Saturday, February 04, 2017

Row over fantabulosa servicette at Cambridge theological college

The news today is that Westcott House in Cambridge, a leading Church of England theological college, has apologised for its students attempts to 'queer' evensong.

As the Guardian tells it:
Student priests at Westcott House in Cambridge organised the evensong service on Tuesday in the college chapel. Advertised as a "Polari evening prayer in anticipation of LGBT+ history month”, it was described as a “liturgical experiment" ...
A prayer referred to the "Fantabulosa fairy" and ended: "Praise ye the Duchess. The Duchess’s name be praised." Psalm 19 was reworded to refer to "O Duchess, my butchness".
Speaking as an atheist, I find this rather endearing.

But then Polari reminds me of childhood Sunday lunchtimes and Round the Horne, In that wonderful radio comedy Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, as Julian and Sandy, introduced the wider world to this gay argot.

I have read that the downside of this was it lost its usefulness to gay men - Polari is not a good way of hiding your meaning if your maiden aunt can understand it because she listens to the radio.

The story also reminds me of my reactions the first time I attended evensong in a cathedral - it was York Minster.

My reaction was first that Christianity feels very Eastern and it is remarkable that it established itself so thorough in these green, Western islands.

And second it was that the service was not just theatrical, but camp - men in frocks, pretty boys and so on - which made it more appealing.

So I think the students at Westcott House may have been on to something, and one day we shall find out who was right.

As Paul wrote of heaven to the Corinthians,
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then eek to eek.


Anonymous said...

"In the beginning was the lav, and the lav was with Gloria, and the lav was Gloria."

Frank Little said...

I look forward to the service being broadcast in the Wednesday afternoon slot on Radio 3. :-)