Folk I encounter on my peregrinations across High Town, sometimes stop me and ask: ‘Vicar – how did you come to be de-frocked?’ Oftentimes, this question is posed in Polish.
I usually explain to them that I am bound by the terms of a Gagging Order signed by the then-Bishop of Hereford, The Right Rev Greville Chasuble, save to say it was a very minor misdemeanour, of no great import, involving a) an amateur abseiling session down the cathedral tower to raise funds for a hedgehog sanctuary at Tillington; and b) my total absentmindedness in forgetting to put on any underpants that morning.
It was the graphic telephoto images, broadcast that evening on Midlands Today (which then went viral), which sealed my fate – and caused irreparable damage to the BBC’s Birmingham switchboard. But all that – as the former Mrs Membridge-Tinninges so aptly reminds me, in her annual Christmas card from Antibes – is now in the past.
As Christ himself put it (in his sermon on the steps of Aldi’s Tel Aviv branch, I think it was): “We should always turn the other cheek - after first checking that a) we are wearing underpants and b) there are no BBC Midlands cameramen lurking nearby”. A happy Hallowe'en to you all.
E. Membridge-Tinninges (Rev – defrocked)