A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Expecting a telegram from the Queen

Beverley Minster virger Neil Pickford marks a milestone.
Just for once I’m going to praise myself in this column. Yes, I know it’s a rare occurrence but I feel that it’s merited this week.
This is my 100th blog for the Beverley Advertiser – yes, it’s true. For nearly two years I have been creating my deathless prose for you, dear reader – most of the time as part of the prestigious and elite readership environment that is the website but also, for the last five glorious months, sharing my thoughts with a wider readership in the traditionally printed form.
Sadly the new-style website has only archived a few of my most recent articles so, if you want to read my entire outpouring you’ll have to wait for a book, “The collected wit and wisdom of Neil Pickford” (which will probably need to be published as a trilogy, at the very least. It’ll be the ideal Christmas present – start saving now).
Anyway, to matters of greater importance (he continued, having switched on his rarely used modesty button).
There has been an almost palpable sense of tension around the Minster during the last few weeks, A large number of individuals have been planning, speculating, hoping, working towards and, yes, even praying for success in a venture that is close to their hearts.
I an referring to the Alpha Course which those of you who travel past the Minster from Flemingate may well have seen advertised on a large white banner facing the road.
It’s the type of event that celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins hates, a ten-week period  when people meet and talk about Christianity. Unlike the picture such anti-Church campaigners try to portray this is not a mass brain-washing activity, there is no coercion and, we guarantee, nothing more dangerous than an invitation to think about the subject and talk to other people who already have.
Many of these people who have already thought about the subject are, in fact, quite normal people (gasp!) – I know I am. I went on the Alpha Course several years ago and was very pleased to find out how un-preachy it was. In fact I would have to say it was darned intelligent, gently provocative, friendship-making – and the food was good as well. I actually felt quite comfortable there, which was nice.
For the first time ever this course is being run and promoted jointly by all three Anglican churches in Beverley, although all the practical stuff (the table moving and so on) is happening in the Minster on Wednesday evenings, starting on 22nd September. I am told there is still room for more if anyone would like to drop in on the first one but don’t talk to me about it: have a word with Rex Robinson (847415) or Reverend Matt Martinson (862770) as they actually know what’s going on.
All I know is that, if there are any tables and chairs to be shifted about, I’ll be there to help if required.
But now I feel I must end this special commemorative blog with a bang, with something truly special that unites my readers old and new. And so I share with you all a joke that I first introduced to the world in blog number 79 – a joke I’m prepared to claim as an original, invented by me and first published in Beverley earlier this year.
Question: What do you give a happy cat for breakfast?
Answer: Purr-idge.
Brilliant, isn’t it? Let’s hope I can maintain the standard for the next 100 weeks.

First published September 2010

I should point out there are currently only 95 blogs listed to date – that’s because five of them fell below even my minimum standards. Sheesh – they must have been real stinkers, mustn’t they?


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