St Giles' Monthly Newsletter

St Giles' December


Dear everyone,


Advent greetings at the beginning of the new church year and the ending of the year 2020. This is our news, thank you for joining in and creating a newsletter which, if not a conventional church newsletter, is always original.


From our Zoom time on Advent Sunday we learnt that there is much industry going on: Cyril needed to borrow the tall step ladder from church to get his decorations up, Roddy and Susanna have already decorated their tree and the dog Ben has a sparkly collar for night time manoeuvres. Tim and Louise planned to write their Christmas cards after Tim had done Alex’s project on William Blake. Diana’s cards have now turned up and she is set to get on and write them. Amanda has been writing poetry to help her daughter’s class with their ‘Fire of London’ project. Assuming the pen of Samuel Pepys she has cunningly rhymed ‘fiery’ and ‘diary.’ Cath told us how Zoom would help us enhance our appearance for meetings – more fun opportunities for those long dark winter evenings. She and David are planning their summer swim between Greek islands and don’t want to fly. Gail told them how to get to Venice on the train which might, or might not, be useful. Gail has a personal trainer who turns into a unicorn, and Lorraine’s work place provides trainers for the staff. Alex and I didn’t think the Church of England had taken clergy wellbeing to those lengths. Two thoughts on pubs serving substantial meals: Cath recommends English tapas -  pork scratchings and scotch eggs, and Tim the beer that is sold under the name of ‘Substantial Meal’.


Our carol services

Candlelight Carols for the Community, 2 and 9 December 6.00 – 6.30m

Parish Carol Service 14 December 6.30pm

Blue Christmas Service 21 December 6.00 – 6.30pm


Click here for full details on reservations and streaming


Private Prayer and Cleaning Angels

Thursday 3 December at 1.00– 1.30pm

Cleaning angels from 1.30pm. Your last chance to dust a pew! Antique Church Furnishings are removing the pews and other pieces of furniture week of Monday 7 December. We will use the new stacking chairs over Christmas. Our new benches have been made and will be delivered in mid-January when the floorboards have been replaced.


You are encouraged to take part in this survey – even if it makes you cross


Independent Faith Engagement Review

Have your say on how the Government engages with faith communities.

“I would urge as many people as possible to get involved by responding to the consultation, ensuring that the voices of our faith communities are heard.”

- Bishop Sarah

The review, which predates the Covid-19 pandemic, will nonetheless inform how government engages with faith groups during the Covid-19 recovery phase and beyond. 


•        The consultation will last for 4 weeks from 13 November until 11 December 2020

•        The survey takes 15-20 minutes to complete


Click here to take the survey


Sunday Club

The challenge for Remembrance Sunday was to find the gravestone for George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends and place a white flower on it. (Quakers wear white poppies, not red ones.) Here Elizabeth and her sisters place ivy flowers by the stone.


Sunday Club Productions Ltd.

World premier by Imogen and William - click here to view



Mollie’s bench

We planned to buy a chair for Mollie and then found we had too much money for a chair and now aspire to have a bench in her name. if you have yet to give to the Mollie memorial, please send your donation to Jake in the office. It can be gift aided. Thank you


Putting up the Christmas Tree

Jake and James-Paul put the tree up and did the lights (which all worked). 

On Saturday David P and Cyril came along to decorate the tree with restrained good taste. Both had previously passed their ladder-awareness courses and one is quite good at first aid should the need have arisen.


While that was going on……


Lorna and Lorna installed the panel


for Mark Catesby designed by Caroline Swash.



A bird from the window



...and John B sat and painted. Dawn was there too being helpful.



the Advent and Christmas leaflet

Hic sunt dracones: delivering Tales of daring and adventure by Mona, Stephanie, Alex A, Fred and Dave:

It will be very difficult to compare like with like in leafletting techniques on the estate for we start with a variety of base conditions, like stairs feeding only three flats, Frobisher sending you out to face the elements on the 8th. floor and other obstacles, for we in Ben Jonson, are lucky, we have three unfettered runs on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th floor, so we can zip down the corridors in a jiffy, the only hardship being to have to shove more paper into an already stuffed letter box so holding up the rhythm and speed of the delivery!

