Wednesday, 30 July 2008

And about those lady Bishops

Perhaps this has something to do with it...

And don't aspire to the Episcopate, either!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


As in, doing the Lambeth Walk, dear reader. But no matter. I have today found evidence of the Archbishop of Canterbury's true opinions on the subject of (ahem) homosexual persons of the opposite persuasion. The following clip comes from his time as Mr Grifford Rees-Jones on the Nine O'Clock News, but I think we all recognise Rowan for what he really is...

Thursday, 24 July 2008

More sex please...

I would like to begin by thanking everyone who has thus far responded in affirmative tones to my new 'sex' campaign. Of course, I always suspected that a number of like-minded individuals with a penchant for the correct use of language might exist, but previous attempts to broach the subject had resulted merely in glazed expressions, even yawns on the faces of my listeners in Ye Olde Wisdom of Solomon, the choral-vicars' hostelry. There has been but one respondent failing to concur, so if the rest of you would oblige me for a moment...
Liz. Dear lady. The flaw in your argument centres, of course, on the word 'sex' which, when applied to one's biological nature, is of course perfectly clear but which, in another context, may also be correctly used as an abbreviation for the act of 'sexual intercourse' -which itself takes the word 'sex(ual)' to specify a form on interaction of an intimate nature, one not to be mistaken for any other form of intercourse - for example, social intercourse, oral intercourse or even musical intercourse (and I am NOT referring to Ravel's Bolero!). Gender, meanwhile, refers to the role either ascribed by or assumed within a particular society and conforming to its laws of sexual identity. Hence, boys in blue and girls in pink. It could so easily be the other way around, you know. I once knew a man who wore a dress. But he was the Archbishop, so it didn't matter. Thus gender as a term is wholly socially defined. Why not dress boys in pink (we do here)? And why shouldn't girls wear the trousers? These are gender roles, dear lady, and have nothing whatsoever to do with what is modestly preserved in the underwear department. I hope that clears things up.
Now, for the rest of you - here are your orders: we are henceforth on a seek and destroy mission. Whenever one encounters the dreaded 'g' word, you must strike it out at once! Do unto the abomination what St George did to the dragon. Put on the armour of self-righteousness - delete the impostor, and reinstate the 's' word in its place. Do this as often as you find it, in remembrance of linguistic accuracy. I will go before you; I will show you the way. I have myself in the last three days replaced the 'g' word on at least a dozen application forms. (I still await a response from Mr Asda.) Go to it, my people. Be as a light unto the gendered gentiles! And as St Dave Allen always finished, may your God go with you.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Well, now...

It seems I have an award. I have been nominated by someone called 'The Dotterel' who seems to find my blog amusing. I like to consider myself a well-bred sort of person, so I will accept this gift in the same spirit as it appears to have been offered, and do as required and nominate my own list of prize-winners. Here they are:
1. Rev'd Mad Priest, Clerk in Holy Orders
2. Kevin Musgrove Esq., Librarian
3. Sir Simon Monacle, Bart. Organist
4. Mr John France, Musicologist
7. Mr Lay-Clerk, er - lay-clerk
Well, that's the end of that, then!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Sex, sex, sex

