Today I'm wearing my preaching outfit. This is a bit of a headache if you are not ordained. If you are ordained, you can just roll up your pyjama legs, pull on a cassock, and you're good to go. But what should you wear in the pulpit if you are naught but an humble lay person?
Obviously, this will depend to some extent where the pulpit is. If it's in a grand cathedral, an Oxbridge College, or a distinguished public school like, say Uppingham (to pluck an example at random), you can opt to go down the academic kit route: gown and bunny fur/silk hood. In a way I'm a bit tempted by this, as I get to wear Ooh, Get Me! red doctoral robes like the scarlet whore of Babylon. I believe I'm also entitled to wear one of those daft Shakespearian bit part squishy hats, the kind you'd team with hose and codpiece to declaim, 'Madam, I go with all convenient speed!' But all this is irrelevant. I've never got round to buying myself the gear, and now I can't. And in any case, I don't do enough academic poncing about to justify the expense.
Which brings us back to today's clothing dilemma. Another obvious choice is a smart suit. I do own a couple of smart suits, actually, but they are now fatally tainted with the stain of job interview failure. We all have lucky clothes in our wardrobe, those magical garments that we rely on to make us feel like a million dollars. Let's call them our 'Cat's Pyjamas.' But we also have unlucky garments. Garments that give you flashbacks to the vapid inanity you heard yourself blurt when asked, 'So, how would you see yourself developing this role in order to deliver the requisite outcomes outlined in our Going for Excellence mission statement?' These we will call our 'Pig's Ear' garments. My smart suits are Pig's Ears, not Cat's Pyjamas, I'm sorry to say. Even though they fit nicely, suit me, and I actually had them dry-cleaned after I'd got them from the charity shop.
Instead I opted, broadly speaking, for the outfit I bought for my last trip to London to see my agent, a year ago now. It will have the dread ring of familiarity to it: black boots, black treggings, knee-length jumper-dress in grey, with epaulette details (H & M sale) worn with a broad black leather belt, my black and cream chunky-funky plastic necklace (cause of so many soup calamities) and that flappy black long cardigan which I earlier, and perhaps entirely erroneously, described as 'ballerina style'. A riot of black and grey! How supremely Anglican.
One final word of fashion advice. There is no point wearing a long skirt if you need to mount pulpit steps. Anyone who has ever attempted this in a cassock will tell you why: it's fatally easy to climb up inside your skirt, and end up with your nose on the top step. Not a good posture with which to impress 700 bored teenagers.
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.