“Worst Job in the Church of England” advertised – again

Dirty-harry-2“Dirty Harry” Vicar seeks a partner

The post of Associate Minister in the Parish of Clitheroe, Low Moor, Chatburn and Downham has attracted very little interest with only a handful of candidates applying. Is the vicar the problem?

Self-confessed “Dirty Harry” fan Revd Andy Froud believes that it could be.


Clitheroe consistently features in the top ten most desirable places to live in the UK due to its excellent schools, lovely scenery and good transport links to Manchester and Leeds. The house provided with the post of Associate Minister is a modern four-bedroomed property with a pleasant garden.


But notoriously the character played by Clint Eastwood cannot find a partner – or at least one that doesn’t end up dead or in hospital. “I’m told that it has always been difficult to recruit clergy for the North as they prefer ministry in the Home Counties, ” said Revd Froud “If any of these snowflakes can summon up the courage to pass the Watford gap they might find that most people up here are welcoming, friendly and supportive. Present company excepted.”


Revd Froud is a self-confessed disorganised workaholic with a low tolerance for those who he considers “idle”.  Anyone working with him, he believes, would need the “patience of a saint”. This is the third time the post has been advertised and the question he is asking himself is “am I feeling lucky?” Anyone interested in the post should contact him on andyfroud@gmail.com

A proud Yorkshireman, he also considers the problem could be that the job is in Lancashire.


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D Day 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters, June 6th marks the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landings. A few days after the landings a German officer encountered a US supply depot, really just a pile of stuff nearly a mile long. He told his driver the war was lost. The driver asked why, and he said, in effect, […]

via D Day 2017 — revcycling

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“Terrifying” Nativity Play slammed by Angry Mums

Herod doesn’t feature too much in today’s rather saccharine nativity plays. It’s not because his part in the birth narratives isn’t commemorated in the church until Holy Innocents Day (28 December in the Church of England) After all, schools and play groups performances are stuffed full of wise men (not til Epiphany on January 6th according to the liturgical purists). No, the figure of Herod has more or less consciously been photoshopped out of the picture.

Naturally in today’s cotton-wool culture we don’t want our school splashed over the internet (“Terrifying Nativity Slammed by Angry Mums”) Not like the Middle Ages Mystery Plays where Herod was booed and heckled like a pantomime villain and blood splashed the spectators.

According to St Matthew, when Herod discovers from the Wise Men that a king is to be born “he is afraid and all of Jerusalem with him”. It’s unsurprising that everyone would be afraid, since Herod dealt ruthlessly with all potential threats to his throne, killing his wife and two sons among many others. On this occasion, when he discovers the Wise Men have lived up to their name and not revealed the birthplace of the Messiah, Herod orders the killing of all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two. Some modern scholars have questioned the veracity of Matthew’s account which seems too conveniently to parallel Moses’ escape from Pharaoh’s massacre and which goes unreported by Herod’s early non-Christian but decidedly hostile biographers. Others explain that silence by pointing out that given the population of Bethlehem at the time the number of male children killed may have been “only” 20 or so. Hardly worth a mention in the general unpleasantness of first century Palestine. But there are some Biblical scholars who also question the historic value of pretty well every other part of the nativity story: no, there is another reason why Herod doesn’t the cast list.

Herod represents oppressive State power. He stands for the naked power which the Christ child subverts and overcomes. In the Mystery Plays of the Middle Ages, he represents the unjust tyrant the people know all too well. Ironically my internet provider now has to keep a record of my internet search history till next December (Drone Strike Casualties for example).  And it is just possible that you have made a government watch list just by reading this blog: I think part of me secretly hopes so.

I sat in the comfort of my living room in front of a festive log fire and I watched the good news that British armaments will once again be under the Saudi Royal Family’s Christmas tree again, the better to fight their war in Yemen. I wondered what would Herod have done today. Call in a drone strike? Just the same as any of our leaders today, trying to “neutralize a potential threat”. In terms of modern “collateral damage” only 20 innocent casualties wouldn’t make the headlines today either.

The next nativity you watch, with it’s halting lines,  tripping angels and wandering donkeys, spare a thought for Herod. Perhaps we can’t bear to have Herod on the stage because he represents the secret of who we really have become.

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The Miracle of Strava


I love Strava. What I love most is that I can’t cheat it. My watch tells me how far, how fast and where I’ve run and it tells the internet. Any sneaky walks will show up. Now I have really had to plan and work hard on my running to achieve my target of a 2,500 metre run climb over a month. (Nearly there!) So when I look at the other people taking the challenge and see the results for the other thousands of people (53,346), many of whom are fitter than me I am impressed.

