Monday, December 23, 2013

Church of England affirms M&S sharia checkouts

There has been something of a furore over Marks & Spencer's announcement that henceforth Muslim staff on their checkouts will be permitted to decline to serve M&S customers who purchase alcohol or pork. That is to say, M&S customers will either be asked to queue at a checkout where the employee does not object to serving kuffar (however much longer the queue), or they will have to wait while M&S find a member of staff who is prepared to serve you.

His Grace really wasn't going to write on this matter (it being the Season of Goodwill, and all), but the Church of England decided rather foolishly to tweet its commendation to M&S for "making reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs of their workers", which really needs a response.

This policy appears to emanate from one incident:
At one of its stores in central London last week, customers waiting with goods that included pork or alcohol were told by a Muslim checkout worker to wait until another till became available. The assistant was extremely apologetic at having to ask customers to wait.

One customer, who declined to be named, said: “I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available.

“I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I’ve never come across that before.”

Customers trying to buy alcoholic drinks for Christmas were also asked to wait.
And M&S have explained their policy:
“We recognise that some of our employees practise religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times. M&S promotes an environment free from discrimination and so, where specific requests are made, we will always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service.”
An environment free from discrimination? Have they considered that their customers don't wish to be discriminated against and made to feel morally deficient or 'unclean'? How is inconveniencing customers by forcing them to queue at non-Muslim checkouts consistent with "high levels of customer service"? 

The main problem with this is that it plays to a certain Muslim stereotype: it affirms an utterly myopic interpretation of sharia law and so perpetuates prejudice against all Muslims. The Qur'an exhorts Muslims not to eat pork products or drink alcohol: it does not say they may not handle glass bottles or pass a plastic packet of bacon over a scanner.

But, no matter. Some M&S equality aficionado has determined the orthodox tenets of each religion, and is prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate them: they have confirmed - in true anti-discrimination style - that Jewish employees are also permitted to decline to serve customers alcohol and pork, notwithstanding that no Jewish employee has ever refused to do this in the store's 129-year history.

But why stop at alcohol and pork?

Are they also permitted to decline to scan a packet of prawns? May they refuse to sell garments made of wool and cotton? Or meat mixed with dairy? Is a Muslim employee permitted to decline to sell you a bikini or a lipstick? And what about M&S finance? Is a Muslim employee who objects to charging interest on debt going to be permitted to administer an interest-free credit card?

And why restrict this to the point of sale? Don't these products require handling throughout the logistical chain? Are Muslim (and Jewish) employees going to be exempt from placing orders for certain products? Are they going to be exempt from handling certain boxes in the warehouse? 

Are Christians going to be permitted to decline to handle halal meat, since it has been "offered to idols" (1Cor 8)? Or has the M&S equality aficionado decreed that this is not a fundamental  requirement of the faith? If so, on what theological basis?

As far as His Grace is aware, M&S don't sell condoms. But if they did, would a Roman Catholic employee be permitted to decline to serve the customer, thereby compounding their embarrassment?

This is not " reasonable accommodation": it is not the same as permitting holy days off or the wearing of certain religious symbols over a uniform. It is manifestly unreasonable when customers are inconvenienced by i) having to queue at a non-sharia checkout, or ii) waiting for a member of staff to arrive who is prepared to serve you.

Not withstanding the Church of England's thoughtless tweet, it has previously spoken officially on the convoluted concept of 'reasonable accommodation':
Reasonable accommodation is being advanced as a possible means of dealing with the intractability of the issues raised by the cases cited. However, the concept is being defined in two very different ways. The duty of reasonable accommodation has a clear meaning in law, though we have argued that its introduction would do little to resolve the conflicts in the Ladele and McFarlane cases, and that it would bring a number of other practical problems. In the Commission’s own explanation of reasonable accommodation, it is clear that the concept is being defined in a much looser sense, as an aspect of good employment practice, which we would support, namely seeking conciliation and informal resolution of disputes in preference to litigation.