‘Goodbye Mr Bond’. The lift door closes and Alex disappears, leaving me to walk up the stairs, grumbling. Alex and I are delivering leaflets. He is a hilarious companion (though his stress-free approach to time regularly clashes with my need for speed) and Principal Judge of two ongoing competitions. Best Doormat: won by the big abstract art mat in one of the towers. Extra Hostile Letterbox: double sets of extra thick bristles seem to be an intentionally hostile deterrent to all incoming drafts and mail – some even seem to have extra security features and spit the leaflet back out – once with other letters too. Impressive! And the winner so far!! Those letterboxes demand extra determination - the leaflets must be folded in half, lengthwise. Although, sometimes pushing them through with a full set of fingers (now gloved and sanitised) is the only way.  These are more common in the towers. The blocks of shorter stature have no hostile bristles (except Frobisher) but do have more notices “No junk mail’ ‘No free newspapers’ ‘Wash your hands’. We take note of the requests. The Advent leaflets are neither junk mail nor free newspapers and we frequently pop home to wash our hands. So we deliver to everyone. Only once has someone frostily refused a leaflet, stepping out of the lift just after we had arrived by stairs (we do a combination of lift to be kind to the knees and stairs for effective cardio and leg muscle exercise). Too late, it had already gone through. 
As postmen we often find ourselves traversing corridors and stairways surrounded with a great silence; providing time for contemplation and philosophical thinking. One such question that has baffled casual deliverers and couriers alike is the question of the boundary between the external and internal worlds: can the postman’s fingers pass the boundary? Picture the scene, speeding through delivering newsletters, breaking record time, when suddenly we are met with a stubborn set of bristles – no doubt plucked from some foul tempered hog. If we place our fingers beyond the boundary into the unknown, we fear our plonky digits may be spotted: “Stop! Intruder! Postmen are not supposed to enter! Opinions are clearly divided. 

Do you have a favourite type of letter box?  They were all quite similar!


Any ones that are tricky? Quite a few were full as people were away and their boxes were full. Some had brushes in them. One was so hard to open as the owners had added a spring to the flap.


What is the best message on a door mat? One had stars on it, one had fruit.  Do they count?


What did the handwritten messages say? We saw “No junk mail”.  Someone had ‘Where’s Wally’ pictures behind the glass.   There were loads and loads of shoes you could see through the window on the 1st floor.  You can see them from the podium too. There was also one flat that lots of perfume bottles on the shelf next to the door, and I like the interesting smells.


Do you do the lift or stairs? Stairs.  There are flats on the half levels too that we had to deliver to.


Any secret techniques?  Dad does the first half, I do the second half of each corridor.


Your timing? 10 mins, 15 leaflets a minute (there were two of them).  Good teamwork...


If all that exercise has given you an appetite, how about fish and chips?

Diana and Barbara her ‘bubble’ friend, enjoyed Lobster and Frites courtesy of Cote at Home, using alternative implements including nut crackers to deal with the lobster! As regulars at Cote Barbican this was an excellent way to have a special treat during lockdown and a reminder of the many delicious meals enjoyed in France but not possible this year.



Poetry challenge 

Local followers of Clement Clarke Moore were invited to craft seasonal verse:


‘Twas the Big Tech Before Christmas by Percy Bysshe Gadesden

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the City

not a creature was stirring, which sure was a pity.

The children were splattered on the underfloor heating

Stupefied, paralysed from doing nothing but eating.


When out on the balcony there was a heck of a ruckus;

I stopped watching Netflix because something had struck us.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a bashed-up Über and eight startled deer.


I knew right away it was Santa plus elves;

Typical Barbican, they had quite lost themselves.

Tarnation they cried, we’re not zero emissions;

We knew it, we knew it, we had premonitions.


“Did you fly too low over St Giles’, may I ask”

But I heard no reply through his beard and a mask

Call me suspicious or just call me cynical,

But I bet they got caught on the top of a pinnacle.


Santa was angry, you could say incandescent

But he knew the first thing was a quick risk assessment

So he whistled and shouted and Tweeted each deer:


“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

Now, Prancer and Vixen!

O, Comet! O, Cupid!

O, Donner and Blitzen!”


And each of them answered with what might have been “here”


So that was all right, but his news made us quake;

The presents had vanished right into the lake.