But I’m more than impressed by you, Matthias Schelkens. You have clocked an elevation in November of over 100,000 metres.  That’s over 10 Everests. Or the generally accepted beginning of space. You’ve run the equivalent of “to space” in less than a month Matthias! Way to go! And in only 9 runs. In fact in the last week you’ve run 24.km and climbed 27,677 metres. That’s more than a 1 in 1 incline (I’m assuming you haven’t included the downhill bit in which case it would be even steeper). I salute you, half human, half mountain goat!

Give us a wave next time you’re up that mountain!




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You say Honey – I say fix!

She had tears in her eyes, but they were tears not of sorrow but defiance and anger. She managed to keep to the script that she had been given as the evening’s host put his arm around her, not so much to console but direct her. The other contestants were “awesome” and it had been an “amazing journey”. But in her eyes you could see she was telling us: this is wrong, this is a sham,

And so I stood in front of the TV with three fingers held in the air, partly in respect for Giftey, partly in response to the two fingered salute which the X Factor producers had given the nation.

Given the choice between someone who had genuine talent and an amazing voice Sharon Osborne chose to send Giftey home and keep a teenage group of interchangeable clones, who even the keenest eyed would fail to identify in a police line-up. Sharon, whose other job is gate announcer in the departure lounge for Hell, was only sticking to the script though.

Having pulled off one major outrage the soulless minons of the Dark Lord Cowell then spun the wheel to decide the theme for next week: what would it be? The wheel spun and settled eventually on – no, really? “Girl vs Boy Group”. What are the chances of that? How fortunate that there is a girl group still in the contest. Not since someone bought a job lot of Union flags just before the last Scottish Independence vote has anyone been so lucky.

Sensing the anger of the studio audience and indeed the nation, Simon did his best to deflect attention from the injustice that had just been done. “I blame myself” he said “It was the wrong song”. Half right Simon – it is your fault, it wasn’t the song. As totalitarian dictatorships throughout history have found, the best way to hide the truth is to wrap it in a lie. Gamely Simon, who normally displays all the emotions from smug to unbearably smug tried to look and sound, well, sad. I think it was meant to be sad.

Many people have written the X Factor off before – surely this is too much, too obviously manipulative. It’s been said before but clearly there are new depths that even the sponsors of Honey G have not yet imagined. I know what I think – it’s Halloween, get me my pitchfork and torch, let’s head off to Castle Cowell.

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I want my country to be like Bake Off – not the Apprentice

Which one are you? This week marks a change in the BBC schedule – goodbye Mary, hello Sir Alan. But more than that I wonder whether it marks an ideological divide in our country. The Sun predictably complained about the victory of Nadiya Hussein, a Muslim woman from Luton as a victory of political correctness. If they are right then perhaps Samantha Cameron, who we are assured keeps an eye on the cultural scene for her husband, needs to have a word in his ear.

Because the Bake Off is huge: almost 11 million watched the semi-final and many more will have watched the final, more than twice the number who would have watched the highlights of Mr Cameron’s conference speech on the News at 10.

The Guardian review pointed to a deeper difference between Bake Off and the post-watershed Apprentice: “nice is the new nasty”.  Many commentators have pointed out that the competition, such as it is in the Bake Off, is gentle, supportive and civil. This may be because the people involved care more about the baking than the competition; it may be the skill of the hosts, Mel and Sue, or the gentle encouragement of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood;  it certainly bears witness to the skills of the TV producers, the happily named Love Production. Most of all, the clue is in the title – The Great British Bake Off. We like to think that no other country in the world could make and appreciate this show. The Britain’s Got Talent format has been exported all around the world: The Great French Bake Off? Probably the most successful version: but the French “Mary Berry” said that her visit to the British set made her “physically ill”. Not very nice.

I, for one, hope that Bake Off is the future (even though I personally find it dull as the dishwater and only hear about it from my family). I look forward to the hubris, schadenfreude and (damn, run out of foreign words) sheer comedy of The Apprentice. But just because I enjoy the spectacle of The Apprentice doesn’t means I want to live it: it is escapist drama for me. Even I have to admit that The Apprentice is looking increasingly tired. I still long for Margaret’s World-Class Eye-Rolling (“look out, Margaret, the wind will change!”). But the show increasingly looks like something out of the 1990s or even the 80s. No number of of female, disabled or minority contestants will change the fundamental social darwinist dynamic of the show.

But this is the truly scary thought: maybe people like The Bake Off because it is not like their real lives. Maybe Bake Off has become for many people the new escapism. The Apprentice is how they live: the Bake Off is how they would like to live. I was speaking to a supermarket checkout operator last night who was telling me about the level of abuse they had suffered this week as a result of the 5p charge for carrier bags. Supermarkets should stock the selfie sticks next to the checkout just so their customers can take a good, hard look at themselves.

Neither of them are real life : as someone one remarked, the least real thing on TV is reality TV. But I hope that people will take away from the Bake Off more than just hints about how to keep their pastry light. I hope that the qualities which Bake Off embodies, gentle humour, humility, inclusiveness, support and love may be the ones which dominate our British public life.

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