Fifty Shades of Greek Goddess.

A marble lady nonchalantly strutting her stuff (and showing her butt) for the public in Nîmes, France.

A marble lady nonchalantly strutting her stuff (and showing her butt) for the public in Nîmes, France.

It was a normal evening in the Mars family household on Mount Olympus. The twins were fighting on the floor as Rhea Silvia reached for the bottle of grappa and topped up her glass.

“For the love of Venus, put that down, boys. What a pair of animals; anyone would think you’d been brought up by wolves… No, Rommy darling, it’s not a cheese slicer. It’s called a lyre, and it’s a present from Aunty Aphrodite. Put it down, please – she’ll be harping on about it for years if you break it”.

“Lyre, lyre, pants on fire!” The twins dissolved into hysterical laughter. Rhea rolled her eyeballs and downed her glass in three large gulps. Wiping her mouth on her forearm, she thought back to the romantic pre-partum era. It had seemed a good idea at the time to seduce the God of War, but she had suddenly woken up to the hard reality of life in a villa with six snotty toddlers and an award-winning muffin top, only to discover that Mars had a worrying penchant for going into battle wearing her rara skirts.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a deep, virile voice booming “Hi, honey, I’m home!” and the sound of the front door slamming shut. Rhea Silvia languidly draped her naked body across the sofa and set her features in what she hoped to be a sultry pout. “Gerroff! Daddy’s home!” she hissed through clenched teeth as she tried to shake off the two whining, naked infants fastened to her ankles.

Mars stomped across the carpet, his armour glistening in the light of the lava lamp, and threw his sword on the sofa. “By Jupiter, what a day!” His eyes roved over her feminine curves, surveying the galb of her calves, her plump thighs and dimpled rear before hungrily devouring the sight of the flab riding sidecar on her hips and finally coming to rest on her generous belly roll. The corners of his mouth twitched into a smirk. “Didn’t have time to get dressed this morning, then?” he enquired, eyebrows arched in mock surprise. Rhea ran a hand slowly through her hair and peered demurely out from behind her fringe. “Is that a Mars Bar in your pocket, or are you pleased to see me?” she murmured as he approached.

You may have guessed from the above text that MM has been wandering around a museum looking at the antique equivalent of eye candy again. I am a sucker for museums and art galleries, and am particularly fond of mummies, paintings and sculpted marble bottoms. Whilst bespectacled art boffins strike poses with notebooks and reverentially peruse the paintings for unique perspectives, technical brush strokes and ingenuous lighting techniques, MM is quietly writing alternative titles and scenarios in her head for every work of art she sees. The tale above is one such example – incidentally, Rhea Silvia’s real story turned out to be much sadder than mine. Here is the painting that inspired MM’s ‘Fifty Shades of Greek Goddess », actually called « Le Retour de Mars » by Nicolas-René Jollain, (1732-1804), and found at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nîmes.

A very bad photo of "Le retour de Mars" by Nicolas-René Jollain.

A very bad photo of “Le retour de Mars” by Nicolas-René Jollain.

When I see paintings of women, I am struck by the candid and honest portrayal of the female physique, and by the models’ evident pride to be the way mother nature intended them to be, rather than the cocktail-stick morphology many women try to attain today through draconian diets and exercise plans. These paintings graced the walls of men and women who spent hours admiring what they perceived as opulent beauty. What would they have made of the photo-shopped, latex knicker-toting toothpicks in the Pirelli calendar? Or the miserable, emaciated models that mince down the designer catwalk as makeshift human coathangers for clothing, applauded by rows of high-society fashionistas who can spend a fortune attempting to look like they’ve never eaten a decent meal in their lives? The women staring out of those paintings are calm and proud of their curves, yet many women today look in the mirror and heave a sigh of frustration when they see the same thing. Curves used to be a sign of wealth, health and abundance of food, yet today, more means less, and many of our female role models are no more than skin and bones as they throw money into cellulite treatment, liposuction and miracle diets.

I made this realisation before Christmas, when my muffin top suddenly mutated and morphed into something similar to Mrs Mars’ belly. In what appears to be an overnight putsch, Muffin Top was superceded by a new, terrible enemy: Sinister Soufflé, the dark and dangerous lardlord of the middle-aged darknesses, who had risen overnight and was waiting for me the next morning, unapologetically drooping over the top of my pyjamas like a rabid blancmange.

