Sunday, 31 January 2016


As I sat in my pew yesternoon, watching as the other queens came in with their male partners and thinking about one, an old acquaintance who, outside the chapel, had looked me up and down and turned away, I couldn't help but be reminded of this scene from The Naked Civil Servant (starting at about 6:52). "Certainly no friends among my own kind," said Mr Crisp.

Saturday, 30 January 2016


A simple bishop. This painting, bl. William Laud's most famous likeness, is by van Dyck. Of all other van Dyck portraits that I have seen, the sitters have invariably been depicted against a background symbolic of their political and religious values. The martyred Archbishop is presented here as a man of "noble simplicity," as the saying goes; no artificiality, no pretence. And most importantly of all, not a bit of poncy lace in sight.

This is in stark contrast to what I saw in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace this morning, in which the commemorations of King Charles I (thirteen days too early) were read out by a man not only facing the wrong way but dripping in so much lace ornamentation as to justify almost every charge made by "the godly," that is the Puritans, against the Arminians. Sat on my right was an idiot reading from a 1961 breviary with a prayer card of John Henry Newman (which itself raises a number of liturgical and ecclesial questions), and on my left in the sanctuary was being simulated a popish high Mass, which we were told was in accord with the 1637 Book of Common Prayer. Maybe there are a few elderly Tory monarchists there who fell for the line but I wasn't one of them. Who do they think they're kidding? The 1637 Prayer Book contains a fine anaphora, which wasn't used, and neither the rite nor the aesthetic would have been familiar to Laud or to King Charles. But for the superb sermon, preached by the Vicar of Hampstead, I went away thoroughly peeved.

Two things made me laugh to-day. One was a "tradition," putatively dating to the reign of King Charles I himself, of sitting the women on the right of the choir and the men on the left...yes, that does seem rather odd. Before we were allowed entry to the chapel one of the ushers mentioned this tradition and said that any of us young men accompanying young women would do well to split up in deference to that tradition. My comment that few, if any, of the young men in attendance to-day would be accompanied by a young woman was wasted upon the usher, but it made the man standing next to me laugh. The other was when the dean welcomed us to Hampton Court and said that it was difficult to conceive of another chapel in Christendom, save, perhaps, St Peter's in Rome, with so venerable a tradition. I laughed and thought that whether or not St Peter's in Rome was even a church was debatable.

I don't think I'll bother going next year.

UPDATE: I've just double-checked the "principal objects of the Society [of King Charles the Martyr]," and it's a good job historical liturgical accuracy isn't mentioned as one of those aims because, based on what I saw this morning (and previous years, which I have tolerated with grinding teeth), it's clear none of them give a crap and are more interested in aping 20th century Roman praxis. I mean, if these people asked themselves what King Charles, Archbishop Laud and his contemporaries were trying to maintain, and to promote, in the Church of England they'd probably discover, if they looked seriously, that it wasn't cheap lace and birettas but the high liturgical standard set by the Prayer Book authorised for use at the time. Not that Anglo-Catholics are too fussed about the Prayer Book!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Down and out...

I probably shouldn't have done this but as I stood at the roadside waiting for a green light the other day I fumbled for my phone. You see, standing next to me was Old Smoky, the nickname my father has given to Crayford's local bum. When the green light came, I hesitated, let him walk out first, and then took a quick photograph. We walked to an island; he went the other way (towards the carpark bench he so often visits), I went towards Sainsburys. I watched him walk to his bench and sit down, then I went my way. I have been watching him for some months now. I am fascinated by his routine, his hardiness and almost benevolent countenance. Like Tolkien's "holy tramp" (see his letters, no.89), he reminds me of the statue of St Joseph in the church. One night recently, with temperatures some six degrees below freezing, I was actually concerned for his well being and wondered where he spent the nights.Why, do you suppose, am I so drawn to him? I am not drawn to all the tramps that I have seen. One evening some years ago, at a dingy church in Covent Garden to which I was accustomed to go every Monday, I witnessed, with staggered disbelief, a tramp urinating in a corner. I was repulsed on the nights after a performance at the Royal Opera House seeing an obvious syndicate of con artists dressed in rags and begging for money on the Strand. And I resented being asked for money by a forceful young Slavic woman on Victoria Street. But Old Smoky is different. He never begs. If somebody decides to sit at his bench, he will just move on. He is resigned to his life the way it is and, looking at him, I see less a gangrel and a wastrel, yea more, a fellow traveller to the grave, as I have heard it said.