..we suspect that the concept of reasonable accommodation is likely to be either unnecessary (strong version) or ineffective (weak version). In either case, it is unlikely to be of much help in resolving the dilemmas surrounding religious rights and freedoms to which the Commission has rightly drawn attention.
The whole paper is worth reading. The litigation point is not immaterial in this context: if a Christian who desires to purchase wine or bacon felt discriminated against ("injury to feelings") in the provision of goods and services, M&S could be sued. The discrimination is indirect, but manifest nonetheless, and the law is clear.

His Grace doesn't favour boycotts, but M&S have woven their own tangled web. There is now a 'Boycott Marks & Spencer" Facebook campaign, which currently has 7,301 'likes'. That's a lot of irritated customers

On deciding to make all of their toys gender-neutral as of next spring, M&S say they "listened carefully to customer feedback".

Did anything like 7,000 customers demand the eradication of gender in the toy department?


Blogger Hornswoggler said...

So if it is OK for Muslims to refuse to serve customers buying bacon, it is also OK for them to refuse to serve gays. Surely? Can of worms, here!

23 December 2013 at 09:11  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Next headline: sharia-compliant churches.

23 December 2013 at 09:21  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

It should also be acceptable for customers to refuse to be served by muslims.

I hope that M&S are sued as mentioned in YG's posting. If trouble-makers could find money to persecute an innocent couple over who they permit to occupy their B&B then surely someone can muster the cash to put a stop to this creeping muslim effort to distort normal behaviour.

23 December 2013 at 09:31  
Blogger The Explorer said...

When is the ban on owning dogs coming?

bluedog: better change your name.

23 December 2013 at 09:44  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Agreed JiC This is stupidity beyond belief and from M&S of all people.

I am not using their stores in future.

23 December 2013 at 09:46  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Some Muslims are sufficiently offended by the existence of churches in their country to burn them down, as we heard from Orla Guerin on BBC radio 4 Today this morning reporting from the smoking ruins of a Coptic church in Egypt.

We are like hypnotised bandar-log sleepwalking down the throat of Kaa (Kipling, The Jungle Book).

23 December 2013 at 09:47  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

From the window of my place of work I can see the green dome and hammer and sickle (sorry, moon and star) of a mosque.

It offends me.

23 December 2013 at 09:50  
Blogger thumrat said...

A genuine query and not meant to appear like a leading question but would there be moral/ethical grounds for any non-muslim staff to refuse to serve muslims who are purchasing halal meat products?

23 December 2013 at 09:52  
Blogger richardhj said...

John in Cheshire 9:31

If you hear of them being sued, let me know where to send my donation to the prosecution fund.
As for the "gender neutral toys" which three customers did they listen to? Does anyone know anyone who has been consulted?

23 December 2013 at 09:55  
Blogger Nick said...

YG, according to the latest news on the DT, M&S have now backed down on this policy, stating that staff with concerns about handling certain products will work on other tasks, not on the tills. Seems they have responded to the massive and angry customer backlash over the affair.

That makes the CofE's tweet look doubly stupid; they really did back a lost cause.

23 December 2013 at 09:57  
Blogger thumrat said...

It also used to be the case, I believe, that when one worked in the Middle-East that one was advised by the employer to ensure that all St Michael labels were cut off all items of clothing prior to travel...

23 December 2013 at 10:02  
Blogger thumrat said...

Would any Quaker staff be permitted the same leeway?

23 December 2013 at 10:05  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

23 December 2013 at 10:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Are Muslim (and Jewish) employees going to be exempt from placing orders for certain products?

This question interests me. I wonder if the person refusing to serve pork had been Jewish, if they would have been treated differently.

It seems to me that there is a confusion here. Reasonable accomodation ought not to apply except in such cases where the person selling is, by that act in some way participating in an act they believe to be wrong, or where the selling involves something which can be shown to be not ritually wrong, but morally harmful to another. Thus, as a Catholic if I worked in a Chemist, I would sell condoms, but not the morning after pill. I can understand a Muslim refusing to be a wine taster, but I cannot see the problem with selling wine.

Will atheists in bookshops be allowed to refuse to sell Bibles or Qur'ans?

23 December 2013 at 10:11  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The CoE must have a death wish, not only for itself but for the indigenous culture of this nation.

So much for those all those bleating about the so-called nasty pinko/commie/secularists attacking and undermining the bedrock of British Christianity.

Sounds like the church mice are throwing themselves on to the traps before the cheese is even in place.

