Category Archives: Fun in Forton

If We Had a Hammer …

Today is the Feast Day of S. Hilary of Poitiers, a.k.a. Malleus Araianorum, or ‘the Hammer of Arians.’  Hilary was born in around 300 in Poitiers, Gaul.  He married, and had at least one daughter, Abra, who herself went on to become a Saint.  Legend has it that Hilary and his family were originally pagans, but Hilary was always an avid reader, and he literally read himself into the Faith – first embracing salvation by good works, then monotheism, and eventually Christianity via the New Testament.

In around 353, Hilary was unanimously elected as Bishop by the citizens of Poitiers.  Very quickly, he came into conflict with powerful Arian forces within the Church.  Arianism, to cut a long story short and oversimplify things ridiculously, was the heresy that claimed that Jesus was a nice bloke but not God incarnate.  They were a powerful lobby within the Church at the time, and they managed to get Hilary exiled from his See.

Hilary, unlike some clerics we could name, did not waste his time in exile on silly pursuits like gardening and making cakes.  He wrote a couple of weighty treatises refuting Arianism, and travelled around Italy and Asia Minor asserting the truth of Orthodoxy and trying to bring Arians back to the full faith.  In fact, he caused so much trouble in Constantinople that the Arians there had him sent back to Poitiers – and thus his exile was ended for the same reason that it was begun.

His own people loved him, and so did his best student Martin, who went on to become S. Martin of Tours.  But Hilary was by no means universally popular.  The Golden Legend tells the story of an Arian Pope called Leo who called Hilary “a cock, and not the son of a hen.”  We have no idea what he meant.  Mind you, the Pope soon got his come-uppance, as he died Elvis-style on the toilet, when “by the conduit of his nether part [he] voided out all the entrails of his body.”  Nice.

Moving swiftly onwards …  

All this talk of hammering the Arians reminds us that the Vicar has been displaying some strange (or should we say, stranger) behaviour of late, and has frequently been spotted wandering around the garden with a hammer and a kettle of boiling water.  We were beginning to wonder whether she was a serial killer, but thus far all her aggression seems to have been taken out on the ice in the bird bath.

Thankfully, this violent attitude seems to be melting away with the snow, and today the birds have been happily bathing and drinking without any intervention from the Vicar.  Meanwhile, the Diocese has finally realised that she is completely bonkers, and has published a warning on their website, in the form of a picture of the Holy Wellies.

We, on the other hand, would not stoop so low, and so instead we present a couple of snaps of the Church in the snow.





All White on the Night

For the last few days, it seems as if everyone in Britain has had snow except us.  Just when the Vicar was starting to get really grumpy about this, the Arctic Oscillation finally obliged us with the white stuff this evening.

The Vicar, clad in two wellington boots (sensible), one gardening glove (slightly bizarre) and no coat (downright idiotic), made a pathetic excuse about having to put out the fox’s dinner, then ran around the garden for ages in a barely contained state of overexcitement.

We, of course, were more circumspect about the whole thing, and spent most of the evening just looking at the snow from the warmth and safety of the study.  But, snow is snow, and you do have to have a little walk in it just to make sure your paws are still waterproof.  So, for your edification and delight, we present the following pics:

Does she expect us to go out in that?

So that's where it comes from!

Cover me, I'm going out there ...

Anyone know how you build an igloo?

Actually, the novelty's wearing off now.

Told you.

And then, dear Reader, we made our excuses and left ...

Advent Gingerbread

Oh dear.  The Saint Nick’s Day Fayre is approaching once more (yes, we know Saint Nick’s Day was a while back, but don’t pick holes in the Parish programme please).  You might think this is a fun and frolicsome event for the whole family, but you would be wrong.  Very wrong.

Not content with trying to poison the congregation by making them fairy cakes, the Vicar is now threatening to embark on a new culinary endeavour and make cookies to sell – yes, sell – to the unsuspecting people of Forton.  We all know the Vicar is less than domesticated, and frankly, dear reader, this can only end badly.

Luckily we have found a natty little place on the Internet where it’s possible to enjoy all the fun of the icing without any of the actual getting your paws dirty.  In order to recommend this (much safer) course of action to the Vicar, we have embarked on our own little project.  Hopefully it will remind her that she is more suited to the Sanctuary than the kitchen.  You can view our offering by clicking here.

Martha’s Big Adventure

Martha's mugshot, distributed everywhere
Martha’s mugshot, distributed everywhere

While Martha is fast asleep on the hall rug, Mary writes:

 To celebrate the New Year, Martha disappeared from home for two nights and two and a half days this week.  This left me, Lily & Alma, the Vicar and the Elf in a state of frantic worry.  Fliers were distributed, posters were put up, candles lit and many prayers were said, until eventually a neighbour recognised her picture and phoned the Vicarage.

The Vicar and the Elf hot-footed it over, and found her cowering under a bush.  She came back to us tired, hungry and scared, but unhurt.  More prayers were said, and more tears were shed – but this time they were of gladness and not desperation.

Canonisation proceedings are now in place for the neighbour who spotted her, the Elf (who did most of the legwork delivering fliers) and Maureen from Gosport Town Cats Protection, whose help, advice and support were invaluable to us through the whole ordeal.

candle-animated As today is the Feast of Saint Felix of Nola, who is the Patron of domestic animals (for reasons which are not, to be fair, entirely clear), we light this cyber-candle for all animals who are lost, and the humans who are searching for them.