For the first time in many years, I have today had cause to put pen to paper for the purposes of filling in an application form. It matters not what for. Suffice to say that my blogging enterprise has so far failed to resolve the problem of my monetary security (although it has proved curiously addictive) and I am therefore offering my services for the summer to a local retailing establishment. One has to live, dear reader. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the application form. Consider the following questions, if you will:
Name: no problems there, obviously (even after a rather heavy night on Old Precentor's Cassock-Lifter)
Address: again, I was equal to the challenge.
Date of birth: a slight impertinence, in my opinion, but no matter.
And then they did it. They had to do it, didn't they? And they did. They asked me for my...
Gender. There, I've said it - gender. Gender gender gender gender GENDER!
And I confess that I was flummoxed. And not only flummoxed, but annoyed. And not just mildly irritated, but filled with righteous indignation. Why, I hear you ask? What possible reason could there be for being exercised by such a simple question? What's Can Bass's problem?
Well, I'll tell you what my problem is. My problem is this - SEX. Sex is my problem. Yes, sex. Sex sex sex sex sex. What the johnnies at application-form HQ fail to realise when they sit around designing their insufferable little forms is that the answer they want to the question labelled gender isn't 'gender' at all. It's sex. They want to know my sex. They want to find out if I'm male or female, not whether I'm a man who wears a dress (I don't, by the way - a cassock doesn't count). They do not wish to find out if I am 'in touch' with my feminine nature (though, of course, I am); neither do they wish to know which team I 'bat' for, so-to-speak. They simply want to find out what combination of chromosomes I have inherited. Not whether I do body-building or embroidery, or whether I'm a rugger-bugger or a dilettante cricketer. So I rather fear that my answer to the question - masculine - might not be what they're looking for. No matter. I intend this very day to start a new campaign to re-instate sex as the identifier in such matters. Join today if you wish, like me, to reclaim your man or womanhood. What business is it of Mr Asda's whether I'm a hearty or an aesthete? Or of your employer's whether you satisfy your soul arranging flowers or else downing double-vodkas? It's not our gender that they want to know, dear reader. It's our sex. Let's give it to them. Down with 'gender' - and up with sex!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Why, oh why?

I've just attended evensong. No surprises there, I know. But I've attended as a member of the public, rather than the choir; as an observer, rather than as a participant; as a member of the congregation, required merely to mutter 'amen' periodically and join in (if I so wish) with the Office Hymn and the Apostles Creed. I know, I know. I do this for a living almost every day of the year. I should be glad of an opportunity to avoid the Dean and the Precentor for a while. But, well... I had to pay a visit to the vestry, just to leave a little billet-doux in Felicia's pigeon-hole, and whilst there I happened casually to glance at this week's music-list and saw 'Beati Quorum Via' as the introit (it's a Solemn) 'Walmisley in D minor' for the mag and nunc and Elgar's 'Spirit of the Lord' as anthem - all held together with a healthy dose of Kenneth Leighton's Preces and Responses. My musical antennae started twitching; my choral curiosity was aroused; I was interested, I must admit. I did just double-check to make absolutely sure that it wasn't one of the usual inadequate parish choirs that fill in periodically. But no, it was an ensemble with a perfectly sensible name (you should see what some choirs call themselves!) which I had better, in the circumstances, keep a secret. I should have known from the first note of the Stanford what I'd let myself in for. Suffice to say the introit started (just) in the original key, before migrating through several not-so-subtle but unanimous tonal shifts and thence splitting into two completely different keys which slapped against each other like two elderly all-in wrestlers on the erstwhile Saturday afternoon tv show World of Sport. ('Sport' indeed! I ask you - that was a trade descriptions violation, if ever there was one! And as for Dickie Davies's moustache...) The wreckage that was Kenneth Leighton's angular responses was actually something of a slight improvement, but why, oh why with just a couple of under-age baritones and an adolescent tenor or two would a choirmaster want to inflict the Walmisley in D minor on even the least musical of congregations? Suffice to say that far from being magnified, the opening sounded as if it were being viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. And when they started re-composing the Elgar... well I made my excuses, as they say. Please don't get me wrong, dear reader: I am no musical snob. I am as appreciative of other people's efforts as the next man, mostly. I do not blame the singers for yesterday afternoon's debacle, at least not personally. I welcome visiting choirs in our cathedral (it gives us plenty of days off). But why oh why do the people in charge of such an undertaking have to choose such ridiculously inappropriate music? It's like asking the local school recorder group to 'have a go' at Shostakovitch. Or teaching the kindergarten 'Otce Nas' instead of Old MacDonald. It looks good on the music list. That's the trouble - it looks too good. Maybe that's the reason that they do it? But I feel let down, rather, by the whole experience. And I haven't even heard back from Felicia.

Friday, 11 July 2008

All read out...

