Day 12: Westcroft to Whitchurch

The day started warm and a tad drizzly. Set off at a sharp pace, but another case of here we go round the mulberry bush as we get lost in fields yet again.

Tartan Titan

Nicola Sturgeon has to be the most talented politician in the western world right now. She must be because she appears to carry the entire dismally poor-performing SNP on her shoulders. We learn that she is angered to be called “prejudiced” against the English. Hard to know the truth, but I reckon her supporters would sooner support Mongolia when playing football than England. Funny how the name “National” would be unacceptable if there was to be an “English National Party” as it would conjure up tattoos, reverse baseball hats and thugs with baseball bats, but it’s apparently an okay title provided tartan is wrapped around it!

Vaccination Vexation

I understand that the vast majority of new cases of COVID are in hospital because they refused to accept vaccination. I ask myself why I should be obliged to pay for the treatment of these idiots when their hospital occupancy was probably brought about by their own obduracy.

Cross About Dressing

I am all for change – provided it brings improvement. But where is the improvement in the rock-bottom slide to Scruff Land in the standard of our dress? The rot began when Presidents Clinton and Bush delivered their State of the Union speeches wearing open-neck shirts. Since then, the decline in how we look has grown inexorably with most of the population lounging about like Dominic Cummings on a bad hair day.

The great, late Noel Coward – “the master” who wrote wonderful plays and lyrics and performed magnificently – felt strongly about standards. He claimed that before the last war, however modest an actor’s role might be, he or she would invariably be dressed in a pressed suit and tie or a smart dress while rehearsing. When asked why they bothered to dress smartly for a mere rehearsal, Coward replied that it was out of respect for the building, the other actors and the play itself. Quite so!    

Thankfully, the retreat is not universal. Most sports demand a strict dress code as is the case with hunting and shooting.

Dressing Down

The top prize for inappropriate dress, however, must be awarded – as I have proclaimed in other blogs – to those vicars who wear sporty sweatshirts and gym shoes while officiating. I suppose they do so in the hope of being as one with their congregations, but this is plainly mistaken. They should be setting an example. There are few enough role models for the young and impressionable today as it is. When a vicar starts to preach dressed like Steptoe, I stop listening. Sorry but it’s involuntary.

Divine services should be respectful and seek to attract worshipers by the dramatic use of space, a well-trained and formally dressed choir, by beautiful surroundings and the vestments of the leaders. How do you create a sense of the numinous when the look and sound is of a Glastonbury pop festival? 

If you are invited to meet the queen, most people dress up. Why is it appropriate to dress down when you are meeting the king of kings?

All is Vanity

During my time when I was – uneasily – a member of medium-size church PCC, the administrator announced she was off to another job. She proposed that a three-month handover period was vital so her replacement could “shadow” her. The implication was that her work was so varied and complex that the new recruit would have to be “taught”, and at enormous length too, how to do it. Of course, this would come at a double-the-salary cost to the church – but she was adamant that without such a handover, chaos would reign!

I volunteered that on one famous occasion when a chancellor of the exchequer was replaced, there was no handover period – just an empty desk and a note reading, “I’m afraid there is no money”. But leaving that joke aside – which horribly backfired – it’s the same for all government ministers: you either sink or swim. If a new chancellor can, like Atlas, shoulder the vast responsibilities of the nation in an instant and without a wet nurse, why should the handover of a bog-standard job in a church be any different? All a bright new manager or new entrant to a job needs are instructions for the coffee machine, the whereabouts of the loo and a good luck note. And if they aren’t bright and raring to go unaided, why are they being hired in the first place?

My suggestion was met in total silence. I resigned soon after for alpha males and church PCCs make uneasy bedfellows at the best of times.

I have little doubt that my suggestion was ignored. But surely this is a no brainer. Intelligent people can do most things and quickly as well. And understandably they will want to do things their way and are bound to find someone hovering at their elbow both patronising and an intense irritant.    

The most extravagant claims of the complications of a business I ever heard were made by overpaid executives working in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. They proclaimed that it took at least three generations to truly understand the intricacies of the industry. Their pompous bubble was neatly pricked when, during the endless and vicious litigation of the early nineties, a High Court judge, Lord Justice Kerr, had good reason to understand exactly how the market worked. He set to – and it took him a single afternoon!  

What drives the idea that a long handover is essential for any job? You need look no further than Ecclesiastes 1:2: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity.”


Skip to comment form

    • Judy Carter on September 11, 2021 at 6:01 am
    • Reply

    Here are some proverbs from Mashonaland “Ane benzi ndeane rake kudzana unopururudza “. – ” When a mad man dances for you – you must clap, for one day you migh
    t be the dancer “.
    “Mabasa kuchonya uri Murima “. – It is of no use to wink in the dark.
    Mapudzi anowira kusina hari “. Pumpkins are plentiful where there are no pots.
    “Simba rehove riri mumvura “.- The.strength of a fish is in the water ‘.
    Thank you Tom and Jane and ZANE for all that you do for us in Zimbabwe.

    • Tom on September 11, 2021 at 6:45 pm
    • Reply

    Great from Judy one of nicest and kindest ladies to grace Zimbabwe

    • Tom Paddon on September 12, 2021 at 12:10 am
    • Reply

    After my hospital appointment with a Consultant I went to the tea bar run by the excellent volunteers of the”hospital friends”.
    Sharing a table with an elderly lady and her daughter I was surprised when the lady leaned across to me and said “Excuse me but may I sayhow nice it is to see a gentleman properly dressed”.
    At the age of 88 I was delighted to receive a compliment from the opposite sex and thought it was a
    bit unkind when her daugiter chirped up “stop flirting Mother”
    I will continue to wear my blazer and tie and polish my shoes on future visits !

    • Anthony Reynolds on September 12, 2021 at 7:21 pm
    • Reply

    Dressing down: This morning our sermon was on “Leaving an example.” (1 Tim 4:12, 1 Cor 11:1) (I wanted to add, 1 Peter 2:21f.) The preacher was born in Lagos. He wore a tie and a smart suit. All the congregation was clean and smart. 90 per cent were black. And this is South Bucks!
    A month ago there was a BBC2 programme on Hillsong, the maga-church in Sydney. Young pastors wore scruff and jeans, and trainers costing up to a thousand dollars.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.