This book is on a certain internet website (which I will only advertise when they start paying tax) for £35. I found it in Hexham Oxfam shop – website – for rather less than that. It has been updated and is “A beautiful and practical up-to-date guide to over two thousand of Britain’s best parish churches.”
Richard Surman, who updated the book, has written his own – which looks worth a buy. He has also cornered the market in books about Cathedral cats – I’m sure the St Edmundsbury cats were included.
I must get some of the dvds that have been produced of Betjeman’s TV programmes. I have “Metroland”, and would like “Branch line railway” (if anyone ever puts it on dvd rather than video). This would seem most appropriate for my blog:
Having bought the book, I then found there is an app to download – web details. St Mary’s Ponteland is only given one star, but we have “a most satisfying interior” (sounds like an advert for one of those yogurt drinks which keep you regular!). You can search by place name, or by county map. My only moan so far is that a county map search does not show you the properties just over the border. You have to have know your county maps – I knew my Cambridge Geography degree would come in useful.
Let me end this blog with John Betjeman’s lovely poem “Blame the Vicar”When things go wrong it’s rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame,
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar. The Vicar, after all, is paid
To keep us bright and undismayed.
The Vicar is more virtuous too
Than lay folks such as me and you.
He never swears, he never drinks,
He never should say what he thinks. His collar is the wrong way round,
And that is why he’s simply bound
To be the sort of person who
Has nothing very much to do
But take the blame for what goes wrong
And sing in tune at Evensong. For what’s a Vicar really for
Except to cheer us up? What’s more,
He shouldn’t ever, ever tell
If there is such a place as Hell,
For if there is it’s certain he
Will go to it as well as we. The Vicar should be all pretence
And never, never give offence.
To preach on Sunday is his task
And lend his mower when we ask
And organize our village fêtes
And sing at Christmas with the waits
And in his car to give us lifts
And when we quarrel, heal the rifts. To keep his family alive
He should industriously strive
In that enormous house he gets,
And he should always pay his debts,
For he has quite six pounds a week,
And when we’re rude he should be meek
And always turn the other cheek. He should be neat and nicely dressed
With polished shoes and trousers pressed,
For we look up to him as higher
Than anyone, except the Squire.