THE latest Church Times caption competition produced an election special: “A West Country bishop weighs up which party to help through the hoop” (Paul Brett); “Sorry, bishop: just to cover our backs, can we get a UKIP purple ball in shot?” (Shaun Clarkson); “C of E election priorities revealed: push Blue and Yellow together, don’t touch Red” (Richard Martin); and “The Bishop was demonstrating that, in his opinion, the Conservatives would knock the Liberal Democrats right out of play” (Daphne Foster).
The men and women in white suits could not be ignored: “All in white shall wait around” (Jonathan Haigh); “The setting for the new Persil advert was now ready” (Richard Hough); “He could have one more go before the people in white coats took him away” (Stuart McDonald); and ”The new Alpine croquet squad had a high-profile launch” (John Appleby).
Many of the entrants clearly knew the game intimately: “The Sixth Commandment was suspended for the duration of the tournament” (Patrick Irwin); “Described as ‘viciously competitive’, croquet is ideal for the Bishop’s Palace lawn” (John Saxbee); “Why is he smiling? Doesn’t he know it’s a ruthless game?” (William Petts); and ”The diocesan forensic team came to the conclusion that it was the bishop with the croquet mallet on the lawn” (John Radford).
Two entrants were inspired by the latest World Championships: “A tenner says he’ll swerve the yellow and go in off the red” (Peter Chapman); or maybe something a few decades earlier: “For those of you with a black-and-white set, the blue ball is behind the yellow”
of puns in recent competitions was more than compensated for this week: “They sang ‘Roquet of Ages’ followed by ‘All my hoop on Thee is founded’” (Richard Barnes); and, for the admirers of innuendo: “The somewhat painful episcopal pose clearly had an effect on the bishops’ balls, Agnes remarked to Fred” (Richard Strudwick).
A few more at random: “So if I hit the blue one the yellow one will move? Reminds me of placing clergy” (Sue Chick); “Playing cards and a flamingo mallet is more his style, thought Roger” (Vicky Lundberg); “The concept of Messy Church had yet to reach the hallowed turf of the Diocesan Croquet Club” and “The Bishop saw a choice between victory and permanent deprivation of Mrs Parkington-Smythe’s walnut cake. Some choices are not hard to make” (both Patrick Irwin).
We particularly enjoyed: “The Cathedrals Working Group prepared to dispatch another dean into the long grass” (Richard Barnes); “He had to go through a lot of hoops to become a bishop” (Janet Stockton, with an almost identical entry from Edward Mynors); “Nobody arranged a youth away-day quite like the Bishop” (George Frost); and “He was just about to discover that someone had removed his chair” (Alison Rollin).
Many thanks, once again, to Divine for supporting this competition with prizes of Fairtrade chocolate (divinechocolate.com). Two winners this week.