News and views from the heart of England - Issue 4    © David Smith 2018

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Dark ages?


Novice members of the Union of Monks are angry. The UM is complaining that priory management is refusing to introduce new technology. Monasteries have always been places of great innovation and invention, they claim, and union members are always willing to take on new working practices in the interests of economy and improved efficiency. They maintain that management is terminally resistant to change, insisting on outdated methods and unfashionable habits.

UM members are threatening to boycott Vespers and Compline, and to stage work-to-rule protests during Lauds and Midday Prayer. If necessary, they say, a series of one-day strikes will be held on the third Sunday of each month, and Lent will be cancelled.

Our reporter spoke to Brother Crow, the senior UM shop-steward at Plugborough Priory. “We are not wanting to cause any trouble?”, he said. He spoke in that modern way of appearing to ask questions when he was really just make statements, an annoying affectation he probably picked up from watching travelling players at annual fairs and jousting tournaments. “We just want to make sure all our members get the best deal in this century’s pay round? And the opportunity to maximise our chances of advancement?”

Brother Crow went on to explain their predicament. He said that Novices have to pass a set of oral and written exams and prayer intonations to become fully qualified monks, and that these are all carried out under strict vows of silence and demanding time limits. “We need to know how long we have to complete each question or intone each prayer? And the only way we can do that is if we have a timepiece in the exam room?”

So why is there a problem? asked the reporter.

“Well, there are these new timepieces that have been invented in the Low Countries? You know, they have two sort of pointers that go round and round at different speeds on a numbered dial to indicate passage of minutes and hours? They’re called clocks, and it’s amazing technology? Really hi-tech? They would be perfect for us to have a quick glance at to see how much time we’ve spent on the exam, and how much is still to go before we have to put our quills down? But Brother Examiner won’t let us have one in the exam room? Management say they are the spawn of Lucifer, and they refuse to let us use them? They say we have to go on using those old-fashioned hourglasses? The ones where sand drops through a small hole? Who uses those things nowadays? It’s like living in the dark ages?”


Front page


GCHQ internal memo

Town Council meeting

Where is our vehicle?

Dark ages?

He won’t hurt you

TV Subtitles



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