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.

Saturday 29 September 2012


Hecky blimey O'Reilly times seven!

Now we're in trouble, I tell myself.  Here I am trying to write the next chapter and my flippin Kindle's downstairs!  Now how am I going to convince the reader that this is genuine, if I can't crib off the original?  Plus I've nearly got to the end of the free sample.  If it carries on like this, I'm going to have to make stuff up!

But here goes, Analgesia Boron, I tell myself.  Yorkshire lay readers are made of stern stuff.  It will take more than this to throw me off my stride!

Suddenly I realise that Pagan Purple's mauve eyes have been boring into me since September the 10th!  No wonder I'm weak at the knees with electric currents throbbing deep in my mysterious belly parts.  Giving myself a brisk mental slap, I lead him to the rope aisle.  

'Here you are, Archbishop Purple,' I say, in what I hope is a nonchalant tone.

'You are most kind, Miss Boron,' he replies, another privy smile lurking on his sculpted lips.  In the background I catch sight of another oddball.  He seems to be wearing a cassock trimmed with squirrel fur.  Some desperate lay clerk from Liverpool, I expect.  Poor fellow.

Pagan Purple begins to finger a length of rope knowledgeably with his long forefingers.  'Do you have anything more...' he hesitates, eyeing me lingeringly '...more silken, perhaps?'

'Silken?' I blurt.  Holy Pontefract cakes!  What is it about this man that makes me blush and blurt like this?

'No matter,' he says.  'I'll take three metres of this, please, Miss Boron.  I'm sure it will prove more than... adequate... for my purposes.'

And what purposes might those be? I want to ask, but daren't.  

'Doing some DIY, are you, Archbishop?' I ask inanely instead.

'Oh yes, Miss Boron.  I will be doing it myself.  I like to be in control.'  Once again his hand strays to his WWJD riding crop, in case the reader hasn't been concentrating.

Then we walk back to the till, he pays, and I put the goods in a carrier bag peremptorily, because I can't be fagged to dramatise everything in this narrative.

'Au revoir, Miss Boron,' he says Frenchly. 

'Tarra,' I reply commonly.  

A moment later, I hear the sound of his lilac helicopter taking off.  Once more my heart pounds.  Where is all this heading? I wonder.  I ponder the problem until I've tied myself in knots...


Sunday 16 September 2012

What to Wear to an Installation

What to wear to an installation?  Clearly a lot will depend on what kind of installation you are attending.  If you are plumbing in a new gas appliance then overalls and steel toe-cap boots would be appropriate.  If, on the other hand, your husband is about to be installed as Dean of Liverpool, then that would be an eccentric sartorial choice.

With this in mind, I surveyed my wardrobe, which as you know has not been added to during 2012.  Or not by me.  Kind friends have given me the occasional garment, and for this I am very grateful.  It was one such gift that I chose to wear yesterday afternoon.  But first the anguish, the tears.  You need to hear about them.  (And I apologise to anyone who has visited this blog to find out what the archbishop was up to in the rope aisle of Laird's DIY, we will get back to him in due course.)

Back in the dying days of December I cunningly purchased a very smart silk wrap-over dress, just in case I ever had occasion to wear it.  All through the long months of clothing boredom I have resisted wearing this dress.  But then alas, a couple of weeks ago I tried it on and consulted a trusted adviser who was visiting from Australia (not for that sole purpose, admittedly) and she decreed that it was very nice, but not dramatic enough for the occasion.  Liverpool cathedral is the largest Anglican cathedral in the galaxy.  Subtle and understated just doesn't wash.  Why, the new dean himself had to get a brand new russet cassock!  And no girl of spirit likes to be upstaged by a mere cleric.

So on the advice of my Australian consultant I wore the fabulous coat dress I wore on Easter day (see left).  I teamed it with my black body con dress, a pair of black Jasper Conran tights (rather snagged, but people should have been concentrating on the prayers not my legs) and some stupid black shoes which required  me to take a couple of Ibuprofen at the end of the day.  I did not wear a hat.  There's no point spending a fortune on a haircut and then wearing a hat.  Besides, it was windy.  I would have been snatched up like Mary Poppins and assumed into heaven.

Well, it was a lovely day.  Mr Dean (clerk in holy orders, right trusty and well-beloved of the queen--you've got to love those Letters Patent) is the 7th Dean of Liverpool, which means he has special powers, rather like the 7th son of a 7th son.  He can levitate and bi-locate, and cause the bells to ring by thought power alone.  He has many rights and appurtenances too.  We don't know what they are, but we will be insisting upon them.

Monday 10 September 2012


Holy Trinity!

What the heck is he doing here, looking all outdoorsy in his tight jodhpurs, his tousled hair and his chunky  cream cable knit sweater lovingly handcrafted by nuns in the Outer Hebrides, an open-necked mauve shirt in a silk-cotton blend from Liberty's of London showing his toned chest where his pectoral cross glints.  I can't help noticing the beautifully tooled leather WWJD riding crop stuck arrogantly through his belt.

