demonstrate strict adherence to orthodox theology, rather than demonstrating any true connection with Our Lord or any ability to empathise with the daily challenges faced by the faithful - the Bishop had hoped that a possible future change at the Vatican might - just - lead to some changes. Tonight, however, the Bishop is losing hope that such change will happen in time, before any clergy capable of relating to those they serve are forced to abandon their Faith...

The Bishop will be meditating on the Meaning of Gethsemane tonight...

Saturday, 29 March 2008

The taste of Gordon Brown

No, this isn't a reference to his, or his wife's, dress sense...

In fact, it refers to Synaesthesia, a condition where people mix the senses, so that numbers have particular colours, or sounds carry particular smells (ahem, no flatulence jokes please...*).

According to the BBC, the President of the UK Synaesthesia Association, one James Wannerton, finds that words and sounds have a particular taste associated with them.

Note that the story's headline refers to the 'taste of George Bush' ('like the crusty potato bit on top of a cottage pie', which is transformed into the headline 'George Bush "like crusty potato"'), whilst the photograph illustrating the piece mentions that Gordon Brown 'tastes like Marmite'.

Now, the Bishop doesn't like to put the BBC down**, but the description of George Bush could be read as an - admittedly rather feeble - attempt to slag off the dear Pres of the good old U.S. of A. From the BBC? Surely not?! Just to make sure, shall we check to see what Mr Wannerton actually says about our beloved leader? Let's!

Gordon Brown leaves me with a very strong taste of dirt and Marmite, so he shouldn't count on getting my vote.
[My emphasis]

Right. So the 'politically unbiased' and 'entirely neutral' BBC twists a comment about George W, whilst underplaying what Mr Wannerton says about Gordy, all because he didn't say that Gordy smells of roses, and therefore deserves to be elected life President. Hmmmm... remind me again why we pay a tax, I mean 'licence fee', for this drivel?

Enough about Al-Beeb.

Well, others have commented on Gordy's personal hygiene, so perhaps the 'strong taste of dirt' is unsurprising. Ditto for all those who, like the Bishop, think that Marmite is probably produced from another substance which is brown and sticky (Oooops! There's my Scatologicia again!).

Anyway, the Bishop would like to ask his Reader what other politicians (and even celebrities) might taste of - answers in the comments please. Here's a few to start off with:

Alistair Darling - a tasteless vegetable of some kind?
Patricia Hewitt - leaves a taste of carbolic soap in the mouth
Caroline Flint - cheap bubblegum?
M Sarkozy - cheese / garlic (no stereotypes there, then...)
Mme Sarkozy - caviar!
William Hague - Yorkshire bitter
David Cameron - toffee

You get the idea...

Prizes: the Bishop will say a few prayers for the winner at Sunday Mass.

*Mrs Brennan is always telling the Bishop that he lowers the tone of conversations at every opportunity. Unfortunately, as the Bishop keeps reminding her, he suffers from a condition known as 'Scatologicia', the inability to resist making a joke about anything related to the back passage. Like all modern Craggy Islanders with 'issues', the Bishop blames it on his parents.

** Actually, that statement contains about as much truth as the famed dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Who said the unions were dead?

Interesting stories today on Devil's Kitchen and Iain Dale about trade unions (trains and education respectively). The Bishop has tried to engage in some debate on this with Norfolk Blogger and a new favourite, To Miss with Love. He must also confess to some prejudices here, in part stemming from a (pub) conversation held some years ago with someone who was then working on education policy at the Diocesan Council.

The Bishop, then a lowly priest, was living across the river from Chav-ville, in what Dr Michael Nazir-Ali might call Islam-No-Go-Tiny-Village. On learning where the person in question worked, the Bishop had the temerity to remark that, were he to have children, there would be as much chance of him sending them to a local school as there might be of Gordon Brown coming out as gay and having been in a relationship with Peter Mandelson, with a rocking horse as the third member of the menage-a-trois*. Well, the Bishop was blown away by the venom of the response, which was basically along the lines of, 'You are not doing your social duty if you do not send your children to the local schools: how will those schools ever get better if people like you don't send your kids there?'.

Unfortunately, at that time, the Bishop had not learned that arguing with a lefty is as futile as expecting banks' shareholders, rather than taxpayers, to bear the burden of their employees' mistakes. He suggested that competition and vouchers, as used to help poor blacks, I mean 'African-Americans', in Chicago might help. Or perhaps the reintroduction of grammar schools, combined with properly-resourced secondary moderns and decent vocational qualifications that offered an alternative to academic subjects.

I leave it to you, my dear Reader**, to imagine the reaction...

Amazingly enough, the Bishop escaped with only minor damage (a broken eardrum and a wet patch on his crotch, the latter entirely due to wetting himself laughing :) ).

Anyway... I seem to have gone somewhat off the point. Ahhh, yes... unions.

Well, the Bishop is a member of the Premier Clerical Union, which has 'moderate' Nu-Labour leanings, although it does not make political donations ('render unto Caesar' and all that...). But this is only in case he is brought before a Consistory Court - he has no desire to have his retirement determined by the nationally-mandated age of 75, and is quite happy to negotiate his own pay with the Diocesan Council or, indeed, the Vatican HR Dept. (should Craggy Island give up more of its powers to the latter; there may be some attractions - for the Bishop, although probably not for his flock - from this; the Bishop understands that they pay a decent stipend and are quite happy to increase the tithe to its more traditional 23% level, found in the Old Testament).

