AFTER a long and slightly unplanned summer break, the caption competition returns with a heap of entries from last month’s photo of the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, with a diocesan character.
Shall we get the innuendo out of the way? “‘You’re an ass.’ ‘I get that a lot’” (Jeremy Fletcher); “I sympathise — one or two of my clergy call me something like Bottom, too” (Paul Clifford); “The Bishop felt an ass” (Patrick Irwin); and “The Bishop had been asked to stop scratching his ass in public” (George Frost).
There are subtler ways of being insulting: “The Bishop was keen to practise his sermon. However, the donkey wanted to keep his hind legs” (Ian Garrod); “One day. I’ll be put out to pasture, too” (Janet Stockton); “One of them is a stubborn, cross-bearing beast of burden; the other is a donkey” (John Saxbee); and “Members of the House of Lords were encouraged to team up with colleagues in the Commons” (Richard Hough).
Shakespeare was to the fore in people’s minds: “The Bishop regretted giving his chaplain time off to rehearse for the local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Jonathan Haigh); “Bless me, Bishop! Bless me! Thou art translated” (Paul Clifford); “Bless thee, Father Bottom, thou art translated” (Christopher Cornford); and “OK, Bottom, I’ll ask the diocesan exorcist to see what he can do” (Stephen Disley). And David Hole sent a Shakespearean confection of entries, among them: “Rural ministry has its own special challenges, thought the one on the left”.
Next, references to an older authority “Sorry, there’s no room at the inn” (Bex Brophy); and “For Jesus, I was willing. . .” (Robert Shooter).
More randomly: “That jawbone would be useful at diocesan synod” (John Appleby); “At least people think you work once a week, Bishop. They assume I only do Christmas and Palm Sunday” (Shaun Clarkson); “The Bishop of Bray, I presume?” (Michael Payne); And “Now then, Bishop, remember what it says in your brand new training manual: more carrot, less stick” (John Saxbee).
Then there was: “The Bishop had not expected the locals to be so obstinate” (Patrick Irwin); “The Bishop meets his new neigh-bour” (Richard Hough); “Gerald took the auditions for Palm Sunday very seriously” (Vicky Lundberg); and “Bishop: ‘Why the long face, Vicar?’ Donkey: ‘I’m afraid I’ve made a proper ass of myself, Bishop’” (David Chamberlin).
And more: “Looking for a stable diocese?” (John Barber); “Prior to the staff meeting, it seemed wise to visit his confidential adviser — who was all ears” (Michael Foster); “I see that the cross you have is far bigger than mine — and you say you’ve had it since birth?” (Philip Brooks); “Owing to a squeeze on finances, the Bishop was shown the replacement for his episcopal car” (Chris Coupe); and “I was rather expecting something with five doors . . . but . . . but . . . this will do very well if we can’t afford anything else. . .” (Ian Sheppard).
Among our favourites were two from Richard Barnes: “Triduum Eventing?” and “‘If you ask me,’ said Eeyore gloomily, ‘which you probably won’t, Renewal is more about Dreams than the Bottom line, and Reform more about Numbers 22 than numbers.’” Also: “The Bishop stroked the donkey appreciatively as it had given him an easy ride, unlike the diocesan synod” (Andrew Collie); and “It was an asinine response, but what more could you expect from a donkey?” (Patrick Irwin).
We have saved up our supplies of Fairtrade chocolate, kindly donated by Divine (www.divinechocolate.com), and so can award a record number of entrants.