Dear Archbishop Justin Welby,
Perhaps I deployed my moral compass a little bluntly in my first letter to you? If I was, it was purely out of a very keenly held desire to help you avoid the ethical quagmire that so many of your predecessors have fallen into. I do hope you haven’t taken offence? I guess your past in the oil industry may have left you a little touchy on being challenged to change your attitude to the difference between right and wrong. The important thing now is for everyone to recognise that those dark days are behind you, that you’ve taken on a conspicuous job and will need some time settling in. So I forgive you for not yet replying to my correspondence. I know you like to keep abreast of the ecclesiastical world and have no doubt that you have read my letter. If you’re struggling to find the time to sit down and compose an equally eloquent reply, please don’t bother. You can’t hope to reach the giddy heights of my rhetoric. Besides, it doesn’t matter to me whether you use ten syllable words or not. It’s the thought that counts, right?
There’s a lot of excitement here in Southover, Lewes about your involvement in this year’s commemoration of our martyrs on 5th November. I admit that your presence will certainly draw a much bigger crowd than we are used to. There will be lots of people who will wish to bring their heresy to your attention, in our traditional manner. Don’t let that put you off coming. Although you’ll be standing next to me on Southover Bonfire Society’s clergy stand, please do remember that it will be me who is the target of their abuse, not you. You’ll be held in the highest esteem, promise. Also, please don’t be put off by what I wrote in my official report of the first sermon by an Archbishop of Southover in the 21st century. I did probably commit the sin of over dramatisation. You know how easy it is to get carried away when knocking up an official report. I expect you fell foul of that all the time back in your days as an oilman! I’ve been asked to contribute to this year’s bonfire programme and am wondering what title I should give you? I ask because I realise that you may not be attending in your official capacity. Let’s face it, that chap in York might get jealous. I heard he was the jealous type. Is it true that you two are lovers? If you are, best keep it under your pointy hat for now. Not sure the Church is ready for a confession of that scale. Not just yet, anyway.
In today’s letter, I’d like to concentrate on sartorial advice. These mitres are damnable things aren’t they? I’d far rather wear the cowl of the brother monks of Southover, which cover your ears nicely. My mitre rests uncomfortably on top of my ears. Also, rather embarrassingly, it turned out that my head was a bit smaller than the person it was originally purchased for and therefore, a last minute alteration had to be made, with a staple gun. I bet your clerical assistants wouldn’t dream of using a metal staple to alter your pointy hat! Down here in Lewes we are, as you will have surmised, a bit rough and ready. Well, actually, in my case, very rough and very ready for action. Know what I’m saying? I think you do!
I highly recommend soaking your robes in a solution of borax. That will stop you from going up in smoke when you pass by a large fire. It’s also handy when flaming objects fall on you or when some miscreant from the rabble throws a firework in your direction. These costumes are so elaborate that burn marks will spoil the effect. There’s also the all important health and safety aspect. Sure, you’d go down in history filed under ‘Old Fashioned Religious Termination’ if you were burnt alive, which would make for a great obituary but I wouldn’t recommend it. Also, taking that exit strategy would be somewhat counterproductive to your forthcoming consultancy role here in Lewes.
The received wisdom on the best way to make a solution of borax is two and a half tablespoons of borax to one cup of boiling water. Let the solution cool before you use it. You can put it into a water spray to apply it, if you like. However, let’s face it, that could take all day, especially with all those fancy garments you have. I’d scale up the amounts if I were you so that you can fill your bath tub with the mixture. Then you can leave your vestments to soak in it while you get on with other stuff, like replying to my correspondence (hint). It does come off in the rain, so make sure to buy plenty for re-application. It works beautifully, God knows how.
Well, I can’t chat all morning. I’ve a bonfire committee meeting to attend later and various other nitty gritty tasks to perform between then and now. It’s not all gravitas and sermonising is it?
Looking forward very much to your reply,