IT WAS a challenging caption-competition photo last time around, as Michael Foster pointed out: "It may have won first prize in the Bishop’s art competition, but it’s certainly going to cause confusion among the followers of the Church Times caption competition." Chris Coupe suggested: "This is nearly as baffling as the contraption offered to the Pope a few weeks ago."
Opinion was divided, naturally enough. A section of our readers assumed it had some ecclesiastical use: "You spin it and whomsoever it points to will become a bishop" (John Radford); "It’s the Offertory, Dean, but not as we know it" (Richard Barnes); "It was designed by a committee that had never seen an aspergillum" (Bridget Swan); and "Oooh! it’s the IKEA autocenser. The liturgy should . . . fit in here" (Nicky Chater).
The thoughts of most, though, turned to food: "Clergy doubtful about Cruet-launching machine" (Richard Barnes); "I know we said we were low on chrism, but I don’t think pressing cheese will give a suitable solution" (Daphne Foster); "The cheese is in the middle so we could put the pineapple on the horizontal struts" (Sue Chick); "This is just the sort of thing that happens when you get a committee to design an ice cream machine" (Richard Hough); "If you get it right, the sauce will fall onto the meringue" (Bridget Swan); and "They agreed that the Dean was creative with profiteroles" (Brian Stevenson).
And yet more: "The new Feta cheese dispenser didn’t make the foodstuff look that appetising" (Chris Coupe); "Cheese-and-wine parties were fully automated at St Agatha’s" (Patrick Irwin); and "The new still for the Fresh Expressions of Church whisky-appreciation group attracted a certain amount of interest" (Felicity Couch).
Special commendation to Eric Lishman for his observation: "It guards Open Churches: it cuts unwelcome visitors’ clothes with its red laser"; and we liked another of his submissions: "An Ecclesio-Chiminea like this burnt my last church to the ground, so I think I’ll pass."
A couple of local digs from David Hill: "Apparently, Jan, it’s entitled ‘Diocese of Norwich’ because it’s a bit potty"; and "The annual gift from St Edmundsbury was received with the customary boundless enthusiasm."
And then, at random: ". . . and this exhibit is sponsored by Ann Summers" (Richard Barnes); "Once you’re appointed as a chaplain in the Potteries, you’ll eventually be able to appreciate this" (Chris Coupe); "The Mothers’ Union One World tea-pot was a bit of a gimmick" (Patrick Irwin); "Don’t you just hate people who understand art" (Vicky Lundberg); and "Mmm, I’m not sure about the authenticity of the artefact from Cana" (Paulette Yallop).
We especially liked: "The deanery team-building session showed that nothing had really changed" (John Appleby); "The Dean and Archdeacon now find the lost instructions for the flat-pack kit" (Ian Garrod); and a return to the food theme: "Oh, I don’t think that stick of rhubarb will take the weight of the custard flask much longer" (Bridget Swan).
There were two winners, each of whom will receive some Fairtrade chocolate courtesy of Divine (www.divinechocolate.com).