Church Of The Week

The Church of England is wringing its hands about falling church numbers but here’s an idea, I give it gratis, that might have the congregations flocking back.

They could do worse than take a leaf out of the book of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky. They take their inspiration from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 18. In case you can’t immediately bring the passage to mind, and to save you the trouble of Googling it, it goes; “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.

And that is what they do.

Whilst the pastor preaches his sermon, he swings a rattlesnake around. For the congregation, there is the frisson of excitement as to whether the snake will get so pissed off with its unwanted participation in the service that it will bite someone.

And they do.

News reached me this week that Pastor Cody Coots, in mid flow, was bitten by an ungrateful snake. Pictures appeared on social media of Cody splattered in blood. He then asked his flock to take him to the mountain top where God would judge whether he lived or died. Unfortunately, someone misinterpreted his request and rushed him to hospital where Cody survived to tell the tale.

Perhaps God is a doctor.

He was a bit luckier than his Dad, Jamie Coots, who was also Pastor of the church. He was bitten by a snake in 2014 and died shortly afterwards. Snake handling churches have been in existence for a century or so in the Appalachians.

We should try it over here. Even I might turn up!

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Spoilsports Of The Week

It seems that at this time of the year all sense of reality goes out of the window.

News reached me this week that a stand in teacher has been fired from Cedar Hill School in Montville, New Jersey.

Her crime?

She told her class of six and seven-year-olds that Father Christmas didn’t exist. She was clearly on a roll because she went on to debunk elves, reindeers, tooth fairies, Easter bunnies and leprechauns.

And there was me thinking that part of the education process was coming to terms with unpalatable truths. Next thing you know they will be denying evolution.

I’m sure that all the teacher now wants for Christmas is her job back.

Santa Of The Week

It may not be a terribly fashionable thing to say in these days of gender fluidity but I have never given a nanosecond of thought to what sex Father Christmas should be.

I have always considered the white beard and the name was rather conclusive but not so in the Durham town of Newton Aycliffe. For the last 50 years or so on Christmas Eve Santa, played by a man, tours the town in a flatbed truck handing out sweets to the local children. A charming tradition, I’m sure you will agree.

But a debate broke out over the sex of Santa this year – it went to no higher an authority than the Council – after a woman offered to play the part of Father Christmas, with her husband driving the truck. A meeting of the full Council last week rejected the recommendation of a sub-committee that the part could be played by a woman.

At least some traditions remain unsullied by political correctness.

A Santa of a different sort caused a bit of a problem, I read this week, in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. A giant inflatable Father Christmas broke free from its moorings in a garden on the B198 Cromwell Road and blocked both lanes of the road, making it impassable for around 3.5 hours.

The police had to pop it before traffic could move.

Ah, the joys of Christmas!

Stunt Of The Week (5)

If you must use peanut butter, it is best to smear it over a piece of toast rather than your testicles, as this cautionary tale shows.

A 22-year-old-man, unnamed, was found lying in a pool of blood in his flat in Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. He was found to have what police described as a “significant injury to his groin area” and an English bulldog called Biggie, apparently named after the rapper Biggie Smalls, nearby with a satisfied grin over its chops.

On further investigation, the man was found to have smeared peanut butter on his genitals and Biggie presumably felt that a meal of meat and two veg with added condiment too much to resist.

The dog was put down, the man put into an induced coma for several days but, alas, his genitalia were not recovered for re-attachment.

Bet he won’t do that again!

Crime Of The Week (3)

What is more annoying; finding that the last page of a book is missing or someone giving away the ending of a story when you are half way through?

It takes a special sort of person to spend time in Antarctica. After a hard day’s working on scientific projects, there is very little to do other than read a good book.

Russian scientists, Sergey Savitsky and Oleg Beloguzov, have spent four years on the Bellinghausen station on Antarctica’s King George island. On 9th October, I read this week, Savitsky snapped and, allegedly, attacked his colleague with a kitchen knife, stabbing him in the chest in what is thought to be the first recorded incident of attempted murder on the icy continent.

Savitsky has been extradited to Russia whilst Beloguzov is recuperating in Chile.

The cause of the crime?

Investigators report that Beloguzov “kept telling his colleague the endings of books before he read them.

Being a book reviewer can be a dangerous pastime, it would seem.

Crime Of The Week (2)

Well, almost.

Six individuals, apparently armed, entered an e-cigarette shop in the suburbs of the Belgian town of Charleroi, I read this week.

After demanding that the shopkeeper hand over his takings, the enterprising Didier pointed out to the would-be thieves that it was only the middle of the afternoon and that if they came back at the end of the day, there would be far more money for them to take.

The dim wits duly left the shop and Didier rang the police who were unsurprisingly sceptical that the gang would return.

But they did, at 17.30.

Again, Didier pointed out that his shop hadn’t finished trading and if they would come back an hour later, there would be much more to take.

Astonishingly, they returned a third time at 18.30 by which time a plain-clothed policeman was in situ to apprehend them. Five had their collars felt, the sixth, who, perhaps, was not quite as dim as his colleagues, scarpered.

Talking of dim wits, take a bow, Lee Furlong, from Liverpool.

He thought it would be a good idea to spray some graffiti on an inviting blank red-bricked wall at the 800-year-old Tha Phae gate in Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Not only was he and his accomplice caught on CCTV and tracked down to their accommodation, the aptly named Mad Monkey hostel, but he demonstrated his illiteracy to the world by spraying “Scousse Lee”.

He could face up to ten years in chokey, long enough, perhaps, to learn to spell Scouse.