Last week I joined a Glastonbury walking group under the thoughtful and intelligent guidance of warbling Guy Hayward, founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust. We began and ended in the spotless quietude of St Margaret’s Chapel by the Magdalene alms houses. Beautiful countryside, good company and fine vistas, but the trip has inspired me to appeal to anyone who believes in the power of prayer to turn to this holy site and exorcise its demons. They were palpable.
From the ruined Abbey at the heart of the town, eternal symbol of Henry VIII’s gluttonous assault on the faith, to the chain-sawed stump of the Holy Thorn at Wearyall Hill, the newly burnt trunk of a revered 1,000-year-old oak, a menacing voodoo icon set upon a rock on our path, three noisome grabber cranes building a Gotham City of scrap metal near St Bridget’s mound, a leering prostitute and her diabolical client on a hillside bench, weary townsfolk pathetically collecting droplets of water from a once gushing spring now choked by commercial avarice, manic interruptions from malevolent horses. I sense that a spiritual war is being fought for the possession of the town’s sacred energies. The goodies need to win. Please pray for Glastonbury.
Many of my Catholic friends have been worried about Covid jabs made from aborted human embryo cells. “It’s OK,” I tell them “the Pope says it is fine.” In a note from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria and endorsed by Pope Francis, the Vatican has informed all who are anxious about the ethics of the new jabs that “the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive”.This reassuring message has emboldened most of my wavering Catholic clan to proceed. All good? Well, not quite, for among West Country Catholics new concerns have moved in to replace the old. A septuagenarian neighbour and father of five tells me that he thinks the Pfizer has made him gay. I can’t make out if he is joking. My tennis partner had his second dose of the Oxford vaccine before looking up the ingredients.Now he reads from the manufacturer’s chit while I tighten the net. “How can I be sure,” he shrieks, “that this ‘recombinant, replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus’ which it says here is ‘produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney’ will not turn me into a monkey?” A gentle favourite among my cousins insists that the second jab which she took last week has “dented her soul” by making her attractive only to fridge magnets. I don’t know what all this is about as I have no experience of any of these symptoms, nor can I find among the 1,037,376 adverse effect cases logged on the government’s official MHRA “yellow card” data system, anyone else who has. Pope Francis cannot be expected to attend to every individual case but if his West Somerset flock is in any way typical, another papal reassurance will soon be needed.
Turning to this month’s edition of New English Review, I am delighted to discover a pithy epigram by distinguished American poet Jeffrey Burghauser:
On Alexander Waugh
Whose YouTube channel is devoted to the proposition that Edward de Vere wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare
Exhausted by the weight of heresies
I can’t but feel reveal the Truth,
(How they have multiplied since youth!)
I now must find the space in which to squeeze
Another one. It brings me no delight
That Alexander Waugh is likely right.
Strange as it may seem to outsiders, I am not in the business of making converts, though always gleeful when it happens. Anyone who has read Burghauser’s anthologies Real Poems and Still Telling What is Told would be honoured to have such a bright mind, albeit a reluctant one, on side. Another fan (or so I am uncertainly informed) is Canadian actor Keanu Reeves who publicly describes himself as “deVerean” on a video in which he sits upon the ground answering questions from a jam pot to a litter of puppies. I can’t be sure if his enthusiasm is real until I get a response to the letter I sent to the address in Hollywood that my informant gave me. The fruit of love is borne in patience. I bide my time by reading Mr Reeves’ latest message to the world: “It is time to recover our infinite power” –hear, hear to that, whatever it means.
Alexander Waugh is chairman of the De Vere Society and author of God: the Biography
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