Yup, this would be it. Muffin top has mutated into Sinister Soufflé.  Photo source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaker_Faire_San_Mateo_2008_0022.JPG

Yup, this would be it. Muffin top has mutated into Sinister Soufflé.
Photo credit: Dvortygirl. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaker_Faire_San_Mateo_2008_0022.JPG

Sinister Soufflé’s evil counterpart, Tefla the scales, had been silenced many months earlier by a dead battery. Her last attempts to charm me into replacing it were touching – every time I stepped onto her glass surface, she flashed up a chirpy « Lo », which I immediately interpreted as meaning that that my weight was nothing worry about. Since then she had been gathering dust below the laundry basket.

Tefla was kitted out with a new battery, and as I looked at the double zero awaiting me, the pit of my stomach reacted just like it does at the sight of the online banking screen after Christmas. You know you have to do it, but you also know you’re going to feel awful.

I will not go into the facts and figures; suffice to say that Tefla and a tape measure confirmed that I had far too much flab. After having exhausted all the possible excuses, ranging from food allergies to being possessed by evil spirits intent on avenging an unknown enemy I had drunk under the table in a previous life, I was left with the conclusion that I had noone and nothing to blame but myself.

That was when I stopped and wondered what was going on beneath the roll of belly fat. Mrs Mars may have been curvaceous and opulent, but she was also happily oblivious to the mecanics going on below her skin, and probably thought that Gluteus Maximus was no more than a legionary with a huge appetite. Pinching Sinister Soufflé, I imagined Larry the liver, who gritted his teeth and processed my lorryload of peanuts and generous serving of wine every evening without fail, and Marcel the Muscle, who was softening up by the minute from lack of exercise. Imagining my blood swooshing through veins that were perhaps slowly clogging up with cholesterol, I realised that what was important wasn’t getting rid of the muffin top, but simply being healthy. This provided a whole new slant on the body fat issue: Muffin Top and the sidekicks riding sidecar on my hips were a symptom, not the condition. That meant forgetting the word “diet”, which I negatively associate with deprivation and frustration, and focussing on getting healthy. If it (-and I-) worked out, I’d feel good (cue James Brown) and a trimmer figure would hopefully be a pleasant by-product.

If I wanted to stop the trend, I had to stop filling my face with rosé and peanuts every evening, and take more exercise – until ten weeks ago, the only crunch I approved of was wrapped in paper and could be polished off in five minutes flat. So I struck alcohol and the associated nibbles off my daily menu for a month, and added a daily 5K walk in the countryside with a delighted Smelly Dog and grumpy Mrs Playmo. Dry January became dry February, then dry March. My walks in the country are slowly becoming more jog than walk. That pair of jeans I had kept at the back of the cupboard “just in case” is no longer too small, and Tefla has just confirmed an eleven pound loss. Most importantly, I feel good (na-na-na-na-na-na-nah). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a clean toga and a lyre before PF rolls in from work.

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How to Embrace Your Inner Bitch.

Farmer Farthing over at the Asylum recently described how a run-in with a bottle of vodka awoke the Kraken within. I nodded in sympathy. Everybody has one.

Once again, Mrs Playmo had failed to put her Inner Bitch on a lead.

Once again, Mrs Playmo had failed to put her Inner Bitch on a lead.

Meet your Inner Bitch.

She’s raw, she’s rough and she makes Ridley Scott’s Alien look as scary as Yogi Bear. We are brought up to ignore her, yet we don’t listen to her often enough. She tells us what we don’t want to hear – she’s our inner voice, our gut feeling, our deep-seated instinct.

Inner Bitch is Gollum’s little sister,  jealously guarding your most secret fears. Naked, unkempt and rebellious, she keeps away from the light, crouching in the corners of your mind and flitting through the dark shadows of your consciousness. At nightfall, she grabs her bag, slams the door and gets the lift to your mind. She parties drunkenly in your dreams and lets rip with her high-pitched screams, appealing to you through the mists of sleep to say things her way. You refuse. As the day dawns, she stomps back to her cave, where she kicks off her scruffy Doc Martins, crouches on the floor in her underwear and flicks cigarette ash into a dirty coffee cup. She mutters obscenities and calls you a loser as she observes you smiling through gritted teeth at someone she wishes you would hang upside down off the nearest lamp-post with their underwear on their heads. If only you would listen to her…

My genetic heritage has rewarded me with 1) an exploded brillo pad growing on my head and 2) a multifarious character combining four contradictory elements: English stoicism, Scottish candour, Irish hot-headedness and Welsh stubbornness.

