Oh dear, My Beloved Sinners, I must apologize for my coverage being terminated so abruptly. I’d set off during the Lord’s Prayer, crawling through the pews in search of a power socket and cable, when suddenly I was seized by a crack team of soldiers from Prince Andrew’s Clapham Common Doggers.
The next thing I’d been spirited away to Scotland Yard via secret wartime tunnels beneath the Abbey, where a charming officer began explaining that even though water-boarding isn’t exactly a British custom, he’d be more than willing to make an exception if I didn’t explain what I’d been doing wriggling between the guest’s legs during the opening bars of “Blest Pair of Sirens" (if there is one thing I’ve long felt lacking in contemporary worship it’s the lack of recognition and respect given to Sirens).
Insisting upon my rights as the holder of a diplomatic passport (if young men from upstate New York can obtain canonical residency in Kenya, there’s certainly nothing untoward in my purchasing Somalian diplomatic status, and given the nation's primary industry is piracy there's actually a natural and oft-overlooked synergy between Somalia and schismatic clergy), I was granted the right to a telephone call, whereupon I immediately dialled Betty’s cellphone.
Would you believe it, however, but here in England it's considered polite to turn one’s cellphone off during formal occasions - even during weddings! I’d certainly never heard of such a thing before, and I’m sure it will never catch on at home. I mean to say; how could people let friends attending a funeral know about a really exciting special at Walmart, or interrupt people attending a film or play to remind their significant other to pick up some milk on the way home? Still, after leaving a couple of messages explaining my urgent need for her to return my call (and allowing my stunned interrogator to hear Betty’s voicemail message as proof that I wasn’t as delusional as he seemed to think I was), I was escorted to a holding cell, and instructed to wait with a number of other obvious subjects of mistaken detention.
And who would have believed it, but there in the midst of the happy throng were Bishop Quinine and Evangelical Eric, still dressed in the tattered remains of their pantomime horse. They’d been spotted by Prince Charles – always a man with a keen eye for horse-flesh – who’d ordered they be bridled and taken to his stables, where he felt they’d make a valuable genetic contribution to his polo-ponies' bloodline.
Naturally Bishop Quinine was elated. Evangelical Eric, on the other hand, began shrieking (to be fair, he was in the costume’s hind quarters), and their ruse was quickly exposed by His Royal Highness’s perceptive ostlers. The authorities were notified, and before you could say ”George Michael” they’d been placed in custody.
No sooner had the pair finished recounting their adventures than the officer who’d questioned me earlier returned. In a pleasingly amazed voice he announced that Her Majesty was on the line, and wished to speak with me. She was, as you would expect, appalled at my treatment, although as a gentleman and a Christian I insisted it was all nothing other than a simple mistake, and that she should let the matter rest with our release; other than casting all those responsible into the Tower of London no further action was necessary.
In fact everything was going so wonderfully that I in closing tapped the speaker-phone button so that she might also convey her apologies to my companions. At which point Evangelical Eric had the foolish compulsion to clear his whining little throat and ask “By the way, Your Majesty, what happened to the groom’s mother, and why isn’t anybody mentioning her today?”
The line went dead, and before I could defuse his faux pax we were dragged away to a cell so deep within the building that were Scotland Yard a mammal I’d say we were taken to somewhere between the large intestine and the colon. Which is not to say things couldn’t have been worse, although Eric found the words written above the doorway to our temporary domicile (“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”) particularly distressing.
After a little while (how time flies when one is chained to the walls) another soldier came to tell us we’d be held down here until Long Kesh could be reopened. Which didn’t mean much to any of us, although a small quiet voice in my spirit suggested it mightn’t be a place where the other inmates afforded Reformed Bible-believing Anglican Protestants the respect to which we are entitled. For the first time things began to look as if we did indeed have a small problem, when Bishop Qunine suddenly recognized the soldier:
“Tickles?” he asked, “is that you?”
“Quinners, Your Grace?”
“Of course it’s me, you naughty little monkey. Don’t tell me the rest of the lads have been posted here with you?”
As the two chuckled and exchanged pleasantries it became clear that Bishop Qunine was in fact old friends with the officers and men of our warder's regiment - “Prince Edward’s Theatricals”. After a little more conversation, and a playful slap which would under any other circumstances have made Eric blush, and sent him scurrying away to compose yet another a letter of complaint to the Archdeacon, the soldier whom had by now been introduced to us Sgt Tickerthope left to consult his officers, assuring us that “there’d be no bother sorting something out for old Quinners and his chums”.
Not ten minutes passed before he returned with an impressive array of firm-chested British military types. It turned out Bishop Quinine had served for a time as the Theatrical’s Chaplain: as a battalion specializing in engagements demanding precision cross-dressing his pastoral skills had become legendary, and the expression “polishing the Bishop” had come to have a special meaning dear to the heart (and other places) of every man in the regiment.
A few more telephone calls and everything was sorted. Our terrible lèse majesté would be covered up, and we would be discretely deported along with a camera crew from “Girls Gone Wild”, who insisted they’d been invited to attend the festivities by Prince Harry’s girlfriend Chelsy.
Which brings us to where we are at present: travelling to Heathrow on board one of the Theatrical’s APCs. I'll write some more to you when we’re on the plane, but right now I’ve got to give Bishop Quinine his iPad back. For reasons neither you or I will ever comprehend he’d like to show his old friends the Donald Trump slideshow he put together on the flight over: I suppose someone other than Rush Limbaugh has to enjoy looking at pictures of the old bankrupt.
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.