THE Christmas daffodils did not mean that winter was quite ruled out in a few pockets of the country.
Our readers can be relied on to bring references from literature and hymnody: “A cold coming they had of it: just the wrong time of year for a service” (Derwyn Williams); “The grave’s a fine and private place — unless it snows” (Janet Appleby); “The re-enactments of the St Wenceslas Society valued enthusiasm over accuracy” (David Hill) — although it goes downhill from here: “Of the Father’s Love Toboggan” (Jonnie Parkin).
Talking of going downhill: “I told them relaxing the restrictions on ornaments in the churchyard would be the start of a slippery slope; but would they listen?” (Rich Clarkson).
On the compulsion front: “You’ll go to choral evensong if I have to drag you there myself” (Eric Lishman); “The young curate was determined that there would be at least one child in Sunday school” (Chris Coupe); and: “Nothing would stop the lads from the estate getting to Prayer Book matins” (David Hill).
A slight air of inevitability: “The Quick and the Sled” (Mervyn Cox); “Going to church can be such a drag” (Chris Coupe); “No, I didn’t say ‘Bring out your sled’” (Anna James); and “Sleighed in the Spirit” (David Hill).
More off-beat: “I must say this meerkat round my neck makes life difficult” (Eric Lishman); “Fluorescent gnome removed from churchyard after DAC rejects retrospective faculty application” (Jonnie Parkin).
In our Renewal and Reform corner: “Church attendance was sliding again” (Richard Barnes); “The new curate is great when it comes to pulling in the young people” (John Saxbee); “The future of churchgoing depends more on ‘pull’ than ‘push’ factors” (Alexander Faludy); and “Snowy Church hadn’t quite lived up to the vicar’s hopes” (Derwyn Williams).
A few general entries: “Even at the happiest of times, Simon’s parents liked to reinforce in him a sense of his own mortality” (George Frost); “Climate change or not, they were not going to be late for the Harvest Festival” (Ray Morris); “All this to prove that it’s as cold inside the church as it is outside the church” (Chris Coupe); and “The Rector wondered whether the new funeral directors were treating the job with the necessary solemnity” (Rich Clarkson).
We particularly liked: “You’re out, you whingeing Pom. Sorry, wrong type of sledging” (Richard Martin); “Even in the deepest winter, no incumbent was safe from the unannounced DAC inspections to ensure compliance with Churchyard Regulations” (David Hill); and “Winterwatch camera captures the adaptive behaviour of the Lesser Spotted Churchgoer” (Richard Barnes).
Two favourites this week, the senders of which will receive Fairtrade chocolate, courtesy of Divine (www.divinechocolate.com). Let’s hope they haven’t given it up for Lent.