ELY CATHEDRAL, scene of the science festival that featured the dinosaur, was the butt of many jokes — quite unfairly, but then this column is seldom about fairness: “The new recruit had brought the average age of the cathedral canons down quite considerably” (Martin Miller); “New vestments were commissioned to celebrate the ethos of the cathedral” (Christopher Wilson); “I’m in charge here while the Dean’s on sabbatical” (Brian Hebblethwaite); “’That’s what every cathedral needs,’ thought the Dean, ‘a bursar with real teeth’” (Bridget Swan); “The new style of clerical collar was not enough to convince the Sunday-school children that cathedral clergy are not old fossils” (Sandra Tracey); and “Some of the older cathedral guides should have retired years ago” (Edward Mynors).
It must be remembered that dinosaurs are terribly popular, and so the following entries should clearly be read in this light: “The Evangelicals are coming!” (John Delius); “Something told them the new canon was Forward in Faith” (Stephen Disley); ”GAFCON install their new Missionary Bishop of Edinburgh” (Chris Haywood); “Yes, children, so a great big asteroid came and finished off flying bishops” (Richard Crockett); and “Slight surprise as a member of the General Synod wandered in” (Eric Lishman).
Other people our readers wanted to affirm were archdeacons, naturally: “The Archdeacon’s Visitation was as popular as ever” (Richard Barnes); “So far only three of my children are archdeacons” (David Smith); and “Well, at least the Archdeacon has taken the opportunity to express his true self” (Dru Brooke-Taylor).
Most of the entries, though, focused on age or outlook: “The dinosaur was wearing a dog collar. No change there, then” (Chris Beeson); “They should never have given him the freehold” (David Hill); “That reminds me — we really must invite the vicar to tea” (Ray Morris); “Everyone thought the old Bishop was looking well” (Bridget Swan); “So the dinosaurs weren’t extinct after all. Perhaps there was hope for the Church” (Tim Robinson); and “Dinosaurs in the Church — so what’s new?” (Alison Rollin).
Church Times readers can be relied upon to examine our photos closely: “One girl was particularly interested in which gender (if any) the dinosaur was” (Richard Hough). Sometimes too closely: “Unfortunately, the child was never recovered, but the buggy passed right through” (John Appleby).
Readers reckoned they knew which service the creature preferred: “Look, there’s a BCP tucked behind his ear” (John Hutchinson); “Do they still have Prayer Book services here?” (Patrick Irwin); on the other hand: “Excuse me, I was hoping for a Triassic Mass, but you only seem
to have Cretaceous Worship” (Richard Barnes).
Other entries: “The advert for a new rector had included one small but important spelling error” (George Frost); “May I eat one now, or do I have to wait for lunchtime?” (Patrick Irwin); “She wants to know whether there are any creationists in the church. She would very much like to meet one” (Ian Barge); “Generalodicus Synodicus” (Keith Disney); At Ely, the diocesan secretary’s Bach was as good as his bite” (Paul Evans); and “Oh dear. It looks as though Father Jeckyll has forgotten his medicine again” (Dru Brooke-Taylor)
Among our particular favourites: “There were a few surprises at every pet service” (George Frost); “It quickly became apparent that some HTB church-plants were just a tad predatory” (Andrew Hunt);
“Every so often the organist went a bit strange and ate a choirboy” (Eric Lishman); and ”They were sure they had been told to expect a rapture” (John Saxbee).
Many of these could have won a prize of Fairtrade chocolate, kindly supplied by Divine (divinechocolate.com); but, in the end, the editor chose two.