No matter I said, we’re on Amazon Prime

With one hour delivery, so it will all be on time


So iPads and iPhones and MacBooks were seized

With each of us ordered to buy what we pleased

Fingers and hooves tapped wildly online

And Amazon bikes started forming a line


We spoke not a word, but went straight to our work,

And filled all the stockings, then he turned with a smirk

Friended us on Facebook, thanked us all on Twitter

Gave us five stars on Expedia and picked up all the litter


He leapt into his Yaris, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Bless you and social media, have a very good goodnight!"



Extended Haiku Anon

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And Waitrose was shut

(don’t you just get the feeling that there is less to haiku than meets the eye)


'Twas the Night before Thomas Stearns Carey

'Twas the night before Xmas, and all through the flat

The silence was growing - no rat-a-tat-tat,

No ring on the door-bell, no knock on the door,

No deep pile of parcels amassed on the floor;


No Ubers were driving, no Amazon too,

No takeaway couriers, no Deliv’roo;

The zero hours contractors resting at last,

Their final pre-Christmas rush thankfully past;


The madness of commerce just put to one side.

And even those MPs who’d bullied and lied

Were silenced by something that everyone heard -

So quiet, so faint, a ghost? A night bird?


To the echo of clapping, a small voice rang out

It grew and it strengthened, it grew to a shout -

'Come Pfizer, Moderna, come Oxford, come all,

Come Janssen, come China, arise to the call!'


Then those brave researchers all came to our aid,

To help us move forward and not be afraid,

By working together in their country’s labs,

And striving their utmost to give the world jabs.


So after the brutal long dark months this year,

There suddenly woke the first glimmer of cheer;

And all of a sudden on that Christmas morn

From the best of humanity, some hope was born.


The Royal Family celebrating Christmas at Sandringham


The Family assembles in the great hall on Christmas day for the official photograph


After lunch, the Queen distributes gifts to the staff


A couple turn up with two sheep and a baby to join in the festivities



A doctor writes

Dear Friends,


I received a most disturbing phone call from Cannon Kenny this week. He posed the question: “Should we have a ‘ferry’ on top of the Christmas tree?”. A ferry? What is the world coming to? Does this reveal a diabolical shift in matters theological and eschatological? Is this an attempt to reinvent the Christmas story in an epistemological manner that will be beyond the understanding of most of us? Rather than Mary and Joseph arriving at the stable by donkey they turn up at a harbour on a ‘ferry’? Or the shepherds and their sheep, taking a leaf out of Noah’s book, arrive in an Ark? Or the three wise men (and if they were wise, can we be sure they were men?) turn up on a luxury ocean going liner? Or is this an attempt to politicise the conifer with a message that draws attention to queues of lorries heading toward Dover in the New Year?


I was on the phone to Dr.B.B. like a shot and she was round to the Cannonry before you could say Saint Guillebaud’s! My concerns were a) Had CK toppled from the ladder while decorating the aforementioned tree and received a blow to the head? (A not uncommon injury at this time of year); b) Had CK started on the mulled wine already? (I have had words before); c) Had CK spent too long in the Barbican ponds? (I gather he has recently joined the craze for “wild swimming “).


None of these dear friends. My hearing had failed me yet again. I now understand the matter of debate relates to a Christmas tree with a ‘fairy’, a star or an angel?


I wish you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas.

Dr. Lauderdale Spratt MB BS MRCP MRCS MRCGP MRCPsych (failed)


Pets Corner - by one of our correspondents.


You may first wish to read this health warning

 Animals – Pets should not be kept on the premises and are not allowed in the communal gardens. Please do not feed the wildlife (especially the rather pesky squirrels!)


Of course, we have had pets in the past. Principally dogs and specifically spaniels; in my case, they were actually my parents’. Although, I did give my mother a Papillon (a butterfly dog, named after its ears). Having driven it up to Scotland in a drugged state (the dog) it woke up on Christmas morning and charged into the garden and flew off an embankment to drop 10 feet and broke its leg. Fortunately, vets work on Christmas Day in Scotland and we were just fortunate that it was not New Year’s Day. This auspicious start did not mar its future (by the way it was called Katrina) and she  (the dog) outlived my mother and I was fortunate to have a neighbour (a mile away) who was delighted to adopt Katrina.


