Vicar’s Window November 2019

Dear friends,

I can’t remember if I have put pen to paper about the subject of Brexit. The Eve of All Saints’ Day approaches and there seems to be little sign of Brexit actually happening.Whatever one’s viewpoint, I don’t think anyone is holding their breath.

Three things remain in my mind from the time of the referendum. The first was the day itself. I had never seen so many people coming out of their houses to cast their vote. There was an air of jubilation. At long last, a vote that seemed to count. In or out – that was it. It made me think that proportional representation could produce a similar response during a General Election. The second was the meeting of General Synod a few weeks later. This seemed to involve the two archbishops and the House of Bishops assuming that everyone in Synod had voted to remain. (Does this mean that they are out of touch with the country or that Synod members are out of touch or both?) The third was being knocked off my motorbike by a Dutchman only a few days after the vote – and in a left-hand drive car!

Since then there has been the relentless war of propaganda waged by the BBC, not least by the hand-picked bunch of comedians who seem to spend their time vilifying both Brexiteers and Christians. Slightly bizaarly, many Labour MPs have come out in favour of a general election and another referendum. I do wonder if they realise that the majority of Labour voters (certainly in Stoke on Trent) voted leave. Is it the case that the only Labour voters who matter are those who live in Islington and Hampstead? Let us also not forget that both main parties declared that they would respect the mind of the electorate.

I can’t help but wonder why there haven’t been riots and protests about the machinations of parliament during these past few years. I am sure that the French would have come out in their droves and the press coverage extensive. We simply moan into our warm beer and tea cups.

As I have written before, the problem for many of us who observe the deliberations of General Synod, the scenario is depressingly familiar. (Even the act of proroguing is a normal part of General Synod procedure.) Whenever a vote has been taken by synod on an issue which doesn’t have the support of the liberal intelligencia – it reappears within a short period of time. The ordination of women as priest and bishop had to be debated until the “right” answer emerged. No chance of further debate to ascertain the godliness of such decisions.

The truth is that many people are angry and frustrated. I detect that the next General Election will see people reluctantly turning away from the parties that they have supported in the past and either not voting at all or seeking the election of those who stand on a one issue ticket. Can you blame them? The danger is findng people in positions of authority and influence who will not be for the good of the country. I fear that the blame lies squarely with parliament and with those who decided to hold a referendum in the first place.

So let us wait and see – not least what may happen over the border if another independence referendum takes place.

Several people have mentioned to me that the country needs a Day of Prayer for Her Majesty the Queen and for her government. Perhaps someone needs to suggest this to the archbishops? Here is a possible prayer to be used…

Dear God, we pray that the people of this land may come to their senses and realise that the financiers and wielders of power and influence are the right people to make decisions for the good of the country and for the lining of their own pockets. We pray that we may only pay lip-service to democracy and not expect to put power into the hands of the electorate. We pray that those who voted leave may come to their senses and accept what is good for them, that is, the viewpoint of the minority. Amen.

Every blessing,

PS. I am a firm sitter-on-the-fence over the issue of remaining or leaving. It is the manipulation of people (and church communities) that bothers me.


It is with great sadness that I have to record the sudden death of Stephen Boulton, the founder of Arlington Funeral Services. (His advert is always on the back cover of this magazine.) Steve died of an heart-attack on Saturday 19th October at his family home in Wolstanton. Since setting up Arlington many years ago, I have had a great deal to do with Steve, not least, professionally. His establishment was (and is) a welcome stopping-off point between Leek and Burslem. Together with Tracey (his wife), Oliver (his son), and Malcolm (his side-kick) this was, and is, a truly family-run funeral business.

Steve directed a number of funerals at Sneyd Church and was present at my 25th anniversary of priesthood and on other occasions. We were also known to meet up at The Bull’s Head in Burslem on an early Friday evening. Steve would sometimes talk through problems (as did I) but mostly we sat and discussed and laughed. Both being mad about films, there was always plenty to talk about.

Steve’s funeral will be conducted by Father Andrew Swift at the church where Steve was baptised, S. Saviour’s Smallthorne on Tuesday November 5th at midday. Please keep him and his family (including mum, Chris, and son, William) in your prayers.
Father Brian


Perhaps more sadly for some of the Sneyd congregation, was the death of Rosemary Myers following a freak car accident on Tuesday 1st October. Rosemary and Father Paul’s vehicle was shunted from the front while they were packing goods in the boot. Paul sustained minor injuries while Rosemary suffered fatal heart failure.

I have known Rosemary for nearly fourty years when she and Paul were at Old Church, West Bromwich. (Paul was, like me, in his second curacy or apprenticeship.) Alice was three and I was present at George’s baptism. Later, when I arrived at the vicarage on High Lane in 1983, Rosemary arrived with a bunch of flowers and took me out for lunch at The Kismet (fully air-conditioned) restaurant in Burslem. Throughout her career in education and Paul’s ministry in various parishes, we have remained firm friends and Rosemary was equally a friend of this church. She always bought raffle tickets when the occasion demanded – and with only a little grizzling! We would discuss The Archers endlessly – and rake over the embers of respective fairs. Rosemary was both extremely clever and an endless source of amusement, both her observations and the situations she ended up in.

She was also a great devotee of OurLady’s Shrine at Walsingham and was an annual pilgrim together with other members of this congregation. Many people told me that they were the focus of votive candles offered in the shrine and the recipients of Marian prayer cards. Paul and Rosemary joined us for various other pilgrimages, including Holy Island and Santiago da Compostella.

Rosemary often attended major feast days at Holy Trinity although, being a Leek resident, she made her regular spiritual home All Saints in Compton. Requiem masses were offered here at Sneyd Church. (I am happy to offer a requiem for someone important to you. Don’t be afraid to ask and, indeed, find out what a requiem is.) Her body was received into All Saints church on the eve of her funeral requiem, which took place on Tuesday 15th October at midday. May she rest in peace and may Our Lady of Walsingham pray for her. We should do the same.
Father Brian

An additional note; Don’t forget to tell your next-of-kin that you expect to be brought into church on the eve of your funeral, and that a funeral requiem mass be a basic requirement. It is the Christian way of doing things.