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May 2018


On church towers, rock cakes, scaffolding and the merits of confirming bats

My dear Nephew Darren

We are finally about to start repairing our medieval church tower. Would that we still paid medieval prices for having it done; there would be a degree of satisfaction in giving the builders a hogshead of ale and 10 sheep once the work was completed. I would even be prepared to throw in an Indulgence, sparing them 100 days in purgatory (the architect probably claiming 15% of them for himself).

After several endless jumble sales, coffee mornings – where we were obliged to eat Mrs Jarvis’s rock cakes (many of us would have been happier to make a substantial donation to the fund provided we didn’t have to eat them) – sponsored events (Mr Peat has yet to return, five years late, from his sponsored cycle ride across the Sahara – but fortunately, we had his sponsor money collected before he departed) and a substantial loan from the bank that makes the National Debt seem trivial (and has the same probability of being repaid), we are now able to begin. The only sponsored event I regretted not having was paying to have Lady Trotter remain silent for a month. Even sponsoring her to keep quiet for half an hour would have been pleasant.

We received a substantial donation from a local manufacturer. It was suggested that as a sign of appreciation we advertise their products from the top of the tower – until it was gently pointed out that they produce nuclear warheads. I would have had no objection; knowing that council members possessed tactical nuclear weapons would make discussion at meetings rather brisker.

Scaffolding has now been erected around the tower, with the first 20 feet covered in sheet metal in order to stop the Young Farmers, after refreshing themselves at their Tuesday meetings in the pub, from trying to see who could be the first to reach the top. Personally, I suspect it is to stop the more athletic members of the Ladies’ Guild from attempting the same feat. 80-year-olds these days can have fearsome energy and determination.

Fulfilling current safety regulations, there is now a security cordon around the tower of approximately 10 square miles. “Lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone”? These days, a dashed foot would involve court proceedings and damages of several million pounds.

Inside the church, the organ has had to be covered in polythene sheeting in order to protect it. Parish relations were somewhat strained last week when our deputy organist, Mrs French, while playing for Evensong, overheard me refer to the large bag on the organ and got quite the wrong impression.

The greatest inconvenience will be caused to our population of bats, but if it dissuades them from flying into church so much the better. The only other possibility is to get them all confirmed; we will then never see them inside church again.

Your loving uncle,



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