So much for the past. We now have Ben, OK, when he is bad (not too often) he is called Benedict. He was acquired from my nephew who had a litter (well, it was actually his Cocker/Springer bitch) of which we had first choice and took the boldest of the pups. Although the product of a liver and white bitch and golden Labrador, Ben is black other than a white flash on his chest. Ben is now seven months old and brilliantly trained in that he will sit on command (unless distracted by anything else such as a leaf), He will fetch a ball and retrieve, sit and drop it at our feet. He will walk very well at heel if we are either side of him and, occasionally just when out on a walk. Walks are a joy (most of the time). Seven in the morning we are up and out on to Hampstead Heath. That early to avoid the crowds. Up until recently Ben was released from the restraints of the lead once we are up there to rush into the undergrowth on a squirrel hunt. Sadly however, Ben also loves tissues, of which I believe he could consume a box a day. But, far worse, the new scourge of Covid, the abandoned face mask. Once such a mask is discovered, it is seen as a great game to consume it in its entirety whilst avoiding capture. So, three weeks ago we found a very ill Ben who had (it was established after X-Ray) three of the metal bridges from the masks lodged in his intestines which had to be removed under full surgery. The indignity of wearing the cone of shame was borne with stern dignity and actually acted as the mouth of a vacuum cleaner, allowing the hoovering up of everything in our paths. Now we are not allowed out unless on a lead; all be it an extending one with nine feet of lea-way. If we are lucky, somewhere on the Heath we might find one or two like-minded canines (and owners) who wish to romp (actually chase at sound breaking speeds) around and the dogs of war are unleashed. At such times tissues and face masks can not impinge on serious business.


There are very strict disciplinary rules about where we can sit; such as not on the sofa unless on someone’s lap but, as we have grown and, for some unknown reason, laps have not, we have found that we slightly overlap.  But all in all, Ben is sometimes an (expensive) worry, but always a joy, and we are getting a lot of regular exercise, whatever the weather.



Pets Problem Page (PPP) by our other correspondent (who happens to be married to the first one)

No paw too big


Woof! And welcome to our new pets’ problems column.  My humans are writing this for me as I haven’t yet quite mastered a keyboard.  Just to introduce myself (for those who I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting at the St Giles weekly Zoom coffee morning) I am Benedict, Ben for short,  a very handsome (though I say it myself) young dog about town, ready to answer questions from all you pets out there.



Helpful images of Benedict man 



and dog for you to compare and contrast.





First out of the bulging postbag this week is a plea from cocker spaniel Fifi of Shakespeare Tower, who says “My humans are a bit fatter than they were a few months ago. How do I encourage them to take more exercise to get rid of the excess pounds?”  Well, Fifi, this is a problem that lots of pets are asking these days and it is really up to you to make sure that they have at least two good walks a day. Try sitting by the door looking eager and ready to go. If your human is reluctant to move from his chair then I find my best weapon is the fixed sad eyed stare while sitting at his feet.  A gentle paw on the lap can help, too. Once you have got them outside then the trick is to make the humans stay outside for as long as possible. I have noticed, especially on rainy days, that they will try to drag you home as soon as you have “done your business”. So, a good tip is to hold on as long as possible and you may get an extra ten or fifteen minutes’ walk out of them.  Every little helps when it comes to shedding those excess pounds.


Bobby, a Labrador from Hackney, writes to complain that his human drags him away every time he finds a particularly delicious piece of rubbish to eat on the street. As a half Labrador myself, I understand entirely how you feel.  My advice here is “distraction”. If you are walking two humans together, then wait until they are talking to each other and take the opportunity to lunge sideways, gulp and swallow before they have time to react.  A variation on this might be to feint to one side as if chasing a squirrel before jumping back to pick up that tasty morsel.  Remember - speed is everything.


A word of caution here, learned after a painful operation and the indignity of having to wear the cone of shame for ten days, do NOT eat the blue face masks so plentiful at the moment on the streets.  They may look soft but they hide a nasty spiky bit of metal that even a doggy digestive system can’t deal with.


