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, 22 August 2012

50 SHADES OF PURPLE: Chapter 2

Ee, double blimey!  I make my way along the plush corridor, staying in the present tense to give my narrative an air of breathless spontaneity, and wishing like mad I'd done a bit more basic research into this powerful archbishop of the entire Northern Hemisphere.  All I know is that since the re-structuring of the Anglican Communion Worldwide, archbishop Pagan Purple has become the most powerful churchman globally, unless you count the Pope of Rome.

I bet even the Pope of Rome doesn't have corridors this long, I quip inwardly to keep my courage up.  The suede-clad blond chaplain--I assume he's a chaplain of some sort-- continues to incline his head, waiting for me as I stumble clumsily towards the door he's holding open.  

The door to Archbishop Pagan Purple himself's private study.

Triple hecky thump!  My brain simply can't take in the fact that I, an ignorant young cub reporter from The Church of England Times and lay reader from Yorkshire with unruly hair and a crumpled blue cassock, can be going to interview Pagan Purple!  My heart pounds.  My knees are trembling.  What is it about the idea of him that gives me the willies?  I'm not normally like this.  Why am I even doing this?  I'm much more at home curled up with a Tom Wright For Everyone volume!

'Go right in,' says the chaplain chap.  'His Grace is expecting you.'

'Thanks,' I croak.  Then I clear my throat and say 'Thanks!' in what's meant to be a business-like tone.  Like I'm always interviewing important bishops. Although I'm not. I'm just a trainee. From Yorkshire.  I bundle my unruly hair away from my face, take a deep breath.  If only my eyes weren't so large and blue with such ridiculously long lashes, much too large and lashy for my face! I think irrelevantly.  I take another deep breath and step into the room.

Only I don't step.  I trip on the ultra-ultra deep shag-pile violet carpet and go headlong.  I cartwheel into a heap in front of a vast antique rose-wood veneer desk in the Louis Quatorze style with rather attractive knobs on, like one I'd seen only a week earlier in Period Homes.

Quadruple HECK!  Now I feel like an utter wazzock, with my cassock hiked up and carpet burn on my face.  

Then I feel gentle yet strangely firm hands helping me up with long sensitive fore-fingers.  I push back my unruly hair.

And find myself looking into the violet-tinged and oddly arresting eyes of a man.  They burn into me.  I feel weird.  An electric tingle buzzes through me.  What is causing this strange current between us?  No way is that carpet nylon, so it must be coming from him.  He's a young man, I suddenly notice with an inward quiver.  Hecky me, he can only be about 26.  That's 5 years older than me, I swiftly calculate.

This can't be Pagan Purple.  It can't!  
Or can it?

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Oh heck and crikey.  I'm only simple Yorkshire lay reader and cub reporter for the Church of England Times and yet here I am, about to interview the Archbishop of the Northern Hemisphere, Pagan Purple, in his sumptuous palace!  

Flippin' heck, I think, as the lilac limo sweeps me in though the grand wrought iron gates.  We pass through acres of deer park until we come to a bridge over a moat, where swans glide serenely. You've gone and done it this time, lass.  I clutch the ever so nice mauve suede seats as the chauffeur (an attractive young blond  chap) in his peaked violet chauffeur's cap, swings round a final corner and parks the Bentley in front of the poshest place I've ever seen. It looks like something out of House Beautiful

I get out of the car, knees trembling, suddenly worried that my blue lay reader's robes look shabby in the context of this overwhelmingly cool and wealthy ambience.  I grip my Sainsbury's bag-for-life containing my dictaphone and list of questions the editor has primed me with. I should have borrowed the curate's hand-tooled leather robes carry-case from Wippell's of London, with its gold detailing.  And I should have Googled the archbishop, I realise.  How old is Pagan Purple?  I assume he's really old, in his 60s with untamed wild eyebrows like every other bishop in the church.  

I mount the steps, my wild wayward curls framing my elphin yet somehow saucy face.  Well, Analgesia Boron, I say to myself, let's get it over with.  I ring the bell.  Another extremely good-looking young blond chap answers the door.  He's wearing a fine suede cassock of a divine heather hue.  Like Ilkley moor in August, I think irrelevantly. 

'Good morning, my name's Analgesia Boron, here to interview the Right Reverend Pagan Purple.  From the Church of England Times,' I add.

'Wait here,' he says, and goes off down the long corridor with its acres of purple carpet.  He trails some lovely expensive-smelling aftershave after him as his bespoke shoes sink into the carpet.  That's top quality Axminster, that is, sixty quid a square metre, or I'm a monkey's uncle, I think.  Where does Pagan get his money from, I wonder.  The source of his unbelievable wealth is shrouded in mystery.  It is one of the things I'm here to ask him about.

Hot criminy and hecky damn, it's all so swanky!  I'm just an insignificant little Yorkshire trainee reporter.  I'm here to interview Pagan Purple, for heck's flipping sake.  I don't even look the part!  I start to wish I'd borrowed the curate's hand-tailored black double breasted cassock with the princess seams.

But at that moment the door at the end of the long Jacobean oak-pannelled corridor opens and the chap in the heather leather cassock re-appears and beckons me with an inclination of his sleek blond head.  I stumble a bit on the ultra-deep pile carpet and head towards the distant door.  All along the walls I see short leather crosiers.  What on earth can they be for, I wonder?


Monday, 13 August 2012

What to Wear in Kavos

We have just come back from a fortnight in Corfu, the dean designate and I.  As you will be aware, packing for a beach holiday is a steep challenge, especially if it has been raining solidly for three months, and you no longer really believe in the concept of hot weather.  Then there is the tension between travelling light and still giving yourself a choice of clothes. And worst of all, the need to pack glamorous things that will get you through the 'Why do you walk through the field in gloves?' stage of the holiday ('O fat white woman whom nobody loves.')

When we arrived at the first place we'd chosen to stay, we suddenly understood our sons' hilarity when we'd told them we were going to Kavos.  The owners of the hotel took one look at us and clearly thought 'Uh-oh, they have no idea.'  They sent for the neighbours who led us away from the bar and the pool, where the 20 somethings lay drinking cocktails and reading Fifty Shades of Grey in a welter of sun tan oil and lust, to a nice quiet studio apartment with this view from the terrace:

You see?  Nothing 18-30 Club about it at all.  We wandered in to the seething hub of Kavos that evening and I can report on what to wear.  A bikini, a pair of micro pastel shorts with your bum cheeks hanging out, or perhaps a crocheted halter neck top, or indeed crocheted pants.  Tans are compulsory, or failing that, sunburn so severe that if you got that way by falling into a scalding bath you'd take yourself straight up to A & E.  The old grey-edged Copydex glue peel-away sunburn is on trend this season.  You might like to accessorise with an alcohol-inspired tattoo (we met a nice young man with parrots on his bottom), along with some kind of body piercing which seems to you like an excellent idea at 5.30am, when you might also be amused by one of the cheeky T-shirts on sale ('I'm in Kavos, bitch', 'Let's get fucking mortal in Kavos').

But really, by the time you are 50 the moment for cheeky shorts and impulsive tattoos has long gone.  Instead I opted for 50s glamour: a huge straw hat, a big pair of sunglasses, a sarong, and the only one piece swimming costume in a 20 mile radius.  Not forgetting sun factor 40 sun tan lotion.  The effect may have led the youngsters to stare and wonder, 'What's wrong with that poor woman? Does she have leprosy?'  But I'm playing the long game.  If you want lovely skin, follow these three simple rules: Don't smoke, stay out of the sun, and choose your genes carefully.