with The Reverend Harry Figgis

Home Defence UK
A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
Woolworths Goes Down
Good Morrow my flock, friends, and anyone else who reads this tripe.

And so, Woolworths has died. No more pick n mix, no more ridiculously eclectic stock, no more miserable
staff. Some would say that’s a sin.

And yet the recent ramblings of our Church bishops regarding the economy seem to have gone largely 
unheeded. The moral beatings of sinners seem more a platform for “I told you so” ecumenical opinionism than
any moral or fiscal guidance to save great British shopping institutions. The ever-growing number of ‘nouveau
poor’ falling from the middle classes towards the dole queue pay scant attention to the word of God’s good
servants within the Church. Some suggest there has been a rise in social diseases among white-collar financial
workers, those bankers quite literally going out with a bang. And who can blame them? When the depths of
Hell are no longer fuelled by fire and brimstone but men and women unable to settle their credit card bills. Or
individuals who have over-extended their mortgages, spanked the M & S store card then given chlamydia to a

With these horrendous visions at the forefront of our thoughts, I recalled a parishioner of mine from the bygone days, a dear old Grandmother whose reaction to the loss of her eldest son in wartime was to ask: “Why has God forsaken me?” Eventually Granny worked out that God was omnipresent and she was not being punished as a sinner. God had simply given her family the shitty end of a very shitty stick. From that point on dear old Gran turned her back on the church, making it her life’s work to challenge religious morality in all forms. The old dear was soon up before the bench for public bishop-beating. Her defense in court was to claim that what constituted sin had now shifted. The judge, however, didn’t see it this way. The old woman was still bound by the laws of man, not her own perverse interpretation of geronto-onanism before God and passers-by.

So, in our present, direly unhappy time, what does constitute mortal sin?

The Church was clear what sin comprised. The seven most feared were Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, 
Envy and Pride, while the seven virtues consisted of Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, 
Kindness and Humility. But on March 9, 2008 the Vatican Newspaper published an interview with Bishop 
Gianfranco Girotti (pictured right - the head of the Apolistic Penitentiary, a Vatican body that oversees 
confessions and plenary indulgences). He listed seven modern ‘social sins’: Environmental Pollution, 
Genetic Manipulation, Obscene Wealth, Infliction of Poverty, Drug Trafficking, Morally Debatable Experiments 
and the Violation of Fundamental Rights in Human Nature. It’s basically the Labour manifesto, only without 
the clout.

The list makes it apparent that anything can become a sin; it all depends on one’s moral compass.

You may recall your humble servant was first in line to take up the mantle of previous postings regarding credit crunchiness, moral bankruptcy and the 18 million quid paycheck to one lisping fop, now returning to our televisual screens. But that’s old news. Everyone knows we’re financially fucked now, with Gordon Brown’s rusty moral compass influenced only by the magnetic pull of electioneering. We even know that same lisping fop is due for a scripted, prearranged fall. So why rub it in? Rather than constantly remind us we are sinners, isn’t it time for some good news from the watchtower? 

Temperance is one possible means of redemption. The need for this virtue was highlighted by a
recent article in the Times, heralding a stark warning to one and all. The ‘beer goggles last longer for
women’ story reported something men had known for some time. Dr Kirsten Oinonen, of Lakehead
University in Canada suggested that; “for men, beer goggles wear off as quickly as the alcohol. But in
women the effect lasts much longer”. Dr Oinonen found that women who drink no more than
moderately still have a reduced ability to rate attractiveness in male faces, even after they sober up.
Those who drank were less able to detect facial symmetry, that traditional marker of attractiveness
and good genes which is thought to be important in the choice of available shag.  
"Whether or not any damage or deficits are permanent is hard to tell at this point," Dr Oinonen
added. Apparently drunk women lose all sense of what is going on and will jump on anyone. Which
may account for city workers getting a long-awaited redundancy bounce from their reception staff.
Think before you drink, and get a second opinion before you erm … you know.

Finally we turn to gluttony, which is most definitely still a sin.  A few drinks might get even the nastiest minger or obnoxious stockbroker laid, but repeated overindulgence can lead to addiction. Help is at hand though, from none other than Sex Addicts Anonymous. I kid you not, they do exist. It is claimed that, after drugs, alcohol and shopping, sex is the fourth most common reason for debt in the UK. One in four callers to the UK Insolvency Helpline blame their financial problems on paying for sex. Sort of puts the credit crunch myth to bed. I’d thought it was down to the sub-prime mortgage scam and similar developments, 
bad luck for which the proud men of England were blameless. 

So next time you hear about someone’s house repossession or credit card default, remember that one in four 
possibility and hold off on the sympathy a little. Apparently ‘Woolies’ went down for altogether different 
reasons, but could they have staved off bankruptcy by offering different, more ‘personal’ services rather than 
cheap toasters and germ-ridden jelly lizards by the pound? Now there’s a thought.


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