IT WAS all going so well. Actually, if it had been, the Revd Richard Coles, Vicar of Finedon, would still be on Strictly Come Dancing. Now that he has been voted off, are we being unkind to run this week’s caption competition? But if there was one thing that Strictly proved, it was that Richard has a thick enough skin.
There was a certain presentiment in several of the entries: “He danced in the morning and he danced in the sun; he danced down the aisle ’cos he thought it would be fun; but the Bishop came to see him and he said, you see, if you don’t practise hard Craig will give you three! Dance, then. . .” (Sue Chick); “The Revd Richard Coles was about to prove he had the right dance moves for radio” (Chris Coupe); “Coming soon for your entertainment: Last Tango In Parish” (John Aves); and “Don’t leave me this way” (Kate Bouckley).
Other entries were a little more upbeat: “What Tess has joined together, let not voters put asunder” (Richard Barnes); “Saturday nights were never as glamorous as this at theological college” (John Radford); “It was always exciting when the new vestment catalogue arrived” (Jeremy Fletcher); and “Fr Richard dreamt he had arrived in heaven. It wasn’t at all what he expected” (Alan Jewell).
These are enlightened times, of course: “Cheer up, ladies. Next season you’ll be able to dance together” (Patrick Irwin); “Strictly speaking, a Ladies’ Excuse-me should not occur in a dancing competition” (Alison Rollin); and “I must say, the Mothers’ Union has certainly moved on” (Eric Lishman).
There were some budding archdeacons among our entrants: “I’m not strictly licensed to conduct same-sex weddings” (Valerie Budd); “Richard — we’ve just had a call from your bishop at the diocesan conference, who would like a chat about your sick note” (David Hanford); and “So, with all these TV and radio shows you are involved with, who actually runs your parish?” (Peter Walker).
Naturally, we discourage anything self-referential: “You do realise, Reverend, that appearing in the Church Times caption competition will do far more for your career than cavorting on Strictly” (Ian Barge); and “After Strictly he’ll surely be heading up the Church Times TAP appeal” (John Saxbee).
On to parish matters: “The two adult baptism candidates had prepared for total immersion in very different ways” (Edward Mynors); “Unfortunately, the Revd Richard could only dance to Ordinary Time” (Avril Forrest); “The Revd Richard Coles has been helping Diane to develop her ‘pastoral head-tilt’” (Che Seabourne); and “Some in the congregation questioned the new verger’s uniform” (George Frost).
A few more: “It was as the traditionalists feared: the change of canon law had led to all sorts of inappropriate vestments. Still, at least there were more young men in the pews than ever before” (David Sims); “Strictly Come Dancing meets Men in Black” (Patrick Irwin); “Dianne is wearing Wippell’s new cha-cha-chasuble” (Richard Barnes); and “The lengths you have to go to these days to get new singers into the church choir” (Richard Hough).
Among our favourites were: “Don’t worry, Tess, she’ll be safe with me” (Bridget Swan); “The Revd Richard Coles’s new curate was delighted with the General Synod’s decision to amend Canon B8” (Joan Wagstaff); “Not all of the Finedon servers were happy with the new micro-cotta” (Richard Barnes); “My main hobby is saving fallen women” (Eric Lishman); and: “You owe me big time, Tess, thought Dianne” (Vicky Lundberg).
There was one winner this week, who will receive a supply of fairtrade chocolate, kindly donated by Divine (divinechocolate.com).