May God their Creator watch over them, the prayers of the Saints aid them, and the Holy Angels bring them in safety to their homes.  Amen

So here it is…

elf-lights… Merry Christmass!

By way of a seasonal gift, the whole family has picked out our favourite videos for you to enjoy.  Happy Christmass viewing.


From Mary and Martha:



From Lily and Alma:


christmass-lights-22From the Vicar (and you thought the Curate in the giant Christingle was bad…):


The blessings of the Christ Child be on you all.


La Vicar en Rose

advent-wreath-3Happy Gaudete Sunday!

It’s that lovely point mid-way through Advent when we all get a little break from penitential purple, and the Rose vestments make a rare appearance in Church.

The title of the day comes not from Steeleye Span, but from the Introit to the Latin Mass: Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, Gaudete!  Or, to put it another way, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

The Vicar had great cause to rejoice this morning, as she got to wear her new Fiddleback, made especially for her in Rome.  Photographs were supposed to have been taken (not least because the tailor wanted a copy…) but in all the excitement, they got forgotten.  So instead, we present you with this picture of a vastly inferior modern gothic chasuble, worn by a cleric almost as famous as the Vicar herself:


(Note to readers: this bloke is easily confused with the Holy Curate of Sheppey.  You can tell them apart, though, because the Holy Curate has never yet been seen in pink polyester…)

Mother Mary and the Mini Mongolians


Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it being nine months before her birthday comes round again.  [Note for anyone who is already confused: the Immaculate Conception is about the conception of Mary, not about the virgin birth of Jesus – so you can save all those “Oh Joseph, that was immaculate” jokes…  The Church celebrates the conception of Jesus Christ on the Feast of the Annunciation.]

The doctrine that Our Lady was conceived without stain of sin (macula) is one of those that people get very heated up about.  Christians have believed and celebrated it since at least the Ninth Century, but it wasn’t declared an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church until 1854.  Until then, you were allowed to argue about it all you wanted, as long as you didn’t call the other side nasty names.  Seems fair enough to us. 

velazquezThe arguments over the doctrine were mostly centred around obscure theological and philosophical problems, which the Vicar couldn’t really be bothered to explain to us (and, to be honest, we weren’t all that fussed about listening to her).  But, like all the great theological debates of the Church, there were some more mundane issues going on too – in this case, a bit of good old-fashioned xenophobia. 

Most of the early champions of the doctrine were English, whereas a lot of the big shots on the Continent, like Aquinas and Bonaventure, remained unconvinced.  Bonaventure even called it “the foreign doctrine,” clearly implying that English people are a bit barmy and believe some quite odd things.  We couldn’t possibly comment. 

english-devotion-taymouth-hoursThe English Church has always had a rather independent take on Catholic doctrine and tradition, so they just went on celebrating the Feast anyway, and waited for Rome to catch up. 

Nowadays, the Church of England has gone back to the earliest roots of the Festival, and calls it simply The Conception of the BVM; so in this instance, it really is true that you can believe what you want in the C of E. 

We’ve been celebrating the Feast by getting to know our new housemates.  The Vicar’s been threatening to start a menagerie for months now, and we knew something was up a few weeks ago when she and the Cellarer arrived back from a drive to Tipton Pobley (or somewhere) with a large glass tank. 

the-tankFirst we thought it might be for fish, but the tank had shelves, which made it a rather unlikely aquarium.  We quickly discounted anything with more than four legs, or anything that eats live insects; invertebrates are definitely not in the Vicar’s contract.

We had abandoned all hope of anything even vaguely rodenty too, because the Cellarer is a well-known suriphobic and we very much doubted that he would have allowed a mouse house in his car.  But, lo and behold (and this doesn’t happen often), we were wrong!

The Vicar had come back from Church looking particularly weary yesterday, muttering darkly about early mornings, radio interviews, TV cameras, girl bishops and whose stupid idea was it in the first place…  But she’d hardly had time to start her customary forty thousand winks when there was a ring on the doorbell.  In walked a lovely young woman, bearing in her arms a veritable miscellany of substrate, food, toys, water bottles and … GERBILS!!!


Unfortunately, this exciting narrative has to stop exactly here, as we (the Popes of the Peninsula, no less!) were rudely evicted from our own front room.  By the time we were allowed back in, the nice lady from Bath Gerbil Rescue had disappeared, the tank was full of wood shavings and bits of cardboard, and the Cellarer had undergone some sort of dramatic conversion, having spent about twenty minutes cuddling a rat.

Luckily, the Vicar had her camera on hand as we finally got to meet our new friends.  So we are glad to present to you, in photo montage style (a la Jackie comic 1982), the day that Forton Vicarage became home to two Mongolian Gerbils:

What's going on in here, then?

What's going on in here, then?





Pleased to meet you.

Pleased to meet you.


What's a nice gerbil like you doing in a Vicarage like this?

What's a nice gerbil like you doing in a Vicarage like this?


Nice little home they've got, here.

Nice little home they've got here.


Mongolian head massage.

Mongolian head massage.


Right, here's how you get round the Vicar...

Right, here's how you get round the Vicar...


Got any Galaxy Ripple in that bowl?

Got any Galaxy Ripple in that bowl?


And tonight on Gerbil TV...

And tonight on Gerbil TV...