The Church Times office was inundated with entries for its latest caption competition. Perhaps not surprisingly, some had an election theme: “Do you think that Jeremy Corbyn will give us an extra Bank Holiday for the asparagus?” (Patrick Irwin); “The Greens’ highly publicised election campaign in Worcester rather overshadowed that of UKIP’s” (Peter Brierley); “The Green Party’s surprise victory led to substantial changes in the State Opening of Parliament.” (Patrick Irwin).
For others, recent events in the Anglican Communion came to mind: “Anglican splinter group consecrates asparagus” (Jonnie Parkin); “The GASCON (Global Asparagus Conference) missionary bishop blessed the straight and narrow” (Richard Barnes).
Some could not resist a pun: “Whatever next? ‘Lift High the Cress’?” (John Saxbee); “Choral Vegan Song” and “Mr Asparagus appeared to be something of a stalker” (both Carolyn Owens); “Canon Michael felt that this time The Revd Green had gone too far! He thought they were inviting ‘Britney Spears’” (Jillie Owens); “Bring me my spear, O crowds behold!” (John Appleby); “Maybe it wasn’t quite what Blake had in mind when he wrote, ‘Bring me my spear’” (Richard Martin)
It could all have been an unfortunate misunderstanding: “As the knight’s headgear was responsible for muffled hearing, there was some confusion between aspergillum and asparagus” (Michael Foster); “What a pity, reflected Francis sadly, that his idea of a Service of Blessing for the new aspergillum had been so misunderstood” (Diana Jones).
Some enjoyable musical entries: “In all the excitement, the homemade organic pan-pipes could barely be heard” (David Burgess); “Halfway up the aisle, the vicar had to concede that the idea of accompanying the hymns on pan-pipes needed a rethink” (Nicholas Court); “Try as he might, he couldn’t get a tune out of the new pan-pipes” (Chris Coupe); “St George, a Green Man, and asparagus pan-pipes — very few can match my sermon illustrations, smirked Tompkinson” (Nicholas Varnon).
Some at random: “The Precentor realised with horror that he had forgotten to bring the butter” (Patrick Irwin); “BBC cuts had led to a merger of Songs of Praise, British Castles, and Gardeners’ Question Time” (Patrick Irwin); “The Asparites finally gained recognition as a world faith” (Christopher Lewis); “Childish out-of-touch pantomine and fancy dress provokes Twitter storm among adults who like to dress up as a Roman magistrates” (Jonnie Parkin); “Preparing the candidates for the forthcoming BAP is so much fun!” (Kerry Peniket); “As St George’s Day had to be transferred, they decided to combine it with Harvest Festival” (Valerie Budd)
We particularly enjoyed these: “Asparge me!” (Michael Bourdeaux); “As the procession entered the chancel the choir solemnly intoned, ‘The days of man are but as grass’” (Diana Jones); “It was only halfway down the aisle that the deacon realised someone had amusingly replaced the Gospel with a bunch of asparagus” (David Sims); “Worcester Cathedral was diagnosed with Asparagus Syndrome, or High-functioning Anglicanism” (Richard Barnes).
Also “The Apostolic Delegate from Alpha Centauri had forgotten to wear his vestments, but nobody noticed” (Edward Mynors); “The dignity of the solemn procession was somewhat spoiled by the intrusion of a man dressed in nightie and curtains” (Adrian and Diane Copping); and “Realising that the service continued until ‘zucchini’, there was a gentle thud as the organist fainted” (Sally Prendergast).
Many thanks, once again, to Divine for supporting this competition with a prize of Fairtrade chocolate (divinechocolate.com).