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Volume XXVII, No. 23

Saturday, July 24, 1999             50p.

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Cuppa with Shirley
Ann's Letters
Simon's E-mail
Dining Room
House and Grounds
Site Map
Letters to the Editor
Storm Hits Puckerings, Damage Extensive
(see Church Struck, An 'Act of God?')
A mid-summer storm struck with violent force in the early morning hours, downing trees and powerlines and causing extensive damage to homes and businesses in both Upper and Lower Puckering.  Heavy rain, violent thunder and strong winds, clocked at over 90 kilometers per hour, battered the villages and surrounding countryside for nearly an hour before moving off to the southeast.    A spokesman for SouthDowns Electric indicated that 40,000 customers are without power, whilst British Telecom reports that some 35,000 households are without telephone service.

The storm left behind a trail of destruction in Puckering. "The eve of the best-kept village competition is soon upon us," cautions Colonel Bratherton. "We all need to pull together to set the village to rights. What's needed now is a touch of the Dunkirk spirit. The men of both villages need to come together and show what we are capable of."

Others saw more dark portents in the storm. 'It's a warning to change our evil ways and lax morals," said Eva Bailey who recently moved to Puckering from Great Moorah. Long-time local hermit, Frank Churchill, was more sanguine. "I don't think it means anything," he said. "Though I have visions of two horses and a goat,  who will follow the bees."-- Nigel Twicks

Puckering Profiles:  The Reverend L.N. Banks
The Reverend Banks clearly believes that if the mountain won't come to Mohammed then Mohammed must go to the mountain. "Nobody goes to the Church anymore," he laments. "It's a wonderful building, full of some of the most interesting details, but quite frankly, on a cold Sunday in February  I'd rather be elsewhere myself." That's why you can find the Reverend all around Puckering meeting his parishioners where he can. "God's house is all-encompassing. I go and watch the local cricket team, visit some of the elderly that can't get out much, stop into the Idiot for a half. Jesus wasn't afraid of socialising, you know."

Under his guidance, the church has recently sponsored a series of  fascinating programs, including lectures by noted misericord scholar Nigel Mannerly, nationally recognized mason Godfrey Clayburne, and our own Chester Vyse. "I hope to be able to bring more good words to bear on the importance of saving Puckering's church heritage," notes the Reverend, One should, after all, keep one's house in order."--Nigel Twicks

Church Struck, 'An Act of God'?
As storm clouds scuttled eastwardly in the early light of dawn, Reverend Nigel L. Banks stood beneath the dripping boughs of a sturdy beech beside the battered walls of the Upper Puckering Parish Church. He surveyed the wreckage of his ambitious restoration plan: the 14th-century steeple toppled and partially burned by lightning, a tangle of twisted scaffolding pulled away from the building by the violence of the winds. One errant length pierced the heart of St. Thomas in the stained glass rosette above the door of the sanctuary. 

In spite of the sight before him and the ungodliness of the hour, the Reverend exhibited his legendary good humour. "It's all a bit of a mess right now, to be sure, but we'll have it straightened out shortly.  What's important is that, miraculously, no one was hurt.  For that I am truly thankful."

Some might interpret the ferocity of the storm and its focused destruction on His house as an act of God, a notice of His displeasure with the worldliness of the restoration project itself.  Banks dismissed this view with a chuckle. "God doesn't give a toss about this church," he said with an emphatic shake of his head.   "There is war, famine, grinding poverty in the world. You'd expect Him to zap Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons, or the American White House if He were interested in that sort of thing.  No.  This project is about honouring our past, forging a stronger community, freeing the creative, beautiful side of the human spirit.  In this way we honour our Maker."

Reverend Banks was unable to comment on how the restoration schedule has been affected, but has already scheduled a tea-time meeting of the consulting architects for later today.   "If folks find it in their hearts to help us overcome this setback, they can send a donation to the Church office.  Of course some might prefer to head down to the Idiot," he added with a twinkle in his eye,"and raise a pint for us."--Lumpy Gaites


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