Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Chimney pots but no smoke

No white smoke from Dunoon, but a tale of five chimneys - or rather, five Victorian chimney pots, the organist, and the organist's wife.

Yesterday, as the candidates for the post of Rector here were shown round the church and rectory, we noticed that the builders working on the roof had removed the massive chimney pots and set them in a row in the back garden. Now, it is a fact that these pots are much prized around these parts - indeed, the one that survived from our own chimney now stands in my garden with a small thyme bush growing in the top of it, and very ornamental it is too. It is a sadder fact that such objects left untended around these parts will be nicked - especially if no-one seems to be around.

It was decided, therefore, that the pots should be moved into what was once the coal-hole at the rear of the rectory. Now, for reasons I'm not going into, it came about that Mr B was unable to meet one of the three able-bodied men in the congregation at the hour appointed for this bit of heavy lifting, and rather than leave them out for another night he and I decided we would do the deed ourselves. As the light faded this afternoon, we headed for the back of the rectory - the very place where those entrusted with choosing our new incumbent were still closeted with the Dean. We crept inconspicuously up the slimy bank. The pots sat there, dauntingly large, at the top of the back green. We laid hands on the first one. The top of it turned out to be in two parts, the outer of which moved disconcertingly. Our hands were already covered in a noxious mix of soot and green slime, but we began to manhandle the brute towards the door, rotating it over the soggy grass.

I can't keep it up, this blow-by-blow account, but must hasten to the good bit that didn't quite happen. By the third pot I had hit on the brilliant idea of letting it topple onto its side and rolling it down the slight incline to just beside the step of the coal-hole. By the fourth, I was feeling bolder: the pots really moved quite rapidly if you helped them with a shove. But I have to tell you, Best Beloved, that the fourth pot almost got away. And if it had, it'd have careered down the bank and into the unfamiliar green car that presumably belonged to the Dean. So picture, if you will, the organist and his lady wife, doubled up in mirth, diving to restrain a slimy Victorian chimney pot while smothering hoots of laughter like a pair of naughty weans.

I have to report that a coffee-seeking church official saw us and opened the door, and that the chimney pots are now safely locked away with the dwindling supply of parish booze. But where, pray, will the white smoke come from?


  1. I am unable to refrain from saying "Cor lum-me!"

  2. Shades of the chimney pots in 'Busman's Honeymoon', although those were in Hertfordshire rather than Dunoon ..

  3. What a delightful image you have painted, Chris! Oh, to have been there to actually see this....

  4. I'd forgotten all about the chimney pots in Busman's Honeymoon - maybe I shall re-read Dorothy Sayers!

    ABF - your wit, as usual, makes me snigger.

    Katya - had you been there, we'd have roped you in to help!

  5. We are still itching to know if there is white smoke!
    - not least those of us who could not make the interview date!

    I has been all gain however; I found your blogs as a result of my application!

  6. Nebuly - interesting name! Still no official smoke, though tendrils escape now and then. We're at the Disclosure stage now ... and that, my friends, is all I'm supposed to know!

  7. I wish you every blessing and hope that things go form strength to strength.

    Nebuly - in honour of the Nebuly Coat
    'the arch never sleeps'

    Do please keep blogging