The Flange archive contains many examples of his regular communications with his parishioners.
23 November, 1890
I'm sure, like myself, you and your loved ones are starting to make your preparations for what some killjoys (Fabians, members of the Popular Front For the Liberation Of The Working People Of Barrow - that lot) choose to call 'Winterlude' and yet what I steadfastly cling to as the seasonal time of cheer and goodwill beloved of us all, high or low, young or old. Yes, it's Christmas time again! Thank God we're English!
As I make my way around town at this time of year I am reminded of the proximity of forthcoming celebrations. Here's my seasonal list that tells me its time to deck the boughs and ding my dong merrily on high!
•We welcome back to town the cheery street hawkers offering their overpriced tat and novelty items along the narrow walk-ways of the Portlande Strides.
•We delight in the happy shrieks of children being bounced on the knees of drunken pensioners dressed as Santa in the grotto of Stubble's Toy Treasury.
•We enjoy the raucous calls and banter of the vendors of the indoor market attempting to outdo one another in the displays of their fine plum puddings and assorted fancy goods.
•We are charmed by the garrulous gangs of carol singers hawking their blackened lungs on street corners prior to belabouring our ears with heart-wrenching versions of 'It'll Be Lonely This Christmas'.
•We are slightly disturbed by the sight of drunken riveters falling out of pubs at 3 o'clock in the afternoon having sunk the contents of the Christmas club.
•And, of course, we're touched by the annual Christmas lights around the Town Hall - more of this later!
However, a note of caution here to those of you who have taken the spirit of Christmas very much to your hearts and who have decided to adorn the outsides of your houses, tenements, cellar dwellings or hovels with illuminated scenes of the nativity. Whilst such colourful displays do much to enlighten the dark winter evenings they should never be at the expense of basic home safety. There have already been a number of conflagrations resulting in serious injury and even death. I would hardly need remind you of the already appalling levels of child mortality in the town.
Whilst on the subject of your cheery decorations (and mindful that some of you find it inappropriate to bring religion into your Yule celebrations) I cannot resist drawing attention to a point of theology and remind you that the themes of such displays should attempt to be as faithful as possible to the nativity narrative. I have therefore asked the local constabulary to consider a prosecution, for blasphemy, of those people behind the extravagant fresco outside a dwelling on Bath Street depicting Jimmy Shin as the baby Jesus accepting gifts from numerous 'big league' managers dressed as shepherds and Kings. We need to accept that the 'Ricket-Rocket' of Holker Street is now very much an Athletico Millom man, and move on. Confusing a bandy-legged No.9 with the son of God isn't helping any of us, is it?
Moving on! A very big 'thank you' to everyone who was able to attend the ceremonial switching-on of the Yuletide gas lights along Duke Street last week. It was a great pity that the Harry Houdini tribute act booked to 'flick the switch' (as they say at Alcatraz) had been beaten senseless the previous evening by a dissatisfied crowd in Carlisle. Nevertheless, our very own Doogie Thistle and his dancing troupe 'The Strictly Rat Worrier Five' kept us all entertained through the long hours whilst Amos Tremelo and his team of technicians from the local Board of Works did their best to locate the gas blockage that delayed ignition well beyond midnight.
One final piece of sad news to pass on to you. At Preston Assizes yesterday, my housekeeper, Eliza Trotsky, was sentenced to 8 weeks hard labour following her conviction for assault on the person of Alderman Horace Ditch. Please remember her in your prayers.
During her absence, I am pleased to be able to tell you that Miss Clarissa Nimrod will be helping me with general administrative duties around the vestry and has some fascinating ideas to share with us for how best to celebrate Christmas. I'm sure you will all await the next parish letter with baited breath!