So, perhaps those opposed to unions allegedly standing up for them - when in fact they stand up for nonsense such as national wage bargaining, retirement at 33 3/4, a 2-day week, etc. - should set up their own organisation to provide support in employment tribunals, advice on investments and pensions, etc.? And then negotiate their own terms and conditions, with public sector employers copying their private counterparts and paying according to market conditions.

And unions that seek to abuse monopolistic powers (esp. the gits that ruin the Bishop's daily commute in Gotham) should be subject to the same anti-monopoly laws faced by businesses. Even France requires that transport unions provide some service when on strike - if the cheese-eating surrender monkeys can manage it, surely so can Craggy Island!

*which is, of course, a ridiculous idea.

** My apologies for the assumption that anyone is actually reading my rants. This is really just a space for me to vent my spleen of the frustrations built up from my daily work Ministering in Gotham.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Fancy a Holiday? Got no money? Try stabbing someone!

Or, if that's a little too strong for you, how about a little petty theft?*

Very interesting article in today's Sun:

Now, whilst the Bishop doesn't really like the Sun much - it tends towards the simplistic, although not so much as the Mirror - he does approve of their view about prisons: a small number of criminals commit the vast majority of crimes, ergo locking up criminals prevents crime, as they aren't in the 'community'** to commit more crimes.

But, of course, the flaw in that logic is that prisons are not exactly unpleasant places to be, as the article suggests. This reinforces the story that my friend who runs the local Chippie told me last week, about his friend who is 'inside' for a little 'drunk and disorderly' - astonishing that anyone could be locked up for that these days: must have been really unlucky with the magistrate he got that day :) - and phoned him from his mobile phone to tell him what fun he has been having playing Playstation and the odd game of football with the other inmates.

Jack Straw says that it is unpleasant having a toilet in the corner of a room that you can't leave. To the Bishop, however, it sounds like a "young person's" dream - they never have to leave their room (sounds like a typical teenager to me...), get meals brought to them (better than Mum's! And they're unlikely to be forced to eat vegetables...), and can continue to play their favourite (violent) video game or watch the football on Sky even when they are on the shitter...

*Of course, this wouldn't actually get you a prison sentence in England. If you aren't capable of violence, may I suggest a homophobic insult, or a suggestion that Islam might not be a very nice religion? Should get you life without parole...

** I would be grateful if anyone could tell me where the fashion for talking about 'community' (worse than 'society' - the Bishop is a fan of Hayek) came from. All too PC for my taste...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Primary Madness

A neighbour of mine told me this story the other day - may sound apochryphal, but anyway...

Whilst watching his son play football for a local team, he got talking to another parent who teaches at a local primary school (in Chav-ville, an inner suburb of Gotham, where the Bishop ministers). This teacher told him about the tradition at the school of putting on a musical every year. This year, however, it has been cancelled... Moreover, teaching staff have been instructed, on pain of some kind of Koranic punishment (have you guessed what it is yet?*... :)), to say nothing to anyone outside the school about it.

"Why?", I hear you ask. Local health and safety worried about a child falling over and grazing their knee? The risk that some children cannot sing as well as others, and therefore might suffer from injured egos that mean that they will go on to become crazed serial killers? Or perhaps parents mentioning to the Head that, whilst they love their little darlings ever so much, being forced to sit through another fucking school play may lead to the aforementioned Head's home being accidentally machine-gunned and then transformed into a Damien Hurst-esque symbol of Hell?

Errrr.... no (although the Bishop has some sympathy with the latter thought). Parents are not even concerned about Father Jack and some of the other local priests, who seem to take an excessive interest in what I believe are fashionably (and condescendingly) referred to as 'young people' (i.e. children) these days, wanting tickets for every performance.

In fact, a 10 year old trainee Imam (yes, I didn't know that such a thing existed) has declared that such a play would be immoral, on the grounds that it would involve little boys and girls dancing with each other (I kid you not).

Now, the Bishop, being a man of Our Lord (of sorts, at least), is of course worried about children having sex... But, to be honest, in Chav-ville, once the little darlings are 10, they're far more sexually experienced than the average under-age hooker in Fred West's favourite brothel. If nothing else, because they usually have numerous brothers and sisters, as well as 'cousins' and 'uncles'. And the same may be true of some from amongst our Islamic brethren, who apparently are often engaged to their cousins at very young ages (remember that, according to the Koran - hardly an anti-Islamic text - Muhammed consummated his marriage to his favourite wife when she was 9 years old): our Islamist friends are always reminding us of the need to follow Muhammed's every example, as the ultimate role model for perfect human behaviour (like some of the extremist Christian Protestant sects, they do not want to put their Holy Book in the social context in which it was written, and instead take it as literal truth).

Rather than comment any further, however, I will leave you, dear Reader, to contemplate what this sordid story tells us about the wonderful state of Craggy Island and its education system...

*Apologies to Rolf Harris