A rare picture of the author to prove that I'm not kidding about the brillo pad. My kids call me Chewbacca.

A rare shot of the author, fondly referred to as  “Chewbacca” by her offspring. Just to prove that I’m not kidding about the brillo pad…

Below this thick coat of hair there is an ideal habitat for my drooling, rabid inner bitch, who is waiting for that one ideal moment to rear her ugly head, known as

The Fuckwit Vortex

We’ve all been sucked into the fuckwit vortex at some point in our lives. Fuckwit is a term I first read in Helen Fielding’s book Bridget Jones’ Diary, and describes a fool or an idiot. We all know a fuckwit, and we are all somebody else’s fuckwit, no matter how hard we try.

For reasons that elude you, someone, consciously or not, is doing their best to goad your Inner Bitch into a conflict. You put on your best deadpan face in the full knowledge that she is foaming at the mouth. Seething and bubbling like a lake of lava behind your mask of self-control. You visualise the words “Off” “Water” “A” “Back” “Duck’s”, and “Wrongs” “Right” “Two” “Make” “A” “Don’t”, and encourage yourself to assemble them in the right order and repeat as necessary until symptoms subside. This “ignore it and it will go away” policy, otherwise known as putting your head in the sand, doesn’t work every time. But fear not, dear reader. We have a secret weapon:

The two-way fuckwit filter

A fuckwit filter, also known as taking a step back, filters the majority of negative fuckwit frequency input. This substantially reduces the amount that reaches Inner Bitch in her cave. When the negative vibes attain her, she bounds up to the access hatch with wild eyes, hair flying and saliva dripping off her chin, only to be caught in the fuckwit filter.

1953 Ad, E Z Kleen Air Filters

If the fuckwit filter could be bought, it would look like this.(Photo credit: classic_film)

Oh frabjous day! Caloo, calay! The fuckwit filter saves the day! Or not. Overpowering the inner bitch, muzzling her and putting her back in her cage cannot work for ever. So here is another simple method:

Embrace your inner bitch.

Accommodate her voice and modulate it into a polite form. You can even tinge it with a touch of humour to spice it up if you so wish – this is commonly called sarcasm. Watch the grin spread across your inner bitches face. She will clap her hands with glee, leap into her armchair and grab a bucket of popcorn to enjoy the show, because you finally gave her some air space. Amaze yourself as you deliver a softer version of her first draft. Like in music, you can choose the beat and the melody : hard rock, love song, folk or blues. John Lennon, Metallica or the Muppets: the choice is yours and yours only.

This does however demand a great amount of self-control. It is often confused with the very dangerous third option:

Letting the bitch loose.

Woe betide the girl who lets Inner Bitch run amok – if she escapes into the room, she can cause more havoc than Samantha Fox running around the Vatican in her birthday suit.

This often happens when events are taken over by the only other threat to humanity: Herr Hormone and his henchmen (more about him here). When the bitch hooks up with Herr Hormone, she explodes out of your mouth like Godzilla with a skinful of Jack Daniels and steroids. She rips the truths out of your innards, whizzes them together and vomits them into the room, then returns to her cave and punches the hell out of your stomach wall. This is the worst possible option, because irreparable damage occurs and feelings are hurt. Including yours. From now on you are alone with Inner Bitch, and neither of you will gain any more than solitude from the escapade.

Little Bitch

This girl let her inner bitch escape. She was immediately devoured with ketchup and her shoes were given to Oxfam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So get in touch with your inner bitch, but don’t confuse it with being a bitch. The first is good for you, the second is self-destructive. Inner Bitch really is your best friend. If she is happy, so are you: it’s a win-win situation. Just remember to put her on a lead when you take her out for a walk.

My thanks to Farmer Farthing, aka Welly Girl, for inspiring this post. Welly Girl is a terminally good egg: a ray of sunshine in any grey day. Her blog is a fabulous cocktail of fun, fiction and reality checks. She has a refreshingly different way to cut the proverbial crap, and you should check her out here and now at farmerfarthing.com

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P.M.S, or how to become a Potential Murder Suspect.