'Archbishop Purple,' I whisper, unable to locate my voice.

'Miss Boron.'

Why do we always address one another so formally?  Is it because it's sexy? I find myself wondering.  That can't be right, because I know I'm not sexy, I'm just a simple Yorkshire lay reader with eyes too big for my stomach.

A ghost of a smile plays on his lips and his eyes are alight with some private joke to which I am not privy.

'I was in the area,' he explains.  'I needed to stock up on a range of suggestively raunchy items of hardware to whet your curiosity and flag up my proclivities to the reader.'  His voice is husky and warm like a great big hot melting oozing chocolate fondue laced with Vino Sacro.

I am blushing furiously for some ridiculous reason I cannot fathom under his steady mauve scrutiny.  Then all at once I remember my promise to besmirch people.  At that very moment I catch sight of the tragic defrocked Scottish priest, lurking at the end of the aisle.  Quite what he sees in this young astonishingly good-looking wealthy archbishop, I cannot say, but he flounces his clerical kilt and simpers at Pagan Purple.

I summon my cognitive functions.  'What can I help you with, Archbishop Purple?'

He smiles again, secretly, like he still has a private secret I'm not privy to.  It is so disconcerting.  A queue is forming behind him.  It seems to consist of star-struck clergy for some reason.  How did they all know the archbishop is in the area buying suggestive hardware?  One has driven all the way from Luton and he's wearing tight purple flares in homage to his hero.  Behind him stands a woman priest who looks like a stick man with a halo.  She sighs adoringly as Pagan Purple drums his long fore-fingers on the counter.

'I need some cable ties,' murmurs the archbishop chocolately.

Cable ties?

'Aisle 4,' I blurt, because it's been a while since I blurted anything.  'I'll show you.'  I set off for Aisle 4, nearly tripping over a very small tandem-rider who was lurking right by my ankles.

Get a grip, Analgesia Boron! 

I stumble clumsily past the garden ornaments, and see in passing that one statue looks like my sister Kate, who I've always been jealous of because her eyes are so small and dainty.  That would look nice with old fashioned roses trained over it, that would, I think irrelevantly.  

Purple gazes lingeringly at the cable ties.  What on earth is he going to do with those?  He smiles his oh-so-secret smile, and fingers his riding crop with his long fingers to tip off the inattentive reader as to the tendency of this novel.

'This will do nicely,' he says, selecting a pack, which I don't describe, not having a clear idea what cable ties  actually are.  'And now some masking tape,' he says.  

For some inexplicable reason, I fail to understand why he is looking at me like that.  I lead him to the masking tape and our fingers brush.  Hot buttered criminy times twenty!  A current zaps through my deep unexplored regions which I decide to call my belly, because I'm a lay reader from Yorkshire.


Friday 7 September 2012


Ee, criminy hecky parkin to the power of 5! I think in italics when I am finally safe back home in my modest one bedroomed flat at the top of Ilkley-under-Wallop rectory.

No man has ever affected me the way Pagan Purple has, and I cannot fathom why.  Is it his indescribable good looks?  His immense wealth?  His phenomenal cosmic power throughout the entire northern hemisphere?  I simply cannot understand my irrational attraction to this handsome powerful young multi-millionaire.  

And he is so arrogant!  Such a control freak.  An involuntary shiver runs down my spine.  I think back cringingly to the interview.  I remember all my silly blurting, my clumsiness, my blue eyes which are too big for my face.  But pushing all this from my mind I type up my notes and file my copy for the Church of England Times.  I do this rapidly so as not to bog the reader down in reality, and because frankly I cannot be arsed to describe it.

Next I go off to work at my part time job in a local DIY store, where I know I will be safe from Pagan Purple and his long forefingers and penetrating mauve gaze.  My guts fizzle like ice and fire involuntarily at the thought.

What is it about that man which affects me like this?

When I arrive, Mrs Laird, the store owner, greets me.  She is a bit of a slapper, but I always feel relaxed in her company.  I know she doesn't judge me for my big blue eyes and clumsiness.  She sends me to aisle 7, and soon I'm happy as Larry stocking shelves.  I quickly hide behind a tarpaulin when the Poet Priest in Residence wanders past.  The Rev Ian Duhig is a bit of a weirdo, always opening his cassock to show the ladies his limericks. I know he means no harm, but he makes me a bit uncomfortable.  

Then I pause and eat a sandwich, wondering who else to libel in this episode.  I glance at the garden ornaments aisle and spot a metal vicar.  That'll never catch on, I think.  That'll rust in the rain, that will.  

