Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Rum goings-on in Much-Felching-on-the-Wold

The pleasant Gloucestershire village in which I have spent most of my retirement is unusual in a number of respects. It is, for example, the only parish in England which technically belongs to the Church of Balubaland (which is basically a branch of the Church of England, but with less flower arranging and the regular inclusion of a number of services sadly dropped by the current C3 mob of bishops in synod, such as the Grendling of the Sick, the Burial of the Nearly Dead and Sung Comminations with Live Ammunition).

The reason for this unusual state of affairs is that as local squire, I have the parish within my gift and chose to appoint my old chum the Revd Algernon "Corpus" Christie, last regimental chaplain of the Royal Wugga-Wugga Rifles and Suffragan Bishop of Balubalubaland. Unfortunately, Christie was denied further preferment within the Church of England proper following The Unfortunate Incident on Lake Nyasa, during which the steamer on which he was doing his episcopal rounds was attacked by local pirates.

Like any English gentleman, he stoutly defended the vessel with his hunting rifle, potting several of the pirates in the process. This would have gone unnoticed in Lambeth Palace but for the letter he subsequently wrote to The Times praising his gunsmiths (Messrs Bolton, Piper and Shariatmadari of Caversham, Ladysmith and Isphahan) for their fine workmanship, which came to the attention of the then Archbishop of the Smaller African Colonies, the Rt Revd Horsa "Hunter" Stamp MA. Christie was duly censured mildly for un-episcopal conduct but told firmly to confine his ministry to His Britannic Majesty's darker-skinned subjects from then on.

Where was I?

Oh yes - the parish. It has come to the attention of the new bishop that goings-on "which impact negatively on the current managerial and diversity targets of the diocese" have been noticed at St Dymphna's, and a young curate - named Athanasius Knutter of all things - has been sent to inspect the parish's affairs.

Chap arrived in a small foreign car, and had the general look of something that lives under a stone. Always prepared to start on the right foot no matter what, I greeted him with "Welcome to Much-Felching-on-the-Wold! D'ye hunt?"

"Er, thank you" he replied, looking rather nervous. "Actually, in line with the church's current HR policy, you're not allowed to ask me a question like that."

"Is that so?" I replied, mildly disconcerted. "Well in that case - who d'ye hunt with?"

"Nobody, actually" he simpered, starting to sweat.

"Well we have to put that right for a start! Next Friday, you must come drag hunting with us" I said, misjudging the necessary force to slap him on the back in a suitably manly fashion and sending him ricocheting teeth first off a buttress.
He paled, and let out a small whimpering noise.

However, he did have the pluck - not to mention common decency - to accept the invitation, apparently thinking that drag hunting involves pursuing a scent laid harmlessly across the fields. Our local version involves taking the hounds to "The Hair Stylist's Arms" on cabaret night and chasing down cross-dressers. But sportingly - they get a five-minute head start and a chance to remove their high heels first.

Here's how!


  1. Glad to hear the new padre's fitting in, old man. How did the hunt go? I sent Spud Mulligan down to return those Purdeys I'd borrowed for D Day and haven't seen nor smelt the blighter since.

    Last time I heard of the Burial of the Nearly Dead was the matter of Capt Scott. A multiple volunteer, as I recall. There was even a ditty about it I heard once in the Mess. Parody of Milton Hayes's "Green Eye of the Little Yellow God". Wish I could remember it, and much else.

  2. Just 'logged in' as the youngsters say to post about the hunt and one or two other things, as it happens. Bit of a mystery about Mulligan - may have to check rumours about the smell behind Spango Mullins's vardo which may or may not be related.
    I'll dig out the recitation about Scott in due course, which is more thatn one can say for Scott. Wouldn't thank you for it anyway.