I think this fascination with vagrants comes of a desire to, in a sense, obviate the kind of personal failures I feel in myself. I couldn't help thinking, as Old Smoky ambled off to his bench, "there but for my father's grace go I!" But there is more; a general interest in Old Smoky's choice of lifestyle, or the circumstances that made that choice for him. Like many of you, I have read George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London," which is a fascinating book. Orwell spent his days among the tramps of the cities, shared in their petty concerns, shared their cigarettes, drank the bitter brew with them in the kips and spikes. At first he was morally outraged at their plight and the food thrown out in the Salvation Army kitchens that could well be "given to the poor," a trite phrase so often invoked by the ignorant and the left, but he was swiftly reprimanded by a more experienced tramp who said that if they made the food too pleasant, the scum of the earth would flock thither in droves. "They're scum, just scum," he said. It's interesting to understand the pecking order among the tramps. This one certainly didn't consider himself to be one in the eyes of God, which reminds me of that stave from Tolkien's "Mythopoeia:"

"Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned."

And so he carried on. As Orwell says: "His body might be in the spike, but his spirit soared far away, in the pure aether of the middle classes." This seems to be a reflection of the exile we all feel, under the aegis of Original Sin. We may hate the circumstances of our life but, as old Algund, an outlaw, piously hoped in The Children of Húrin, "he may bring us home in the end." I sometimes wonder if Old Smoky feels this. He seems to have all the time in the world for reflection but I don't know how educated he is. Reflection does seem to be an ageing tendency; wisdom, a noble forehead and silver hair, booby prizes all.

If I boast of anything it would be the finest collection of dust south of the River! I can't remember why those screws are there but the white patch is where I keep my electric razor. I think "cleanliness is godliness" was a Protestant maxim, soundly to be rejected. Personally, I see being over scrupulous about cleaning as a form of luxuria or decadence.

There is also my fascination with Quentin Crisp, a man notorious for shirking the rigours of domestic ritual. Of all people, it was my father who introduced me to Mr Crisp. He said when I was about fourteen or fifteen, half in jest but probably with some conviction too: "you remind me of Quentin Crisp." At the time it just seemed an unusual name. But then I read The Naked Civil Servant at a time when I could read nothing else and it was just the tonic. One of the things that impressed me most about Quentin Crisp was a question put to him in a "World in Action" programme from 1971, even so:

Interviewer: "Quentin, you told me about an argument you had with a drunk in the street, and he said: 'you mean you go with men for money?' And your reply was: 'well, possibly!' Does that mean that you've been a male prostitute?"
Mr Crisp: "Yes, I've been a male prostitute. And this worries people; prostitution in general worries people. And I can't understand this because, to me, the only excuse that you can find for the disgrace of sex is that there might be money in it! Otherwise, it's a wanton form of self-enjoyment. You know what you know who [pointing up] thinks about happiness. You've got to be able to explain it in some way. But whatever is done for money is sacred."

This encapsulates my own view of sex. But there was also something ascetic about Mr Crisp. In later life, he was chaste; ate very little, never drank alcohol, had no money, no culture, nothing. Another thing that attracts me to Mr Crisp is his cynical, but humorous, view of life. As a friend of his said of a play or short story he wrote: "I wish you hadn't made every line funny. It's so depressing!" It was Mr Crisp who described life in the form of an analogy of a tightrope, which I quoted here. "It will come to an end, and when it does, we shall be free." A lesson for people who enjoy this life, I daresay. It could almost be a roundabout way of quoting St John, "except ye hate the world," and so on.