And lastly, in case you think this column has entirely gone to the dogs, we have correspondence from Roxy, a tabby cat from Camden. She tells a sad tale. Her peaceful cul-de sac, for years her sole terrain, has recently been invaded by a young dog, introduced to their home by a couple she previously believed to be her friends.  This bumptious puppy delights in chasing her noisily at every opportunity, necessitating an undignified dash up the nearest garden wall for our correspondent.  Well, all I can say to this, Roxy, is that chasing cats is enormous fun and if only I could climb as fast as you there would be no escape……


Well, that’s all for this week. I have to end now as my human Mrs has just opened the fridge door and I mustn’t miss out on my kitchen floor crumb cleaning duties. I just want to wish all you pets out there a full tummy and a warm sofa to sleep on.


The Happy Gardener

December - the time to bring the outside in. The time to judiciously snip some of those long-stemmed hydrangeas of the summer and autumn – but only enough to fill the vase. Got to leave the structural form outside to hold some interest in the less then colourful outside garden. By some serendipity, the faded colours of the dried hydrangeas match the Victorian tiles of the fire surround.


Much as I would like, the wonderful brown leaves from the pavement on the street won’t be coming inside.  Some quirk of nature has heaped up those leaves on the pavement only in front of our garden, and they will stay where they are - a happy coincidence, contrasting with the beautiful purple berries of callicarpa bodinieri.

One plant thriving inside is the Christmas cactus. It has survived extreme neglect for the whole year and then, totally out of the blue, it has produced the most stunning red flowers in the month before Christmas.


Wishing you a warm and virus-free Advent.

Your one and only Montaguette Don and



Katharine Rumens, Rector 

St Giles' Parish Office

Tel.: (020) 7638 1997 


St Giles’ Church

Fore Street, Barbican

London, EC2Y 8DA

November Newsletter


Dear friends,


Here’s to the beginning of the season of hygge as we settle down into winter. In no particular order, this is some of what is going on.


John is poshing up his Norfolk barn; Daniel is not using his sabbatical to write a book; Gail has mowed her mother’s lawn; Cath didn’t have to go to Reading; Tim P ran too hard and hurt his legs. Susan thinks number 10 slows things down; Cyril organised us to visit Sin at the National Gallery; Zoe made a vegan birthday cake for a friend which didn’t really work out apart for the sprinkles on the top. Lorraine says we get history wrong if we think the Vikings landed on these shores merely to exchange their library books. Why are the church mice so fond of the vestment chest?

‘The Mass of St Giles’ by Master of Saint Giles c1500 in the ‘Sin’ exhibition

The benches and chairs are now on order and lots of you have generously donated a bench or chair. Dedication wording for the plaques to Jake ( please. This is what they look like at the moment 

The window panels. It’s a cold old business putting in the panels. The two technicians are both called Laura. This is one of the Lauras making space for the Catesby panel.


Caroline used the lettering on the Busby memorial when designing the panels. The third panel is in the drafting stage.


We will continue to improve the quality of live-streaming in the coming weeks. These are streamed via out Twitter page and can be watched after (you may need to scroll down to find it). All streamed services are also listed here with links to streaming.


The Advent and Christmas leaflet will be ready in the middle of the month. The Advent Weekend will happen with the book fair and some safely distanced stalls. We will keep our distance from one another at the Christingle Service on Advent Sunday.

The National Synod of Wales of the United Reformed Church (URC) has been disposing of a large private collection of books including this book of psalms and hymns. I don’t think Revd PP Gilbert MA ever used it, which is a shame as he may never have got to sing that favourite hymn of mine, ‘Arm of the Lord, awake! awake! Put on thy strength; the nations shake;


Private Prayer followed by Cleaning Angels

From 1pm on Thursday 5 November. New volunteers/Angels very welcome. Contact Diana ( for more information.



Careers' corner

Lewis is currently working as a Care Service Assistant in a nursing home before starting training as a nurse at the University of Brighton in February 2021

“Before starting work, I was under the impression that I found history boring. At school I was tucked behind a desk, writing pages and pages about the achievements and failures of bygone generations.


To be blunt, the many hours of notes on Cromwell and the English Restoration I wrote have not exactly aided my training in the use of body hoists, filling out various forms and charts, and supporting the frail and dying with personal care.


A resident showed me a photograph of her younger self from 1940 in her naval uniform, along with her medals of service. Despite her now small, frail appearance, I could still see it was her. She had the same sparkle in her eyes that she had then, despite now drawing to the end of her long, accomplished life.