23 December 2013 at 10:12  
Blogger Darter Noster said...


In lots of large establishments catering for large numbers of customers, like for example service station cafeterias and school dinners, it's entirely possible that all the meat served is halal anyway, particularly if there's a substantial Muslim population nearby.

Lots of large scale caterers have decided that it's a lot easier and safer to make all their meat halal rather than have separate food preparation lines and purchasing separate sets of ingredients. That's why, if possible, I go for pork in these places because at least I know it's not halal.

23 December 2013 at 10:27  
Blogger Albert said...


So much for those all those bleating about the so-called nasty pinko/commie/secularists attacking and undermining the bedrock of British Christianity.

I take it, you've never heard of the Red Dean?!

23 December 2013 at 10:27  
Blogger David B said...

Let us please have an end to this sort of religious privilege.

Another example of much agreement between conservative Christian and atheist liberal though.


23 December 2013 at 10:28  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dreadnaught @ 10:12

Horkheimer, Adorno, Lukacs,Marcuse and Gramsci were all secularists and all very real. We in the West live with the consequences of their thought.

Don't forget that Gramsci's route map for the long march through the institutions of the West included the Church: and the strategy has been immensely successful.

I, as one of the chief bleaters about Cultural Marxism, have always maintained that I find the theological and secular versions of Cultural Marxism indistinguishable. The only difference, probably, is that the secularists are more honest.

St Augustine identified the visible and invisible church -the fake and the real - and the distinction is as true now as it was then. Not all those within the Church have responded to Christ. "I never knew you. Depart from me."

23 December 2013 at 10:31  
Blogger The Explorer said...


Welcome back!

Since my own return to the Blog, I have felt your absence most keenly.

23 December 2013 at 10:32  
Blogger Nick said...

I don't know if anyone has read the DT yet, as I mentioned above, M&S have backed down on this policy this morning :-)

23 December 2013 at 10:34  
Blogger The Explorer said...


My financially-minded neighbour can put on hold his plans to buy shares in veal sausages and turkey bacon.

I suppose two thoughts still hover in the air.

1. Is this a permanent retreat or a temporary setback?

2. What would have happened (and happened next) had there NOT been protest?

At least the pattern for future conduct is becoming clearer.

23 December 2013 at 10:46  
Blogger Nick said...

Hi Explorer

Is it a permanent retreat? I don't know, but I think M&S, and possibly other companies, may be a little shaken by the public outrage. They may think twice next time (assuming they even thought once on this occasion).

If there had een no protest, who knows where it will go next. Ban guide dogs in M&S?

My relief at the backtrack is only marred by the utter PC mind-buggery of the CofE's tweet. What a mess it is!

23 December 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger JohnH said...

Do any Muslim-owned corner shops sell alcohol?

Do any Muslim taxi drivers take alcohol-fuelled passengers home from the pub?

Just wondering.

23 December 2013 at 11:01  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you Explorer!

23 December 2013 at 11:08  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

John H,

I've been taken home from the pub with a Muslim friend, a couple of times from the office Christmas party, who despite not drinking alcohol himself always got a round in when it was his turn, by a Muslim taxi driver, on various occasions.

The problem is not that most Muslims in Britain are zealots, but that many British companies and organisations are incapable of telling the difference, where Islam is concerned, between reasonable respect for religious difference and craven pandering to zealotry.

23 December 2013 at 11:13  
Blogger Len said...

Who`s writing this stuff for the Church of England?.
We in the UK are becoming a joke, the rest of the World can see it but sadly many in the UK cannot.
If we 'bend over backwards' to accommodate every religion except Christianity there is a distinct possibility we are going to end up flat on our back and who knows what will happen then.?

23 December 2013 at 11:29  
Blogger gentlemind said...

This is one of the most important decisions of the year. The unreasonable come cloaked in reason.

23 December 2013 at 11:34  
Blogger richardhj said...

Darter Noster. 11:13

I agree entirely with your second paragraph. I made similar but different points some time ago on another thread which was around the time I was taking lots of taxis. One Muslim driver was complaining about the council for refusing to allow him to fly an English flag and his company for taking on drivers who couldn't speak English. ( He had been required to translate during an interview and then the applicant had got the job)
It is organisations like the council, the taxi company, M&S and the CofE that are pandering to the Muslim zealots that are going to put those zealots in charge one day very soon.