Also of note, albeit I enjoy them considerably less (most likely because they're women and have therefore a "witch" aspect), are Big and Little Edie, two American socialites who went from riches to squalor, whose lives were documented in a film named for their dilapidated mansion in East Hampton, Grey Gardens. Many people who watched that film probably did so out of morbid curiosity, pity, scorn, or a combination of those things. I watched it out of genuine interest. The ladies lived in a bedroom full of cat crap. They spent their days bickering over trivial things, resentful remembering, singing snatches of 1930's popular musick, and eating ice cream. Meanwhile their many cats defecated over the house, badgers invaded their attic, and the building generally crumbled to ruin around them. They were cut off from the rest of their rich family and, their bickering notwithstanding, needed each other in a very profound way. It's a story of true love, despite wealth, family, influence, even sanitation. I'm sure you can find Grey Gardens (and the recent theatrical remake) on YouTube.

All of these down and outs have lived isolated lives. They have been shunned by most people for one reason or another; they stink, they have a peculiar appearance, pick whichever one you like, it doesn't matter. But like the contrarian, I think there is something sacred about the outcast, the remnant. In some ways, they seem far closer to the Gospel than the crowd, the mob, the great unwashed. I can't help but recall what Christ said about the lion lying down with the lamb. We're all sinners but it seems to me that the ones suffering the worst opprobrium in this life seem the more in need of salvation, and might actually be saved. Perhaps that's why I feel this kinship with them?

Do say a prayer for Old Smoky.

Friday, 22 January 2016

What went wrong with the West?

Another fine article by Fr. Andrew over at Orthodox England. I think he underestimates the influence of Enlightenment Jews upon the latter history of Western Europe but he is absolutely right about the ideology of the so-called "holy Roman empire," and the belligerent popes who would make conquest of the Church. The only hope for the West now is Holy Russia, so vilified by the metropolitan elite and embroiled lately in yet another controversy. As the Irish entreated St Patrick in antient times, so I entreat Russia to come and save us. Save us from the tyranny of evil men, and from the tyranny of sin! Save us from the sins of schism and heresy! Save us from Jews, from neo-pagans and sodomites! Save us from Popery! "Pour out thine indignation upon the heathen that have not known thee; and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy Name!" Ps.79:6.


I wasn't going to comment upon this because living, as I do, in Puritania, the most northerly region of coldest Cranmeria, I do not think about liturgy anymore. Strange for a liturgical fetishist, eh? But that's not entirely true. If I think about liturgy at all these days, it's usually in the form of going into an old Anglican church in the country and going over an old, suppressed Latin sequence in my mind or perhaps trying to remember a few lines from the Prophets about healing Babylon, but she is not healed; or the whole of Isaiah chapter three. So I greeted the news of pope Francis's decree secularising the ceremony of the Mandatum with my accustomed apathy. I am actually amazed to find myself agreeing with Dr Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, that this is just a step, and not an altogether significant one, upon the path taken long ago by Rome away from Tradition. Of course, I would go further than Dr Shaw and say that this was inevitable the day Maxima Redemptionis came into force almost sixty years ago; a process analogous to the regress of Marriage in secular society from, at least in this formerly United Kingdom, being defined by The Book of Common Prayer in an explicitly Christian way, through no-fault divorce and subsidised fatherless families, down into the dregs of "redefinition" altogether. If the cherished ritual of the washing of the feet had not undergone such a revolution sixty years ago then this decree would have a significance beyond Francis' accustomed arbitrariness. It doesn't.