Ah, bliss. The summer holidays (I refuse categorically to refer to them as 'vacations'). Wine, women (God willing) but definitely not song. Why not? Has Can Bass lost his voice? Has his recent re-audition yielded the unhelpful result that his days as a salaried singer may be over? No, dear reader, no. Nothing untoward has happened. We have merely 'read' the choristers out of the cathedral and put the choir to sleep for the summer. It seemed the kindest thing to do in the circumstances. (Although if I had my way we wouldn't merely 'read' the little blighters out, we'd kick them out with the sharp end of the Precentor's winkle-pickers!) What this means, of course, is one last 'big' sing (and I mean big - Howell's Gloucester Service and Elgar's Give Unto The Lord!) and then a summer of roses and wine. Now, about those women! There are three at present in my life (not including the hordes of pelmet-skirted wannabees at the local Girls' School who have the privilege of my tutelage every Thursday morning) - Monica (65 if she's a day, and going for the Florence Foster-Jenkins singing trophy); Kayleigh or Kylie, or Carly or whatever she chooses to call herself this week (and, yes, she is still paying me for lessons) with whom I could not otherwise be prevailed upon for so much as a handshake and... Felicia, the server. Yes, Mr Sox, the quality of robed-totty is good, at least here in St Swithelburga's. Felicia is the most devine creature ever to be crucifer. She is not, of course, ordained (and nor should she be - no male Apostolic handling for her!) - she is a 'lay' worker, as we say - a volunteer. And oh, does she volunteer! As she leads the choir in the procession on a Sunday morning, her hands aloft, her hair cascading down her be-surpliced shoulders, she presents the choirboys with a veritable icon of shapely beauty, an image of slender pre-Raphaelite splendour. 'What do you think she wears beneath her cassock?' one boy whispered, recently. 'Nothing, hopefully' replied the other. And although I cuffed the little whippersnappers firmly round the ear, I must say I was rather taken with the image they provided.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

More monstrous regiments...

Of course, what many people fail to realise is that the Church of England Synod had already voted to ordain lady-bishops. Yesterday's vote in York merely confirmed the decision and laid down certain conditions for the ordination of distaff-side. And I, for one, find myself wholly in agreement with that decision. I must also express my heartfelt support for the Synod's decision to reject the absurdity of so-called 'super bishops' (male, obviously) who - if created - would have pandered to the whims of those opposed to the perfectly reasonable proposal to raise a qualified and experienced lady to the ranks of the episcopate. Good Lord, we have enough problems already, what with flying bishops, suffragan bishops, assistant bishops, new bishops, old bishops, bishops with a seat in the House of Lords and bishops without so much as a stool in the House of Fraser. I realise that I am in a minority here in the cathedral choir; dear Lord above, we have our own battles looming with the female of the species in the form of a soon-to-be created girls' choir. But my own misgivings on the subject of lady vicars were allayed some years ago by sight of the lovely Lucy Winkett of St Paul's Cathedral sobbing gently at the flagrant misogyny of a fellow Canon. Which among us - without being possessed of a heart of stone - could fail to be moved by such a sight? Who could be blind to the attraction of having one so young and beautiful attending to one's sacerdotal ministrations? And who could possibly resist the temptation to let one's mind wander, just a little, whilst gazing up as the dear young ladies mount the pulpit to deliver their Sunday sermons? Not me, that's for sure! I just hope the rest of them are as good-looking.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


So, the Joseph Rowntree-MacIntosh foundation has decreed that a salary of less than £13,000 per annum is what constitutes poverty in an advanced industrial economy. Poppycock! Balderdash! I mean, just look at some of the things 'they' claim one needs to stay alive, for heaven's sake: a moving television screen; digital wireless sets; mobile telephones; dvds (whatever they are). No mention of books, I see. Or pianofortes! Dear Lord above, one wonders sometimes how the other half lives. And what they spend their thirteen grand a year on! The Church, of course, is not known for its largesse; we choral vicars draw a basic salary of slightly less than half the sum that Mr Joseph Rowntree has declared to be the minimum necessary to keep oneself above the poverty-line. I have neither plasma wide screen television set, nor digi-radio appliance; as for the confounded nuisance that is mobile telephones - well, don't get me started! Why, only the other day a telephone rang in the middle of the Subdean's sermon. The entire cathedral chapter started fumbling in their cassock pockets, but to no avail. Eventually, the rather red-faced preacher realised that the noise was emanating from his pulpit. The Subdean took the offending article from his pocket, studied it briefly and proceeded to wind up his sermon in record time. Mrs Subdean, apparently, was sitting in the congregation listening (listening!?) and had texted him to tell him that his dinner would be on the table in precisely fifteen minutes.