Being a girl is not easy. That’s what I explained to Little My this morning, as she blinked though the tears and asked me why she is suddenly swinging between crying and getting angry all the time for no reason. I held my daughter in my arms and tried to break the news as gently as I could: Herr Hormone and his henchmen had taken control of her emotional control panel, rewired it and taken over the management of all behavioural procedures in a subversive, pre-pubescent putsch.

English: Behemoth , roller coaster at Canada's...

Fasten your seatbelts: welcome to the hormonal roller-coaster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know the difference between female hormones and a fairground ride? The answer is that there is no difference at all: they both make you loop the loop and climb to vertiginous heights of exhilaration before plunging into the depths of doom and gloom, leaving you with nausea and a headache.

Men are blissfully ignorant of how it feels to wake up craving chocolate cake and hating the world with the combined malevolence of all three witches in Macbeth. When your Significant Other Half makes the mistake of asking for a matching pair of socks, your eyes pop out of your head, your mouth opens, and out tumbles your outrage at being taken for the family skivvy, closely followed by the age-old comment that he’s a big boy now, that you are not his mother and he can sort his own flaming socks out. You then inform him that he can start his quest for independence by pouring his own coffee, then immediately feel guilty, ask for a cuddle and bawl into his armpit as you plead for chocolate-covered doughnuts and back rubs. Welcome to the hormonal roller-coaster that the medical world coyly refers to as PMS.

all aboaaarrrdd the pms express

Necessary PMS medication stored in adequate pill box (Photo credit: McBeth)

I would love men to get a turn at being a woman. Just for a couple of cycles. Boys, even without being subjected to the multiple “joys” of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding such as being kicked in the bladder all night, crapping a watermelon and having breasts like twin udders, it’d be a real eye-opener for you. Afterwards, you would maybe hesitate to come up with that inter-generational male classic of attributing everything we say that you don’t happen to like to our hormones. For example, when we blow a gasket because you have “invested” the equivalent of a week’s food supply in the purchase of a plant for the garden “because it was cheap”, it cannot be brushed off using your very unscientific “theory of menstruality”. This implies that we would have been thrilled to bits and kissed you fore and aft for your great initiative at any other moment in our cycle. No, guys;  it really does mean that we are angry and we don’t agree. Period. (Sorry for the tasteless pun. I couldn’t resist it.)

Yes, I’m sure you would enjoy being a girl for a month. You could discover the harsh reality of living with boobs: blancmange-like parasites with minds of their own that inflate and deflate in tempo with Herr Hormone’s whims. They start an irreversible migration south just when we girls can enjoy having them as a feminine asset rather than a refuelling pod or airbag for our offspring (further information about boobs can be obtained from a previous post entitled “Nesting and Migration in the lesser spotted boob“).

English: An assortment of spanner wrenches and...

Possible contents of an OB-Gyn’s tool  kit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Then there’s the necessary, sine qua non experience of the check-up at what my favourite author Kathy Lette aptly describes as « the cervix station ». Go ahead, guys, test it out. You will discover that there is nothing quite so unnerving as a complete stranger brightly enquiring what you what you do for a living as he peers hopefully into your depths like Indiana Jones checking out a dank, bottomless cave on his quest for the holy grail.

That’s why I have always found myself a female Ob-Gyn. At least, I have done since an unfortunate first experience as a young woman (a long time ago, as you no doubt suspect). I went through the Yellow Pages and hunted down the oldest French christian name in the list, convinced that pre-retired specialists would be totally blasé about seeing half-naked women.  I took an appointment with the presumably ancient and wrinkly Emile, and sailed confidently into the surgery to find an eager, young and square-jawed Grey’s Anatomy-style doctor who had obviously just graduated from medical school. Lesson learned: never judge a book by it’s cover.

I will leave you with this helpful spoof information film to help men deal with PMS.  I apologise to my parents for my choice of subject – I can’t help it. It’s no doubt because of my hormones…..

Nesting and migration in the lesser-spotted boob.

Driving down the motorway yesterday on my way to the nearest metropolis, I flicked on the radio. As usual, it was tuned into my children’s favourite station, NRJ.  As I tailed along behind a lorry, the garrulous and entertaining Manu informed his listeners that he had discovered a blog.