The traditional liturgical books used to prescribe "pauperes," who were, in the 20th century at any rate, presumably the less better-off male members of a parish or, aforetime, the peasants living in the vicinity of a cathedral church. "Viri," which means something quite different, only came in with the new ritual, as did the reduction to twelve, rather than thirteen, men. The pasting of the ceremony of the washing of the feet into the Mass of the LORD's Supper is also an innovation, having no warrant in Scripture, and a tendency of 20th century reformers to incorporate as much as possible into a eucharistic context (c.f the rite of Confirmation). Not to mention the bogus interpretation postulated by some traddies that the washing of the feet has some episcopal, or priestly prerogative. Upon such an anti-Evangelical basis, what could you expect from modern Rome but a complete capitulation to the pernicious, worldly doctrines of inclusion and diversity? There are no distinctions worthy of ontological significance anymore so objection to this innovation is just going to be derided as phony outrage. Men, women, old, young, sick, hale, Jew, Christian; we're all the same, really; we're all equal, aren't we?

Of course, what needs to happen now is the re-abrogation of the 1962 missal. Will Francis do this within Ratzinger's stale lifetime? He might not, but then he might. I doubt Ratzinger really cares about traditionalists and their bastard rite. I mean, he never once took part in an "extraordinary form" celebration as pope, and it's highly unlikely that he does now in his dotage.

I can't help but think of the emperor Nero, who legend has it fiddled as the City burnt to the ground. With Francis' constant undermining of what's left of the tradition so cheaply discarded by his predecessors...and for what? To maintain a veneer of credibility in the modern world? To sate his textbook liberal agenda? Anyway...I can honestly see him smiling that saccharine smile as some bloodthirsty fanatic cuts off his head in St Peter's Square before hordes of esteemed Muslim brethren crying Allahu Akbar. I won't mourn.

Once again I can only repeat my urgent invitation to President Putin, the new Constantine, to invade and annex us and to send out the Orthodox clergy to save the remnant of orthodox Western Christians beset on all sides, that the bough cast off might be grafted into the Tree once more. The West has failed.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Scarcity value...

Not a day goes by when I do not struggle to comprehend why to-day so many men are effeminate and so many women are butch, and yet you know that they are not queer (some of the time). Quentin Crisp wrote extensively of this phenomenon, at least among men, in his writings, saying that the kind of Carnaby Street attire that he had adopted in his youth to express his sexual type had now become national costume for all young people, and he observed this not without a sense of resentment. I feel this myself, in a way. For example, my father once told me that there are only two kinds of men who wear ear rings: gypsies and pansies. I've never had any part of my body pierced; I have no desire to look like a farm animal or an harlot. But now we see that all manner of piercings are increasingly popular among young people, not to mention the reprehensible fashion for tattoos. Fashion is dangerous because there is danger in numbers. People, that is persons in significant number, are stupid, tribal, assent to conventional wisdom without question and follow the one person, or small group, with the most forceful personality; the latter embodying power and the former in fear of or craving it. This is the essence of fashion and conformity, as I understand it: a powerful, but small, elite sets the fashion and the great masses just conform. How is that not tyrannous? By contrast, an individualist, like me, lives life according to the law of scarcity value, and everything in this world is subject to that law. There is only one of me, and you cannot reduce me to a set of influences! Of course, as a contrarian my life is made that much more difficult by the inexorable opprobrium of those same masses. When we face each other over the gulf that divides us I am reminded of the words of Gandalf (a type of reverent memory and true faith) to Saruman (a type of this world): "Understand one another? I fear I am beyond your comprehension. But you, Saruman, I understand now too well." Apropos, I said at the beginning that I struggled to comprehend. This is only the difficulty in understanding why someone would choose lies over truth, and tyrannous ugliness over high beauty, not that they make that choice and the contributory factors that inform that choice. But I digress.

