READERS of this column will know about the Editor’s aversion to most puns, but sometimes even he has to give in graciously.
So, we had "This week’s sermon was to be the Reverend Duffy’s swansong" (George Frost); "The Vicar’s swansong attracted a variety of strange animals" (Richard Hough); "Swan-upmanship" (Richard Barnes); "What next? An aisle of dogs?" (John Saxbee); "New bishop of Swans(ea)?" (Tom Page); and so on.
That said, readers of a sensitive disposition may wish to skip the rest of this paragraph: "This poultry attempt at attacking the congregation constituted a clear act of fowl play" (Michael Foster); "You might think I look like a goose, but that doesn’t give you the right to have a gander" (Andy Muckle); "The first collection was poultry, but it was followed by another off a tree" (Christopher Wilson); "Waddle the Church get up to next?" (Tom Page); and "Watch out! The ostrich is bringing up the rhea" and "Listen, it’s our cygnature tune" (both Monica Pickering).
Attempting to restore a little order: "No one knew who they were: they just walked in, saved the day, grabbed the monkey and the swan and walked out" (George Frost); "It’s the Bishop of Bath & Wells on the phone: one of his swans has gone missing" (John Radford); "So, who’s got the five gold rings?" (Chris Coupe); and "Oh, no! We’ve only just got rid of the pigeons" (Bill Scott).
Despite a reputation for silence in some swan species, several of our readers could hear the swan speaking: "Help! Send your photos to the Queen before the chef takes me down to the kitchen" (John F. H. Smith); "What are you lot gandering at?" (Peter Walker); "No monkey business, folks, or you’ll get my bill" (Janet Stockton); "Normally, I’m the quiet type, but I feel as though I should make a speech" (Bridget Swan); "Taken forcibly from the river, and now irritated by the intrusive cameras, the swan hissed: ‘And up yours!’" (Nicholas Varnon).
Not all were animal-lovers: "Swan or goose, Humphrey didn’t care: he was wringing its neck once all this was over" (Russ Bravo); "Despite the smiles, this was definitely going to be the last pets service" (Chris Coupe); "I’ll give you ‘smile’, he hissed. The swan remained mute" (Alison Rollin); "After the annual pet-blessing, dinner at the deanery was frequently superb" (Derwyn Williams).
Were there a prize for best eyesight, it would go to Richard Barnes for: "Vanessa was equally proud of her red butterfly." (Look again at the photo.) We also liked: "Monica was trying to hide the fact that her pet had been turned into a set of bagpipes" (Sue Chick).
One reader deserves a section of her own: "The Swan family always dreaded swan upping Sunday;" "OK, Odette, you do the serene top bit, and I’ll do the frantic foot work;" "Toby’s was all white, but Freddie’s was a bit of a monkey;" and "Good heavens, it’s a canon SLR" (all Bridget Swan).
In the tribute section: "Who said a comedy act with a man and an uncontrollable bird couldn’t be replicated?" (Chris Coupe); "Eat your heart out Rod Hull" (Vicky Lundberg); "Manhandling the beast was bad enough, but Richard see the Rod Hull and Emu jokes coming a mile off" (Russ Bravo).
Patrick Irwin was thinking in pairs: "Bringing together Songs of Praise and Countryfile made financial sense, but led to some odd combinations" and "The merger of the Prayer Book Society (PBS) with the RSPB produced some strange results." He also sent: "The C. S. Lewis Festival was more Narnia than Screwtape Letters."
A few more: "The acolyte had already lost one arm. . ." (Valerie Budd); "Baptism does funny things to ugly ducklings" (Don Manley); "St Hugh’s appearance at the Pet Service took everyone by surprise" (Derek Wellman); "I don’t believe it: photobombed by someone swanning around in a white dress" (Andy Muckle); and "At last, an alternative to fish suppers" (Kerry Peniket).
It was a full mailbag/inbox, but we picked up the following for particular praise: "His stars had told him he’d be holding a bird in his arms before nightfall, so he couldn’t really complain" (Alison Rollin); "The albs weren’t quite so white for the recessional" (Charles Taylor); "The procession represented the congregation: swanning about and mute at the front, with some monkey business at the back" (Neil Inkley); "Couldn’t hear a thing through the sound system: the swan was on mute" (Tom Page).
It was a hard choice, but we singled three entries out for the Fairtrade chocolate prizes, courtesy of Divine (divinechocolate.com).