This goes for all the photos of the residents I care for. Being in my first job and at the beginning of my adult life, seeing photos of their younger years is a stark reminder of the transience of our existence.


I think maybe one day, a carer will look at a picture of me when I can no longer do the things we all take advantage of in our youth and health? I’ve learned many things in my short time as a carer so far.


Here are a few: the first, it turns out I love history - the history and stories of different people; secondly, life is not about what you can’t do, but rather what you can - kind, compassionate care for the elderly, frail and vulnerable should be a right, not a bid in an auction; lastly, I’ve learned that there are no boundaries in this world, and finishing on the words of that resident whose eighty year-old photograph I’d admired before, said: “there are no secrets here!”


A Doctor Writes

Dear Readers,


Following my banishment from the practice, QCQ case pending, I write from the discomfort of my over-sprung armchair, that seems to have sprung its springs, and a rather cold corner of the country where the central heating has failed and the log burning fire has run out of logs. All this conspires to make me write with words of advice to old friends regarding “keeping warm” this winter.


Some of you, well one of you to be precise, have asked “Which vest should I be wearing?”. Without hesitation I recommend a good string vest. It may look like a worn-out dishcloth but believe you me, it will keep you warm. And, come the spring, it can be used for cleaning the dishes. Thermal underwear, if worn correctly, has its place. Cotton or wool are environmentally friendly, but the latter can be extremely itchy. Just be aware that synthetic materials may give you a frisson of static electricity that warms the parts that other materials do not reach. And another word of warning, do use a cool setting when washing any of these. Following an overly warm soaking, my very expensive “Patagonian Extreme Weather Thermal Underwear” is now only suitable for a baby aged 6 to 9 months.


Finally, I pass on the advice of Cannon Kenny: “The more layers the better!” These clergy types have long since realised that layer upon layer of albs, hassocks, cassocks, chasubles, copes and cloaks will see them through the coldest of Complines. I once requested that mulled wine be served on a winter Sunday morning and was told that such a suggestion was nothing short of blasphemous. I apologised profusely. I gather a cup of coffee is now provided post-service.


Layer up, keep warm, stay safe.


Dr. Lauderdale Spratt MB BS MRCP MRCS MRCGP MRCPsych (failed)



Poetry Section


“Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:” instead of being disinterred bones near the chancel step


The William McGonagall prize winner writes, ‘A friend who lives in Yorkshire wrote saying:

“One can almost forget “oven ready Brexit” and Covid. The parasol’s tilted to the lower sun. The garden is now in that overgrown, untidy late summer state before you need to contemplate an autumn tidy up. The smoke tree has grown so much and splayed out all over the place. Apparently you prune and shape it in early Spring.” 


It was the start of a sonnet….


The parasol tilts to the lower sun;

The garden’s in late summer state

And smoke tree pruning will have to wait

For spring when Covid winter’s run.

Boris, like eyeless Samson pulls down 

The pillars of our worldly place

And substitutes with cheap disgrace

What once was competent renown.

So politics tilt to lower thrum

To suit our petty minded state

And hope for better has to wait

For spring when vaccines come

Leaves fall and empires too;

The sun sets on England and me and you.



A parable for today: Matthew 22: 1 – 14

“The kingdom of heaven is like a president who prepared a banquet at Mar-a-Lago. He sent his staff to those who had been invited to tell them to come, but they refused to citing media concerns over Covid precautions.


“Then he raged against the fake media and sent more staff and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that the most beautiful chocolate cake you ever tasted is prepared and if they know what is good for them, they will hot-foot it over here now.’


“But they paid no attention and went off — one to her casino, another to his waste business. The others pistol-whipped his staff, and they now sleep with the fishes.


The president flew into a terrible rage and ordered his Attorney General to indict those murderers and transfer their assets to him.


“Then he said to his staff, ‘The banquet is ready, but those I invited were losers and didn’t deserve to be here. So, go and invite anyone you find.’ So the staff went out into the streets and gathered at gun-point all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, but mainly the bad, and Mar-a-Lago was filled with guests and Russians, lots of Russians.


“But when the president entered, he noticed a solitary defiant guest wearing a mask. Enraged all over again, he shouted, ‘How did you get in here wearing a mask, pal?’ The man was speechless.


“Then the president ordered the secret service, ‘Taser him and throw him in Guantanamo, where there will be water-boarding and pulling of teeth.’


