I wonder if anyone really expects a Rector to talk parish pump in an Annual Report for the year 2010, when that year involved six months away in England and Africa, remarriage and the attainment of retirement age. The year can be divided neatly into three. Preparing to go, being gone, coping with coming back!

Preparing to go was of course pleasurable because anticipation is as much an enjoyable part of any great event as the event’s actuality.

Being gone was wonderful in all sorts of ways not least because my treasured past, revisited in a nostalgia binge, took its sweet revenge by assuming marital proportions.

Coming back was a joy because Australia is a wonderful place to live and St Augustine’s is an appreciative family that it is good to be a part of and to show off to a new wife.

And that really is all I need to say.... except for this: 

                                                  RECTOR'S REPORT (2)

                                                             Each year a Rector’s asked to give

                                                                       an "Annual Report",

                                                             Which by and large is dull, immodest,

                                                                       the sermonising sort. 


                                                             Pretending that the parish grows,

                                                                       and goes from strength to strength,

                                                             A lie the which to propagate

                                                                       he'll go to any length.

                                                             In which himself he justifies

                                                                       applauds, defends, excuses,

                                                             Laying any blame that's due

                                                                       on others he accuses.

                                                             While he's a paragon of virtue,

                                                                       who’s called by God to come

                                                             To be deferred to, preach and teach

                                                                       (while idling on his bum).

                                                             Such reports are not my scene,

                                                                       brute truth I much prefer

                                                             As anyone who reads my verse

                                                                       would readily infer.

                                                             Here goes then! In the year that's past

                                                                       our parish didn't grow.

                                                             We're where we were this time last year,

                                                                       or very nearly so.

                                                             This isn't anybody's fault

                                                                       unless of course it's mine,

                                                             For I have been at times too proud,

                                                                       a far from fervent swine.

                                                             Though at my desk each morning early,

                                                                       and hard at work by five

                                                             I later make my way to church

                                                                       and prayers to say contrive


                                                             But while, at prayer, I’m more than prone

                                                                       to wallow in self-doubt,

                                                             Or what’s far worse, scrawl evil verse

                                                                       that’s far from being devout.

                                                             The hours I spend perfecting sermons,

                                                                       elegant of phrase,

                                                             Are spent as much for Neaum's glory

                                                                       as for his Maker's praise.


                                                             My pew sheets with their jokes and quotes

                                                                       are made to make folk think

                                                             Of God! But also that I'm clever,

                                                                       for which, of course, they stink.

                                                             My visits to the sick and dying

                                                                       spring rightly from compassion,

                                                             But also of resented duty

                                                                       there's far too good a ration.


                                                             A bible-study can be fun

                                                                       though only as I do it.

                                                             In prospect and in preparation,

                                                                       I shirk the task and rue it.

                                                             Although I love my faithful flock

                                                                       and value and admire them

                                                             Should they, lukewarm, desert their Church

                                                                       I want to roast and fry them,


                                                             To strike them from the parish roll

                                                                       for Laodiceanism.

                                                             Frustrated rage is very much 

                                                                       an Andrew Neaumism!

                                                             Very far from organised,

                                                                       a great procrastinator,

                                                             I push aside essential tasks

                                                                       to do, too late, much later.

                                                             That most of you can tolerate

                                                                       so fallible a swine,

                                                             Could indicate that you, perhaps

                                                                       might share these sins of mine!

                                                             That I'm accepted as your priest

                                                                       for being one of you,

                                                             No haloed saint without a taint,

                                                                       but sinful just like you.

                                                             And thus my sins are turned to virtues

                                                                       aligning me with you,

                                                             Which makes my priesthood empathetic

                                                                       obliquely, oddly true.

                                                             Thank you then for granting me

                                                             So kind a contribution.

                                                             My sins being turned by you to good,

                                                                       grant me absolution.