Mrs Laird appears and asks me to serve on the till.  I obey, tripping over a few items as I go just to keep my clumsiness skills honed in case I meet another handsome multi-millionaire archbishop.  Sometimes I think there's something wrong with me.  I must be missing the boyfriend gene.  I've never felt physically attracted to anyone.  I spend all my time reading Victorian novels and the complete works of Tom Wright.  Nobody has ever made me feel weak at the knees, heart in my mouth, butterflies in my stomach-y.

Until very recently, whispers the small unwelcome voice of my conscience.  Well, at least I won't run into him in the Ilkley-under-Wallop branch of Laird's DIY, I console myself.

Then I look up... and find myself locked in the bold lilac-tinged gaze of Pagan Purple himself, who's standing at the counter staring at me with his bold lilac-tinged eyes.

Heart failure.

'Miss Boron.  What a pleasant surprise.'


Monday 3 September 2012


Double hecky parkin!  This really IS Pagan Purple!

I'm blushing as red as a Series Three service booklet.  He smiles.  

'Miss Boron.'  He extends a long-fingered hand to me.  Cripes, he'd be a cracking spin bowler, I think irrelevantly.  'I'm Pagan Purple.  Are you all right?'

I dust off my crumpled blue cassock and get to my feet.  'I'm fine thanks,' I blurt.

Holy matrimony! 

So young.  So young and attractive.  I can't help myself, I break out into italics!  

He's tall, too, in his grey Cerruti suit with a subtle pale lilac stripe, and his unruly copper-coloured hair that ought to clash with his beautifully tailored pure cotton lawn magenta shirt made by the Vatican outfitters in Rome itself, but somehow doesn't.  His 22 carat gold pectoral cross with its cabochon amethyst surrounded by Tiffany solitaire diamonds glints in an understated and somehow upper class way, reminding me I am just a simple Yorkshire lay reader.

'Have a seat,' he says, and gestures with his long fingers to an L-shaped white leather and chrome pew lavishly upholstered in deep plush velvet the colour of African violets. 

Triple buttered pikelets!  Nobody should be this good-looking!

I sit.  His intense bright grey yet strangely lilac-tinted eyes bore into mine shrewdly.  I find my voice.  'Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Archbishop Purple.'

'You're welcome, Miss Boron.'

His study is way to big for one man, even if he is the archbishop of the entire northern hemisphere.  I glance out of the vast window with its panoramic view across the private deerpark and the City of London skyline in the background.

Then I reach into my Sainsbury's Bag-for-life and get out my ancient dictaphone, blushing for some reason.  I put it on the genuine Renaissance  Spanish marquetry coffee table and knock it over a few times in my clumsy yet endearing way, blushing as red as the piping on a canonical cassock.  

Finally, sensing that the reader is getting bored with all this pissing about, I tuck a lock of my unruly hair behind my ear and start the interview: 'Archbishop Pagan Purple, you are very young to have risen to this position of phenomenal cosmic power within the Anglican Communion.  To what do you owe your success?'

His smile is rueful.  'The church is about people, Miss Boron.  I'm good at judging people.  I know what makes them tick and how to incentivize them.  I employ exceptional priests, and I deploy them well.  And obviously I pray a good deal,' he adds, pausing and fixing me with his intense stare, stroking his mesmerising lower lip with a long fore-finger.  'But in order to succeed, one must master the scheme.  I make a point of mastery.'

He's so arrogant!  I can't believe how arrogant this immensely successful young multi-millionaire archbishop is!  

'You sound like a control freak!' I blurt in my blurty way, cursing myself for blurting and suddenly remembering how stupidly big my eyes are, and how blue.  It must be this room.  It's so swanky.  I feel out of place, like the simple Yorkshire lay reader and cub reporter I actually am.

'Oh yes, I like to control things, Miss Boron,' he replies without a trace of humour.

And suddenly I'm aware of the reader thinking Yadda-yadda-yadda, when do we get to the sex?  So I race on through the rest of my questions, pausing now and then to gush inwardly over how insanely good looking and rich he is, alternating this with cringing in mortification about my big eyes and blurting, to the bit where I ask him what he does to chill out.

'To "chill out" as you put it, I fly, I sail, I collect valuable 17th century icons and first editions of Tom Wright's scholarly works, and I indulge in various physical pursuits.'  He flexes his long fore-fingers.  'I'm a very wealthy man, Miss Boron, and I have expensive and absorbing hobbies.'

There's a knock at the door.  It's the blond chaplain chap in the heather leather chaps.  'Archbishop Purple, forgive me for interrupting,' he says hesitatingly, 'but your next meeting is in two minutes.'

'Cancel it, Andreas. We are not through here with the meaningful pauses and innuendoes,' he says.

With a graceful genuflection, Andreas leaves us.

'So Miss Boron,' says Pagan Purple, steepling his fingers rather appropriately for a churchman, 'Let me offer you a job for no particular reason.'

Strange muscles clench in my belly, and I abandon the chapter to continue with my glass of wine before my brain explodes out of my ears at the sheer effort of maintaining the narrative.