Many, if not most, of the idols of fashion, of beauty, of popular culture and musick, &c. are themselves just sheep; tools of an unseen, unknown force for conformity in this world. I am reminded of that young man, about whom I have written before, Christian Collins, or "WeeklyChris." Straight as a die but, by my father's standards, a complete pansy potter, or "poseur," as he would say in his assiduous way. Now, Chris has his good points. While he is not altogether bright (for a Canadian, he knows less about Canadian history than me), he was shrewd enough, and independent enough, to recognise that YouTube could be the stimulant for a very lucrative career at a very young age. As such, he hasn't done a day's real work in his life, but, at the tender age of 19, is already better off financially than you or me. He also seems genuine, and in good faith, by nature. Eponymously he describes himself as a believer, which basically means liberal protestant, but, at the risk of lapsing into judgement, I think that his values, his manner of dress, grooming, his obvious love of himself, the fact that he seems to want to be famous, and even his taste in music (he was recently photographed at a "One Direction" concert) are incompatible with Christianity. He is inextricably worldly, and I don't just mean wise with the wisdom of this world (that is to say, the quality of being shrewd or "street smart"), but completely up-to-date, unquestioning acceptance of secularism; blind acceptance of what he sees because he knows, still less can conceive of, no different. I daresay he would reject my worldview as just plain "weird" and the rigours of Orthodoxy as superfluous. He is also, by the standards of traditional masculinity in my own understanding, rather effeminate. He wears skinny jeans, he has blonde highlights in his styled hair; I saw a photograph (which has since been taken down) of him having his nails buffed; and so on. He clearly takes a lot of trouble over his appearance, a tendency which reminds me of Christ's rebuke of the Pharisees that "make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess." He is also very charming, and, while I would usually take Wilde's position over his adversaries, I very much agree with the Lord Queensbury when he said: "Men aren't supposed to be charming," or something like that.

Before he started focusing on his career in pop music (mostly covers of the latest in modern noise), Chris was accustomed to make self-help videos for losers, such as "how to have self-confidence," and "how to deal with hate."

In typical pseudo-profundity, Chris enunciates many trite quips about life goals, taking no notice of criticism, and just being yourself. On this last point I would ask him in all seriousness whether he considers himself to be truly himself. Of course, for somebody so well-adjusted and confident that does seem a ridiculous question. And so the answer would probably be in the affirmative, but with the qualification that, as a burden assiduously avoided, he has accepted an identity presented to him by others; that is, by his peers at school, by his rôle models, the masters of fashion and conformity in our culturally-magnificent time. To the extent that he is himself, therefore, depends largely upon what colour hoodie to wear out as opposed to, say, giving up on the Gregorian Kalendar.

Of course, Christian Collins is just one of this wicked and adulterous generation. I suppose what I envy most about him...please don't let on to me that you haven't noted in this catty post an undertone of his capacity for happiness. The smile on his face is undoubtedly the fruit of true happiness, which itself probably proceeds from his innocence. With the overmastering burden of knowledge, of sin, and contempt of the world comes a sense of exile (surely a good sign?), of weariness as with a great burden, and oft resentment. This may seem psychopathic but sometimes I look at humanity with heartfelt loathing; looking, as it were, from men to pigs and from pigs to men and failing to tell them apart. Apart from the multiculturalism thrown in my face whenever I go out, it's one of the reasons I avoid leaving the house.

This is me this very evening, just for comparison you understand. I'm sure many of you are reminded of Oliver Cromwell's most famous portrait, "warts and all." Wrapped in a tatty old cardigan, and sometimes even half-cut, I write my posts and live my life.

I understand that this post began well and drifted off. The question, which I completely failed to answer, will be addressed in the next post.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Khazars...

I recently found this on YouTube. I have watched it twice and it seems fair and even to me, with recourse to direct sources and little hint of prejudice. The video was made by American protestants, polar opposites of John Hagee, Ted Pike and his late wife. The video is worth watching for its succinctness and erudition, and it posits many theories about the Jews, their origins and mission, that I hold myself. For my valued Russian readers, now by far outnumbering my British and American audience, the most interesting stuff is about twenty-five minutes in; Karl Marx, and so on.