23 December 2013 at 11:37  
Blogger The PrangWizard of England said...

Let's hope we can get an M&S boycott going.

23 December 2013 at 11:41  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

When I was working, I had a Muslim colleague who insisted that he was prohibited from having "the drink made from the fruit of the vine", he had no problem with beer or whisky as they were made from grain!
It would be interesting to know the exact wording in the Koran on the subject, as I suspect, like the Bible, there are many words that can be interpreted in more than one way.
As for M&S, if they refused to serve me at the till, I'd simply leave all the goods on the belt an walk out - Waitrose is just a few steps further down the street.

23 December 2013 at 11:48  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Welcome back !

I've missed your erudite comments.

If M and S are going to be sued for this, I'm happy to contribute to the prosecution fund. This sort of nonsense must be stopped dead in its tracks, shot on sight in fact.

I have been a loyal buyer of their underwear plus other stuff, but my policy has just changed.

23 December 2013 at 11:50  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Darter Noster,

I too ask for pork nowadays as then I know I'm not eating ritually killed meat.

Parts of the C of E are now, I feel, naive if not plain foolish, and therefore unhelpful to "the maintenance of true religion", not to mention our national culture.

23 December 2013 at 11:53  
Blogger Corrigan said...

I've heard it all now, really I have. I mean, presumably Muslims have no objection to being paid from profits made by selling said items to the dirty Kufar, do they? I suppose it's a bit like Muslim mortgages: in theory, the borrower pays no interest, and thus the prohibition on usury is upheld, but in reality, the lender gets back a ganseyload more money than he originally lent - kind of like what the Knights Templar used to do.

23 December 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger Nick said...


I've heard, though I haven't verified it, that all imported meat from New Zealand is halal. It seems that many of us may have been eating halal meat without our knowledge. I think we have the right to know how our meat has been slaugtered. It would be good to get some clarification from the supermarkets on this.

23 December 2013 at 12:03  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Oh dear. What a kerfuffle. I don't think I can help.

23 December 2013 at 12:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ah well you see I doubt that most Jews (well I wouldn't) object to putting through pork or booze if they worked at M&S, as I wouldn't be handling the pork, as it would be wrapped up in plastics and no-one is forcing me to eat it. As for booze,Judaism doesn't forbid drinking of alcohol, so I can enough a fine malt with my herring, although wine has to be made by Jews for it to be 'Kosher'.

But that should not surprise, as the co-founder of this company -way back in 1884- Michael Marks, was an Jewish/Polish immigrant from the Russian Empire.

As for comments here regarding food labeling, I quite agree that how animals are slaughtered should be made clear to the customer, as well as what kind of welfare the animal was given during its life, so people can make an informed choice as exactly what it is they are eating, rather than worrying beef is half horse etc.

Personally,I do find that going to a local butcher's you are more likely to get this info as it is a key selling point- quality (&in my case that the food is certified as 'kosher')- that local shops have over the big boys of the supermarket world, staff by students who don't want to be there or people who say 'the computer says no' types.

23 December 2013 at 12:56  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Hello, Albert, glad to see you back. Everything OK?

If M&S have really decided against sharia exemptions for cashiers, which I trust they have, I think we may draw two conclusions:

1. Employers will be reassured that it's safe to go on employing Muslims as cashiers after all.

2. Archbishop Welby has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

23 December 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ English Pensioner (11:48)—Your Muslim colleague was misinformed. Reliance of the Traveller, a book of Islamic law, says:

‘o16.1 Any beverage that intoxicates when taken in large quantities is unlawful both in small and large quantities, whether it is wine, raisin drink, or something else.’

Alcohol also figures in the list of enormities drawn up by Ibn Hajar Haytami:

‘w52.1 (350-61) drinking wine in any form or other intoxicant, even if only a drop; pressing out the juice to make wine or other intoxicant; pressing it for another person; carrying it for purposes of drinking, or having it carried; selling it; buying it; having it bought or sold; consuming the proceeds from selling it; or keeping wine or other intoxicant.’

