About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Week 3: Jamie Oliver Party

Week 3’s new thing: A Jamie Oliver Party. I have never been to a party of this kind before, not even a Tupperware party, and you’d think that was part of the proper training for clergy wives. How else are we expected to cope with the aftermath of a bring-and-share lunch? All these years I’ve been making do with clapped-out old icecream cartons. When we lived in Gateshead my childminder kept promising to invite me to her next Ann Summer’s party, but somehow she always forgot. Maybe the thought of the vicar’s wife in the same room as a crate of vibrators was too great a cognitive challenge.

So, Jamie at Home. Look at him in the photo in his casual shirt, offering us a bowl of penne with asparagus! The party was hosted by the precentor’s wife. My first disappointment was that Jamie himself was not there. This wasn’t quite made clear in the invitation. But second only to a nice man in a casual shirt offering us pasta, we like a group drool over some classy cookware, don’t we, ladies? Well, I do. I really like looking at nice cookware. But it turns out that I only like to do this in cookware shops and department stores, where I can look for a bit, and then go. I do not have the temperament for cookware parties. I have learnt this about myself. And a day on which you learn something new is a day not wasted.

It only takes someone asking me to wear a name badge for me to remember what a counter-suggestible old bag I can be. I have been to too many Christian conferences and church study days. Here is a little list of things (apart from wearing a name badge) that I don’t want to do:
  • Turn to the person next to me and share
  • Split up into small groups and share
  • Be the person who feeds back what our small group has shared
  • Write things on a flip chart
  • Brainstorm
  • Say the words of the grace with my eyes open, making eye contact with people
  • Engage in ice-breaking exercises

Happily, after the badge incident, I was only invited to engage in one of the above, the ice-breaker. This was a quiz about cheese. There were about 10 of us. We had to call out the answers. Naturally, we were all competitive, but polite, with the result that even when we knew we’d been first with the answer, we had to wait for someone else to say we’d been first. I daresay I wasn’t the only one who knew the prize was rightfully hers.

Then we had a short DVD clip. I think this is similar to the Alpha course format, only with Jamie, not Nicky Gumble. (I have never done an Alpha course, as I know I would end up having to kill someone, and important though Alpha probably is, it’s not worth a life sentence.) Then our Jamie consultant took us page by page through the 66 page catalogue. I fear this may be why I drank a bit too much of the precentor's wife's Alsace. There was some nice kit, but I don’t actually need anything else for my kitchen. O reason not the need! goes up the cry. Nothing I actually coveted enough to get my credit card out, then.

Or else I was too grumpy to covet. This can happen, believe it or not. Wrath always trumps greed in the 7 deadly sins league table. I am a very nice kind clergy wife, but I do have a ‘DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!’ button. In fact, the only time I have ever yelled at the chancellor (we don’t come from a plate-throwing background, either of us) it was that exact phrase. He was teaching me to drive at the time. After this I was taught by Colin, from the BSM, who made me cry once by demanding that I reversed round the same corner repeatedly until I mastered the skill. He then bought me a carton of orange to cheer me up and told me a dirty joke. This took him a long time, as he kept checking after every sentence that I wasn’t offended (he knew I was a clergy wife). I couldn’t even reassure him by saying, ‘Look, mate, I’m unshockable. I’ve been to an Ann Summer’s party.’


  1. I've never been to an Ann Summers party either, if it makes you feel any better. Even when I wasn't clergy...I obviously look as though I would be easily shocked. Mind you, I did once have to have a "nun" joke explained by the guys at the archery club...so perhaps I just dont understand these things?
    And as for husbands teaching wives driving skills...don't even go there.

  2. I am shocked by the very existence of Jamie Oliver parties, of which I knew not. This boy has become an industry and it seem ssomehow unwholesome. I mean, at least Ann Summers was not real...was she?

  3. I am just a simple parson's wife. I know nothing of Ann Summers.

  4. Did I really see you calling the parson simple?

  5. 'parson's-wife' is a compound noun. I was not implying that I'm the wife of a simple parson.