“Whoopee”!! I thought. A fun blog address where we can check out something cool, like the breathtakingly exciting adventures of an Inuit Eskimo hunting in sub-zero temperatures, dressed in caribou skin undies and armed with no more than a hand-sharpened teaspoon and a rubber band. But the blog in question was that of a Spanish young lady who takes a photo of her cleavage and publishes it every day.

Booby Trap in a hotel room?

Somebody has already written the book. Dammit, Janet. (Photo credit: firepile)

I am not going to start beating my breast about booby blogs – each to his or her own. I did however wonder what written content can go with these photos. Maybe the author had written about the history of the bosom, investigated the social importance of the maternal breast, examined the impact of Jane Birkin’s ironing board and Lolo Ferrari’s airbags on their respective careers, or written a titillating (ar-hum) off-beat story about her mammaries entitled “A Tale of Two Titties”, “Bosom Buddies”, or “Booby Trap”. Had she posted something interesting or fun alongside the photo of her cleavage?

Google translate was formal: the written content was a recipe combining breasts (presumably not chicken), slices of chorizo sausage and potatoes. Fun for some, but maybe not sufficiently thrilling content to captivate hoards of followers for long.

I have therefore written an alternative post for her next cleavage photo, to be read out loud à la Richard Attenborough. So here goes. Drum roll, please….. My apologies to my parents, who are muttering “she’ll never change” and reaching for their dark glasses and balaclava helmets.

Nesting and migration in boobus mammarius.

The lesser-spotted boobus mammarius, commonly known as the boob, is a parasite that develops during early human adolescence. Couples remain faithful throughout life, and fix themselves to the upper part of the female human anatomy (henceforth referred to as the host) where they slowly develop until reaching maturity.

Boobs come in all sizes, and for reasons unknown to womankind they do not seem to follow the rule of symmetry. Thus, one is generally observed to be plumper than the other. Further research is necessary to establish whether this size difference entails the dominance of one boob over the other in decision-making situations such as migration.

Nesting

Boobs nest in a lace-lined contraption provided by the host, commonly called a bra. The nest can also be referred to in host language as an over-shoulder boulder holder, an upper-decker, a double-barrelled slingshot or a flopper stopper.

Candy

Nesting boobs in their natural habitat. In this case, the host has attempted to retain them using candy as a bait. Note dominant boob on right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is thought that this high altitude nesting site was chosen by the first generations of boobs in a bid to stay out of the reach of their most ferocious predator, handus mannus (commonly called “The Hand” in host language). This species generally prowls at night, preying on innocent boobs as they sleep. Fortunately, the host provides round-the-clock protection and has been observed to be unusually aggressive in a bid to provide safe haven for her protégées.

Unexpected movements of the female host, such as running to save screaming offspring, can occasionally result in boobs falling out of their nests. The host’s aid is necessary for them to regain safe haven, as the boob is only capable of downward movement (see migration, below).

Like many other parasites, they return the favour to their host in the form of basic functions. These include attracting a mate, feeding any offspring, and serving as a decoy to attract attention whilst the host’s eyes convey a message to a third party.

Migration

Like the bald eagle, boobs are monogamous. They therefore begin their slow migration south together after approximately forty years of faithfulness to their nesting site. There is still a hot debate over why boobs migrate south, and three main schools of thought have appeared. One theory suggests that migration is the boob equivalent of retiring to the Costa Brava after their numerous years of loyal service. Other researchers propose a socio-economic argument, namely that boobs migrate in a bid to join their distant relative, biggus bottomus, whose more generous proportions and wider horizons may tempt less realistic boobs southwards for a better lifestyle. Another theory describes the irresistible pull of gravity; this appears to be the most plausible explanation to date.

cleavage

Migrating boobs. (Photo credit: DMWCarol)

Boob migration unfortunately occurs at a time where the host has become dependent on her companions. She therefore attempts to delay migration by nourishing them with expensive creams and tempting them with a luxury nest known as the Wonderbra. However, the drawback of this method is that it also attracts any handus mannus roaming in the area. Despite these baiting efforts, boobs generally escape at nightfall and continue their slow, imperceptible migration south.

