FOR those who did not recognise the face, or the pose, our last caption competition featured the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North.
Probably best to get the obvious jokes out of the way first: “It’s great up North!” (Janet Stockton); “Look, North, are you sure you are going in the right direction?” (David Nash); and “Bishop Philip firmly set the tiller to north-west by North” (Neil Inkley).
Clearly several readers felt that the Bishop cut a dash. “He should have turned over the page: the parish profile read the new incumbent should model good practice, not just model” (Vicky Lundberg); “Jacket £59.99, Clerical Shirt £34.99, Trousers £45.99, Pose . . . priceless” (Tom Page); “Wippell’s new catalogue is aimed at the more fashion-conscious clergy” (Valerie Budd); and “Man at C of E” (Richard Barnes).
Some went even further: “Not quite an Aston Martin, but the Bishop of Burnley still fancied his chances as the new James Bond” (Peter Law-Jones); and “To everyone’s surprise, the Church of England’s bid to reboot the 007 franchise was accepted. James Bond will be leaner, greener, and er, a priest. . .” (Peter Chapman).
A few larks: “The Bishop’s attempt to shake off his middle-class, C of E image by joining the Mission to Seafarers was a mixed success” (George Frost); “Government cuts have enabled Royal Navy chaplains to be attached to very small vessels” (Patrick Irwin); and “Having accepted the post of chaplain on a cruise vessel, this wasn’t quite what was expected” (Michael Foster).
Our obligatory tilts at the Green report: “There’s more than one way into the talent pool” (Valerie Budd); “Even members of the ‘talent pool’ can get slowed down in the backwaters of church life” (Martin Miller); plus, for those whose memory stretches far enough back: “Min Div asked the Bishop to update the Tiller Report” (Charles Taylor). Then there was the gloomy: “With one foot already on the step, was the Bishop preparing to abandon a sinking ship?” (Chris Coupe).
With reference to the lifebelt, we liked the weirdness of: “The on-board refreshments were a let-down, consisting entirely of one large, half-sucked, strawberry-flavoured fruit Polo” (Deirdre Schnaar), an idea that was, strangely, not unique: “Perhaps a strawberry Polo mint can help to lead the way” (Ron Wiffen).
Other lifebelt gags: “His halo may have slipped, but he stood proud” (Richard Barnes); “Fr James’s set of liturgical lifebelts was the talk of the Kennet and Avon Canal. Today was Pentecost” (Patrick Irwin).
Among our favourites: “Ever since he had misheard the Sunday-school reading when he was five, Fr John had wanted to hunt down Pontius Pirate” (Tom Page); “The dangers of predictive text became apparent when the takeaway delivered a Grand Union bargee” (Charles Taylor); and “Make me a canal of your priest” (Richard Barnes).
As for a winner, Tom Page was firing on plenty of cylinders this week, and wins a double helping of Divine fairtrade chocolate (www.divinechocolate.com).