the lament of mrs vicarage

13 11 2011

And so it’s return was as good as I had hoped – a bitter-sweet tragi-comedy of awkward moments, insightful arguments and exaggerated characters that makes the BBC’s Rev so good to watch. Ricky Gervais, your domination of painful ‘real-life’ comedy is well and truly over.  

In episode 1 Rev managed once again to squeeze depth into it’s little band of characters, from the terrifying Archdeacon Robert to the amorous Adoa to the “we’ve all got one” Colin and the new slightly sinister Bishop of London. But most of all Adam himself.

No,  actually even more most of all, Mrs Vicarage herself, Alex Smallbone. When she went into her diatribe a few minutes in, I could hear vicar’s wives (and yes, vicar’s husbands) everywhere shouting at the telly – go girl, you tell ‘em!

Watch the diatribe here, or read below:

Do you know the last time I had a whole weekend with you Adam all to myself? Er, no neither do I because oh yes that’s right, it’s never happened!
I’m sorry, what’s the matter?
What’s the matter? I’m fed up with never seeing you, that’s what’s the matter. I’m fed up with your congregants saying what a shame Alex couldn’t come today like they’ve got some masters degree in passive-aggression just because I happen to have been busy at work. I’m fed up with coming home from work and only to make yet another mushroom stroganoff for some sodding church meeting of pedantic bores who want to sit around in my home discussing how to put in a fire exit or whatever. I want to have a child with you because I don’t just want to be a solicitor all my life but you don’t shag me enough…
Erm, I do… don’t I? Really..
No, because this house is permanently full of people making unceasing demands on your time because they’ve got nothing else in their lives…

As the role of vicar has changed beyond recognition in recent years, so has the role of their partner, and not just because there are now an increasing number of vicar’s husbands. There are also an increasing number who work full-time themselves; and an increasing number who don’t want to be seen as the ‘also comes with’ to the vicar, but as a person in their own right. So, if you bake, then bake, but not because you are married to the vicar. If you like having tea with old ladies, then do it, but not because you’re the vicar’s wife.

To me, the vicar’s wife or husband is the background hero of parish life, no matter whether they bake or host or do the traditional thing or not. It’s because they answer the phone and are expected to be the adminstrator, secretary and vicar’s GPS; they are expected to attend church and be friendly and know what’s going on and so often be the buffer between ‘the people’ and the vicar. And most of all because they love us, and have agreed to give up a ‘normal’ life for a definitely abnormal one, putting down roots and making friends in someone else’s community knowing the pain that will come when you are uprooted again and again.

For us, we have always been lucky. In the 2 parishes we have been in, the lovely Fran has pretty much always been treated as Fran, and still is. Thank you for that. I couldn’t do what I do or be what I be (!?) without her.

So Mrs (and Mr) Vicarage we salute you. We hear your lament, and we are sorry for all the times we put life before you. And Rev, may you continue to point out, with humour and pain and poignant conversations the mystery of life that is one lived in a vicarage.

Read the point of view of a real vicar’s wife on the Vicar’s Wife blog.





i am the vicar, i am

18 11 2009

I am the vicar, I am.
I am the pastor, the carer, the listener
the one with the time to drop everything and
I also understand global politics and immigration and
I am the one who knows about Afghanistan
and cares about ‘our boys’
and I care about speed-humps
graffiti
litter
and the positioning of zebra crossings near schools.

I am passionate about school assemblies
council meetings
mums and toddlers and also
I am good at one-to-one and small groups and
I listen and empathise and at the same time
I am the one who plans and strategizes and
I am the one who understands budgets and decides if we can buy any staples
or replace the heating system.
I am the vicar, I am.

I am the quiet reflective prayer and
I am the speaker, the enthuser, the motivator, the learned teacher and
I can engage a room of 10, 50, 300 people with no problem because
I am the one who relates particularly well to children
older people
the middle-aged
the jobless
the employed
the doctors
teenagers and
I am the one who is always one step ahead and
I am the one who is endearingly disorganised.
I am the vicar, I am.

I care passionately about church politics
I care passionately about domestic abuse
I care passionately about the plight of Anglo Catholics
women priests
gay clergy
evangelicals and
I listen to the pope
the archbishop and
Rob Bell.

I am up-to-date with theological developments.
I understand the history of the reformation
the armed forces
the war
the government
the deanery
the Jewish background of Jesus and
I care about the excluded and
I manage my admin and
I know how to access children’s services.
I am the vicar, I am.

I am the one in whom trust is placed
I am the one in whom grumbles are placed
I am the one who is always talking to everyone else
I am the one who models worship
marriage
family
gardening

conversation
baking
prayer
listening
talking
planning.

I often get it wrong.
I am the one who has to keep my doubts under wraps and
I am also the one who is vulnerable and
dependable
stable
trustworthy.

I am the one who chairs meetings
I am the one who manages group discussions
I am the manager of an organisation that employs only me
I am the volunteer co-ordinator
the opinion co-ordinator
the trespasser on the territory of people who have been around a lot longer than me
and will be there after me.
I understand the heating system
the financial system
the rota system.

I love committees.

I drink tea with older people
And coffee with younger people
I listen to stories of bus routes and hospital visits and
I believe in transforming our community through the power of Jesus.

I am the one who is very tired.
I am the one who hates wearing dresses but still smiles
and would love to be muddy all the time.

I am the one who only works one day a week.

I am the one who loves this job.
I am the one who is making it up as I go along.
I am the one who would not swap this for anything.
I am the vicar, I am.

© 2009 Kevin Lewis

I am muddy. I am prayerful. I am.








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