Friday, 8 January 2016

My Christmass Day...

I went to Sourozh for liturgy on Christmass. To put it mildly: expecting Miranda and I was greeted by Caliban! I thought, being so principal a feast, that the Metropolitan would be greeted by the clergy at the west doors, there might be two deacons, &c. What actually took place was a "missa cantata," with one priest and deacon, and the Metropolitan turning up to administer communion and deliver a brief sermon, in a tongue not understanded of the people, or at least this person. I checked the cathedral website and it seemed that they had tacked on an episcopal liturgy to the vigil the night before. Almost I departed in wrath but as I had traveled the two hours across town to attend and it was raining hard outside, I stayed, but I made sure not to part with any of my money at the collection. I confided this to a friend of mine who said that Sourozh have been doing this strange "midnight mass" for some years now. It must be some strange new fashion in Moscow, like red vestments on Easter.

Afterwards I took the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden as I would fain take my Christmass lunch in my favourite French restaurant. I went into the opera terrace whereupon I discovered the place was boarded up. Using my not-very-Puritan iPhone I looked the restaurant up and it seemed that they had closed in December for a major redevelopment, with no indication that it would re-open at some future date. By now thoroughly peeved and cold, I walked to Maiden Lane. I decided that I couldn't afford Rules so I ended up in an Italian restaurant in Villiers Street. For a weekday afternoon the restaurant was very busy, so I was sat next to a woman in a tracksuit who spent at least half an hour shouting down her phone at someone about the kind of stuff Jerry Springer makes a living of. I asked the waitress to move but that made little difference. She left presently and I couldn't help thinking how expendable such people's lives are. I would have been much better off in Rules.

But it wasn't all bad. When I got home my mother had bought me a hamper. So we had Prosecco with our dinner and lots of sweet things to nibble, and another Christmass pudding. At least I wasn't let down by my family this Christmass.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Merry Christmass!

If Old Father Christmass visited my hometown to-day I'm sure he would be reminded of those unhappy Puritan towns, shewing no token of holyday, that he saw during the grievous years of rebellion and tyranny in the 17th century. Where I have decanted a fine port, salvaged some (cheaply-bought!) mince tartlets from Waitrose, and put on a modest spray of festive holly, everybody else is busy taking down their decorations and getting back to normal with their false "new year." Public services and shops will operate as normal to-day and the children are all back to school. Surely the Gregorian Kalendar is the greatest single monument to the schismatic nature of the Papacy in modern times?

But I am keeping Christmass. Therefore I wish all my readers every temporal and spiritual blessing on this dearest of feasts.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:8-14.

Sunday, 3 January 2016


The commemoration of the martyrdom of bl. King Charles ye Martyr will NOT this year take place at the Banqueting House in Whitehall due to conservation works. Instead, by kind invitation of the Chaplain, Fr Anthony Howe, the commemoration and Mass will take place in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. Details can be read on the Society website here.

Friday, 1 January 2016

"Do you celebrate anything?" She asked...

Someone asked me at work the other day what I'd be doing for "new years." To press the point of my absolute rejection of this pagan custom, I said: "a glass of warm milk and an early night." She is one of those kindly, innocent types who tries to see the best in everyone and perhaps thinks, contrary to what she might say, that her worldview is the best for everyone. So I could tell that she had become frustrated by this, whereupon she asked whether I actually celebrated anything or went out anywhere. Quentin Crisp would have said wryly: "the answer is no!" I stupidly tried to explain about the Julian Kalendar; about how we tend to count the seasons from Spring rather than the middle of Winter; how December is the tenth month, and so on. But it was no use. She just said, after a pause: "oh...well, everyone's different!"

I have nothing really profound to add to this story, which is not very different from any other such encounter, other than to observe that sometimes it's very hard being the outsider.

"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:19.