‘The people which sat in darkness have seen a great light. And to them which sat in the shadows of blobbishness light has sprung up’
-The Testimonies Of Gove
I, for one, do not believe that people should be forced to say what they know they should not say, or mean. And yet, a’las, such has been the case since the appointment of the Reverend Arthur Farquar to the Parish of St Tobias-in-the-North. Gone is the esteemed portrait of Lord Aberdeen purveyor of decreased beer tax duty; gone the statue of Lord Gordon Grid-Iron of the Umbongos. Gone the 48 carat gold, gem encrusted, censers and with them precious memories held by the parishioners of their fathers and forefathers and the role they played in the civil war of Umbongo Bongo.
‘A brand from the burning! They are a congregation plucked like a brand from the burning! Oh sweet Gove, dear precious guardian of my soul! King of Kings! And Lord of Lords! Oh Captain of the Armies of the Lord God of Ofsted! Turn thy shining gaze upon us, look upon us thy supplicants at the throne of unbridled revelation! Shed thy tender gaze upon us sweet Gove! Refresh us oh refresh us! St Gove!”
“Sweet Gove” mutter the congregants glancing at each other and rolling their eyes.
“Oh Gove!” groans the Reverend Arthur Farquar, his hands thrown palmward to heaven, his eyes gazing all the while upon a marble representation of the essence of his lord and saviour (and now theirs) St. Gove.
“That ruddy statue cost us fifty pounds! Fifty ruddy pounds!” one parishioner remarked aggressively,”
“And he’s quadrupled the number of Sunday services and says we’re to attend everyone or risk ex-communication! Father McMahon used to supply us with a strong abundance of wine during communion” whispered another,
“Does e expect us to worship at the throne of Gove all Sunday long?! And to take our communion merely with water? And pray what of the wirgin Mary and Our Lord? Where do they figure in this?” hissed another,
“Credo in unum GOVE-um! Factorum caeli et TER-RAE! Visibilium omnium! et OM-NIUM!”
An ethereal light seems to fall from the stain-glassed window (newly purchased) upon the naked head of the Reverend Arthur Farquar, whom, if we were to make predictions based upon the naked inclinations of the congregants, is not long for this world. For as the reverend, reverend, turns once more toward the altar of St.Gove, a congregant takes a pork-pie bought that morning from Mrs Scroggins out of his pocket, and begins to munch upon it. Another uncorks a bottle of beer and taking a large gulping swig, that he may better slake his thirst, lets rip a raucous snigger. And still another congregant (we know not who) unwraps a Turkey Twizzler and a bread roll and with bib wrapped tightly around her neck and knife in hand, begins to make her lunch.
Such conduct would outrage even the gentlest Goveen devotee, but Lord Arthur, choosing to exercise both prudence and rectitude, pretends he cannot hear the vigorous munching and swigging going on in the pews behind him. Instead he turns his eyes upon the essence of St. Gove casting the new bought gold-plated censer before him. “Let us pray” he intones melodiously in keeping with the new Goveen way, for he reasons that once most heads are bowed in deep spiritual reflection, he may safely turn his benficent gaze upon them all and bring the service to a close. But alas! It is not to be for as the most reverend, reverend turns to administer his final blessing his gaze falls upon a congregant who having made his way up the aisle stops gob-smacked before the priest.
“I know you!” he loudly asserts, “Wasn’t you at Raven’s Industrial Academy?” poor Arthur Farquar! Is it to be ever thus? “You were! You’re the Mole Trouser Stretcher! You was there when it got burned down by the Principal!” dear reader, the intake of breath amongst the congregation is audible. Raven’s Industrial Academy? Of the parish of St. Bacchanalia? Could this be he? The Master responsible for the Mole-Trouser-Stretching-Scandal? Clutching at his surplice Reverend Farquar staggers through the closing prayer and dismisses the congregation. But no one moves, all remain seated until at length one among their number, Thomas Liquorish, senior warden and ardent opponent of Goveen’ism hobbles forth. His eyes gleam with hatred, a sour smile flits across his bearded visage and taking in the marble altar (newly purchased) and matching statue he utters only five words,
“We want our church back!”