Sadly, after decades of excruciatingly slow progress, few boobs successfully cross the dreaded Checkpoint Bellybutton on the waistline frontier, and many give up the fight. Unlike salmon, they are unable to return to their birthplace, and are forced to set up a new nest in the arid wastelands of the belly region. Further studies could investigate the new techniques they develop to survive in this new, more oxygenated climate.

Disclaimer: To clear up any confusion, none of the boobs pictured here are mine.

Henry’s heritage: practise what you preach.

I was brought up to avoid the conversational “hot potatoes” of sex, religion and politics. Well, today I’m going to break that golden rule, because something within those three categories has come up which has really got my goat. I am obviously not alone, and recommend this article on “mixedbabygreens”, which is real food for thought.

Anyone who could have sworn that they had heard bellicose laughter echoing within the walls of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle this week probably either pinched themselves or took an appointment with their local shrink.  Yet it would not have surprised me at all. There’s a man buried there who would no doubt have done a victory dance if he’d still been alive to hear the news this week. This man is no other than the initiator of the Church of England, a certain Henry VIII.

Portrait of Henry VIII, c. 1536. Oil and tempe...

Little Henry was probably a nice lad to begin with, but he rapidly became obsessed with the need for a male descendant, which happily coincided with what appears to be an insatiable appetite for women. When he decided that his wife Catherine was no longer fit for the job, he decided to ask for his money back in view of an immediate exchange. Unfortunately for him, the Catholic church drew the line at issuing an annulment for his marriage, so clever Henry got his thinking cap on and rapidly sent the Pope packing.

He immediately reformed the church on his own terms, and was hence able to get shot of Catherine of Aragon for the hopefully fertile and beautiful Anne Boleyn, the sister of one of his many mistresses. Unfortunately, she didn’t produce the male heir either, and got the chop within a few years – both literally and figuratively.

Henry’s appetite for women made modern-day France’s Dominique Strauss Kahn look like a hung-up choir boy as he fell madly in and out of love with women. He got through six wives faster than Bigfoot demolishes a Super-size menu, and died at the age of 55. Two of his four deceased wives were executed, and the last happily survived him along with Anne of Cleves, no doubt taking the time to drink a toast as the coffin lid was nailed down.

The Church of England has gone a long way since. They opened the doors to female priests in 1992. At that time I applauded them for their open-mindedness and their conviction, and really thought that this church was going somewhere.

But this week, my position changed. For those who missed the news this week, the Church of England’s General Synod voted against giving women access to the Bishopry. The great glass ceiling, which most evolved societies have strived to eliminate for women, is apparently still firmly in place in the C of E. It is even more concerning to see that the “against” camp got the last word despite 72.6% of votes being cast in favour of the movement. My reasoning may be a little simplistic, but for me this means that the voting procedure used is in need of severe reform. When the opinion of a majority is consciously ignored, the official body concerned is in the firing line. I can’t see elections working that way anywhere else in society without resulting in riots.

The decision that has just been taken takes us back to medieval times in a country which proudly touts equal opportunities across the board. I presume that the Church of England  preaches tolerance, and abhors discrimination. The opposite would be concerning. The bible says that we are all equal before God, but apparently not before the possibility of preaching His word….. Much as I try, I cannot help thinking of George Orwell, who said in his novel “Animal Farm” that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

Society is evolving fast, and the word “evolution” now has its place in the church dictionary, after the Church of England revised its position on Darwin and his works with a written apology in 2008. Within this document, called Good Religion Needs Good Science, the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown proffers the following words of wisdom:

“People, and institutions, make mistakes and Christian people and churches are no exception. When a big new idea emerges which changes the way people look at the world, it’s easy to feel that every old idea, every certainty, is under attack and then to do battle against the new insights”.

He’s right, although in this context I consider equality to be a fundamental right, not a new idea. General Synod, for the moment you are not only behind on schedule, you are back-pedalling in a world where clinging on to the debris of the comfortingly familiar is no longer possible. All the women who have played a role in their Church and their parish have been slapped across the face and put in their places: apparently, well below men. I’m not sure that they are happy to limit their contributions to wearing a broad-brimmed flowery hat and making cakes for tea time at the vicarage. In any case, I hope not.

Which brings me back to our old Henry, buried in St Georges chapel.  He can rest in peace: although the Church he created no longer tolerates that anyone cuts off women’s heads, it still apparently maintains the right to axe their future in the clergy.

I’ll leave you with this charming little ditty, written by CBBC for children….