“Then he tweeted: ‘

‘Of the wealthy, many are called, but few make the cut’.”



The Curate muses while riding his Boris Bike

As I have been dutifully riding my Boris Bike around the parish and beyond it has given me due cause to think about other bicycle-orientated clergy who can be an inspiration to me. I have drawn up a list, after some extensive research, and it’s rather short. * Well actually, only one. Father Brown. Who could forget G.K Chesterton’s super-sleuth vicar, solving murders all around Kembleford in the Cotswolds. He uses, in preference to all other modes of transport, his trusty ‘sit-up and beg’ bicycle to go from crime scene to crime scene. Fortunately for me I don’t have to visit too many of those, however some of the meetings I have to attend could be regarded as…. any way enough of that…


I suspect there is an entire study to be made into clergy transport, and I am sure there is an entire department in Church House that does just that, with a ‘transportational working team’. Just think of our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers, they now have the all new Popemobile, which I believe was upgraded a couple of weeks ago to a Dacia Duster, well actually it was downgraded because of the Pope’s drive for frugality. Dusters aside, my good old Boris Bike does me well. It gets through the traffic, saves me time and saves on carbon, unlike those naughty cars that seem to be littered everywhere because of the loads of new bike lanes and congestion zones. It also gives me some well needed exercise. How else are the weekly cakes, bottles of bubbles that I am forced to consume every Sunday going to be worked off?


Ut me permanere in itinere, in Dei fiducia finem, as they say in these parts.


*The Editor respectfully reminds the curate that Parson Woodforde ran a bicycle repair shop and Mr Collins regularly competed in the Tour de France. Being youthful, he does not remember Noote who wobbled his way through many episodes of All Gas and Gaiters.



My Favourite Mug

Celebrities share their ceramic secrets.

Diane’s Miraculous Mug

"Admit it, do you possess a totally unchipped cup which has been in regular use for 29 years? I thought not. After such a long period, the odd broken handle or chipped rim appears. But not so with my favourite mug. Miraculously, it remains as unblemished as the day I bought it from a shop called Nawar in Highgate shortly after we were married. It has a near-identical twin. While my favourite one rejoices in emerald and lime green stripes on the outside with a red and yellow interior, the other is resplendent in sea green and emerald stripes with red and purple on the inside. But each mug’s crowning glory is the liquid gold stripes which were applied after glazing. So dazzling are these beautiful cups that we ration their use; Alastair and I only use them at weekends! And of course, since they are hand painted handmade pottery, they are never allowed anywhere near the dishwasher. No doubt that’s why they have survived chip-free! (You may be interested to know that Reckless Designs is still making these stunning pieces:"

Smashing Alexander 

"I had a favourite mug, It was a deep blood crimson centred with an empty white heart: empty except for a pair of birds nestled warmly, together, on their roost. The cup originated from a special Valentine's day collection, but unfortunately did not last long before it met an end smashed into many pieces on the hard kitchen floor - as fragile porcelain and china readily does.


Another mug, however, was quick to inherit this role, with a crimson heart - though slightly less Romantic - in the form of a classic “I love New York” mug. The cupboard above the stove, where it lives, has held this mug for about five years now. It came in a pair, as a thoughtful present, from our good friends and neighbours Kate and Adam who brought it back with them from a trip to the busy American city. My sister selected the pristine white cup and I immediately chose the deep mustard yellow one. The hearty, stocky shape and warming colour makes it perfect for a cup of tea at any time: usually Earl grey, though sometimes fiery, spiced Indian Chai.


No matter how simple a cup of tea or coffee may seem, we all know it’s always something of a joy to sit down with our favourite mug. A well thought out design or comforting picture of a place we’ve been or a painting we love can make a little, but profound difference to our day; and for those who take milk we all love to sit back and watch after a splash of the pale creamy liquid is added, how it energetically swirls and dances around in our dark, deep drinks like a little silver cloud or moon-like dancer."


