View from the Pew
BY JAKE THACKRAY
THE. FEAST OF THE Epiphany, don't you think, is one of the great enlightening feasts in the calendar of our church: the Epiphaneia the sudden flashlight of insight into the meaning of something we were in the dark about before.
I get the epiphanies so very seldom and am so often in the dark that I understand the feelings of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar when they arrived at Bethlehem and realised what was really going on.
In order to try to find out what is really going on in the world, I read things.
I read beer mats, Weetabix packets, jam labels, the King James' Authorised Version. I read Tolstoy and John Dos Passos and Readers' Digest; also I read people's T-shirts back and front. I read Thomas-a-Kempis, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas A Tank Engine, any old Tom will do so long as I get an epiphany..
Every day I read the Times. This is a good paper to buy, especially on the days when it has so many supplements and free offers you need an abdominal truss to lug it home.
There is a lot to read and afterwards you can line so many tallboy drawers with it and light lots of fires. Also, the Times is full of mysteries and puzzles. But no epipha
The chess problem is tricky and can keep our household mystified for weeks.
On the back page there is a word test which always baffles us, eg: Partlett is that a) mother hen? b) a cod-piece c) a neck covering? This always stops our breakfast table in its tracks.
"Mummy, what is a codpiece? ....Really! Daddy show us yours." My children want their epiphanies too.
The crossword is witty and elegant (18 down:"Pas Pa?" 10 Get it? We got it after a week and then lined a tallboy drawer with it and lit a .big fire.
The Nature Notes has its mysteries too ("... and the greenshank steps delicately on slender legs and when startled rises to the sky thrice yodelling...")?
But the very best puzzles in the Times are found in the Court Circular and Social. This chronicles the daily doings of our Royals and the
Births, Engagements, Marriages, Deaths and Wills of our Betters. It is a page I have never had an epiphany from. And to tell you the
truth, I am bloody glad I haven't. I may be a puzzled man about most things but I know horse droppings straightaway.
I was riffling through my socks the other day searching for a pair to match the nifty pair of trousers I was planning to sport and I uncovered this item in the tallboy drawer liner (I read drawers as well) "The Right Rev John Beckersteth had the honour of being received by the Queen and took leave upon relinquishing his appointment as Clerk to the Closet. Mrs Legge-Burke was in attendance."
I dropped my trousers. Another Times puzzle eh? What do they mean by a closet, down there in London? And why is a Right Reverend clerking it? Is this Beckersteth an out-of-work bishop who sits at a venerable desk by the palace clothes cupboard? A cushy number that. Or does he maybe ledger those Hons. and Rt Hons. who are gay and coming out of closets? Not so cushy.
Does he hang around the royal bogs and log how many times they go? By Appointment) And Mrs Legge-Bourke
attends to the ladies' side of things?
I did not understand what was going on this newspaper page. I could not epiphanise.
I moved another sock and read on. "The Princess Royal visited the Wakefield Citizens' Advice Bureau at 27 King Street." Bought a dicky hoover did she, and wants to know how to sue?
Under another sock is a chink of an obituary: "...Anton Nilsson, the last man to be sentenced to death in Sweden has died, 81 years after that judgement was passed, aged 101".
Good Lord! What were these Swedish executioners doing all these years? Boring him to death? I finally settled for the powder blue kneelength pair and lurking underneath them there was this: "The engagement is announced between Captain Ian David Kept, the Queen's Regiment, and Major-General Helle Kristjansen, Royal Danish Lifeguards." Startled, I rose into the sky, thrice yodelling. It really was time to put my trousers on and go.
Unlike those three weary, faithful, holy men who finally arrived at the place where Our Lord was born and had their sudden glorious insight, their grand epiphany, I am not wise about what is going on in our Times. t