22 Feb

A Better Class of Bishop

For all their ganging up with the underclass against the government’s attempts to shake these people out of their idleness and the debilitating cycle of dependency in which this keeps them, the English bishops are careful not to get too close to the lumpen proletariat. I’ve never seen a bishop in the bookie’s for instance. If they go to the pub, it’s in the form of a ceremonial visit – never to huddle with mates in the corner over a game of dominoes or the racing paper. How many bishops can actually boast of owning a savage dog? Have you ever seen a bishop smoking – a fag, I mean? I don’t know any bishop who can roll his own, let alone one who likes the occasional joint or does a line of Charlie. They only watch snippets of downmarket telly for long enough to intrude a clunking reference to, say, Strictly Come Dancing in a sermon.

I suppose we should be thankful that the right reverend gentlemen – soon to be augmented by right reverend ladies who, we may be sure, will not resemble ladettes – adjure the yobbish lifestyle. But the effete, suburban style of life they do assume is scarcely better. I bet their kids say “toilet.” Time was when bishops were princes of the church and behaved like it. Bring back the palaces, the grand balls and reception; the riding to hounds and a dash of purple visible on the grouse moor. People like class, the grand manner and the patrician mode. These guys are supposed to be our fathers-in-God after all.

It’s years since a bishop invited me to kiss his ring. But then…