This is the Archbishop of Nevill Juvenile Bonfire Society (on the left) and her hapless clergyman (on the right). Atop a hill in high wind, they made a good target for the faithful, assembled in their congregation, last Saturday night. For reasons that my regular readers and everyone in Lewes will easily understand, I cannot bring myself to join in with the condemnation visited upon them. Instead, I restricted myself to studying their technique.
In so doing I marvelled at their lady Archbishop’s elegance. (Sorry, I don’t know her name.) She had already ascended the stand by the time I made it to the top of the hill. My own congregation, whom I had in modest part lent out to her for the evening, reported that she seemed to struggle a little with the steps up the scaffold. I believe she was a founding member of her Society in 1958 and has been its Archbishop ever since. Once up, she was in her element. Nimble footed, elegant and very able, we admired her ecclesiastical class. I’m looking forward to paying my compliments in person at the first ever Bishop’s Breakfast, on 4th November.
Her clergyman clutched a domestic fire guard to his face throughout the whole sermon. I assume that was for comedic value because he was very well protected. Unlike his boss, he was dolled up in cumbersome heavy duty gardening gloves. Behind the fire guard, his eyes hid behind safety goggles of some sort. Various people suggested that I might ape this new technique. Amusing though it was, I will refrain. Nevill has mastered the art of the comic clergy. Southover is much more serious. If it was actually for his personal protection, I am sympathetic to his plight. Last year his costume was shredded, so voluminous and accurate were their parishioners’ protests.
Be under no mistake of judgment, being a bonfire archbishop is no easy brief. The Commander in Chief of Cliffe Bonfire Society recently explained the mischief my counterpart in her ranks suffers. I left that meeting a very shaken man and comforted myself by pacing out the sides of a massive field in darkness, with a former clergyman by my side. Whatever he was talking about that night, I have no idea. I was in private prayer.
Whilst I do have a lot to say (Have you noticed?), I’d like to hear your ideas for what should be included in my sermon this year. Although Southover Bonfire Society has lost its fire site, I expect to be sermonising from somewhere. Details will be posted here, as and when appropriate.
No topic is too big or too small, I’ll do personal requests, I’ll do it for money and, ladies, it doesn’t have to be money. Luckily, for me, the basic morality of a bonfire bishop is somewhat unconventional. So pop your thoughts into the comment box and do make sure to keep them short because I’m the essayist here!