Charis drinks to happy skin

"My Mum bought me this mug a few years back in Hong Kong, it is very simple one, the size matches my small Thermos, which is perfect. I don’t drink much tea or coffee at home (I do enjoy drinking Chinese tea with Dim Sum) But I drink Chinese ‘’Women tea" at home everyday. I add some goji berries, red dates & dried Longan in the Thermos with water, rest it for 1 hour then drink the tea and eat the fruit. With this mug, it is nice to see what is it inside and it looks beautiful with all the things and tea in it. This ‘’Women tea’’ is very popular for Chinese women, it is good for your skin, your colour and body. And all Asian mums always teach their daughters how to make it, and always ask you to drink more, ‘’It is good for you, drink it!’’. I'm not sure if it is works but it tastes good and it becomes our habit. I also like to make Chrysanthemum with goji berries, or hibiscus tea. These are not really tea, but in China we called all these drinks ‘’tea’’ and every tea has its own benefit to make you more healthy.


I like to keep my tradition whenever I live, it might not be about the mug but the habit behind."


The Singing Gardener                                                            End of October, Covid Era.


Yellow London clay – that’s what I’m up against. You know the stuff, used to make bricks, lying just a few inches below the topsoil, either pooling water or baked hard. It is a labour of love to dig this soil. So, bracing myself, I burst into tune “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go… if you dig, dig, dig with a shovel and a pick…” I might just get a plant to grow. I wish I had the seven dwarfs with their shovels and their picks. Nonetheless, I dig deep and plant the “Poet’s Wife” and wait for May.


And then there are the slugs to contend with. I don’t mind the snails so much, their shells make them more loveable. However, on contemplating St Francis recently, and being aware of his great love for animals and nature, I decide it’s time to make peace - not war. I hum along to St Francis’s prayer, and am caught short by the line “…where there is hatred let me bring Your love”  and make a slug sanctuary, way, way down, at the bottom of the garden, and feel at one with the world.

Now, Hydrangeas, they are my grand passion. They do like pooled water, and drink deeply, and flower on and on. If you don’t leave them for their stately architectural form over the winter, they make the most wonderful cut, and then, dried, flowers. Paniculata “Limelight” does it for me, but I’ve resisted the wish to have an abundance of large cut flowers indoors, at least for the moment.

And my reward?

Not only does the Poet’s Wife flower, but it flowers three times and is still flowering here in the autumn garden, poking its glorious ochre rose through the Callicarpa bodinieri.


So, I sing again

“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halle-lu-jah, Halle-lu-jah!”

Thank you for my bouquets and celebrations marking my 20 years at St Giles’. In my first week here I asked for a list of members of the congregation with their e mail addresses. ‘We don’t really have those’ I was told. Now we do, and we have lots of lists.


Thank you for your friendship, support and encouragement.


May the God of love be with us


Katharine Rumens, Rector


St Giles' Parish Office

Tel.: (020) 7638 1997 


St Giles’ Church

Fore Street, Barbican

London, EC2Y 8DA

Where to visit us:-

St Giles' Cripplegate Church
Fore Street
London EC2Y 8DA


Registered Charity               Number 1138077

From 3 December with the lifting of the lockdown restrictions public worship in churches will again be permitted.  


Sunday 6 December  Advent 2  

10.00 Parish Eucharist 

The church service this Sunday will be broadcast via our YouTube link


Download Music and Readings and Service booklet here


Please click here if you would like to make a donation.


11.00 Virtual Coffee Morning via Zoom 

Join the Coffee Morning here

Weekday Services

08.30 Morning Prayer (Monday to Thursday in the Chancel)



9 and 23 December

Home Prayer Group - Lectio Divina 19.30 via Zoom. To join contact Suzanne Royce


The church is open for private prayer

The church iremains open from 11.00-16.00 Monday-Friday for private prayer. Please observe social distancing and any other instructions required when visiting the church.


Private Prayer and Reflection on first Thursday of the month 

You are invited to join others in church on Thursday 5 November  Please bring the monthly prayer sheet  here. If you are not able to join us, we hope you will continue to pray with us wherever you are.

Future Dates 3 December


Cleaning Angels

The monthly sessions on the first Thursday of the month from 13.30-15.00. 

Future Dates  3 December


2020 Dates of PCC meetings in church at 19.30 


Parish Office Opening Hours

Mon-Fri 11.00-16.00

Tel: 020 7638 1997  

Watch the Ordination of our Curate Alex Norris and other Ordinands in the Diocese of London at St Giles’ by  +Joanne, Bishop of Stepney


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