By stating that the sale of alcohol is an enormity, Ibn Hajar pours cold water on His Grace’s reasonable assumption that Muslims may handle bottles containing alcohol. Ibn Hajar takes a decidedly liberal line on pork, though, pontificating only that its consumption is an enormity.

23 December 2013 at 14:20  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says, what a bunch of numpties!

Jack thought this might mean not having to pay for pork or for booze. Spot a Muslim, then just go straight through the check-out so as not to cause offence.

Oh well.

23 December 2013 at 16:15  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Happy Jack,

"then go straight through the check-out"

You've been having naughty thoughts ! Just kidding.

Happy Christmas, Happy Jack.

23 December 2013 at 16:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I heard Paul Diamond on Radio 4 this morning trying, and failing to my mind, to walk a tightrope over this issue. Having argued for varied exceptions for Christians, he's in a bit of a tricky position.

23 December 2013 at 16:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

David Hussell, Happy Jack says, not at all. He was just thinking of how to respect the religious views of others whilst also getting his bacon and (occasional) bottle of Morgan's Spiced Rum.


Happy Christmas too David.

23 December 2013 at 17:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've decided to make up a religion following a divine revelation from the almighty. I've got the doctrines, but I can't be arsed to write down the ins and outs of it as the original has been written by the Archangel Michael , with input from St Peter and Jesus , who stopped by for some water(which J turned into wine for them both), on the back of the fag packet I had on me at the time of this revelation. But my new religion -of which I am the one and only true interpreter of - tells me and my followers to take a 10% fee or commission on sales of food and drink. It's the will of the divine and you heathens shouldn't question that!

The question is -Could I get away with this in the courts? If not, why not? My religion is as good as any other and is incidentally the one final and true revelation for the universe!

23 December 2013 at 17:35  
Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

It would appear that the world would have us bow down before all gods with the exception of the one God and Father of all.

23 December 2013 at 17:40  
Blogger Albert said...

David H,

Thank you. Your policy on underwear might have caused difficulty on the grounds of the risk of the material being made of more than one kind of material. Fortunately, the only people for whom this might have been a problem are Jews, and as David K has helpfully pointed out Jews don't normally make such a fuss about these things.

23 December 2013 at 18:07  
Blogger Albert said...

David K,

although wine has to be made by Jews for it to be 'Kosher'.

That's interesting, I didn't know that. Is it Kosher if it is made by Jews, or does it need to be Jews making it in a particular way?

I'm not surprised that Jews are so reasonable on this kind of thing. I suspect many Muslims are too. It is decent of M&S to give Muslims who do have such worries jobs in other departments, but it's hard to see that they should be obliged to do that.

23 December 2013 at 18:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you Uncle Brian, all is okay, thanks be to God.

23 December 2013 at 18:13  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Who on earth wrote that tweet for the CofE? I'm sure it can't be Welby. It must have some racially concerned left wing idiot who needs to be fired forthwith.
The CofE is the Church of this country and I am positive that this tweet does not represent the thoughts of it's members.
When will see a truly representative leadership of the Church?

23 December 2013 at 18:16  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says hello to Albert. Jack is pleased to see you are another chap who wears a hat.

Where is the Inspector these days? And old Blowers? Happy Jack hopes they are both well and wishes them both a Happy Christmas.

23 December 2013 at 18:52  
Blogger clive holland said...

Why was my post deleted? Is YG afraid of the truth expressed in biblical terms? Will you allow me to say that the priests of the church have a habit of agreeing with the last person they spoke to, particularly if they are of a soft left cuddly, cause no offence persuasion. Unlike our Lord, who upset a lot of people.

23 December 2013 at 19:11  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Albert I had heard of the Red Dean but fail to see what that oddity has to do with the CoE Tweet. Anyway sounds like M&S are back-pedaling furiously - unlike the 'tweeter' who is still on record praising them on behalf of the CoE.

Horkheimer, Adorno, Lukacs,Marcuse and Gramsci were all secularists...

And you are linking them to the CoE Tweet? Are you suggesting the CoE is institutionally Marxist?

Neither comments are relative to the OP or my posts in response - keep up chaps and try not to divert the theme.

23 December 2013 at 19:49  
Blogger Patrick Cox said...

The original founders of M&S must be whirling in their graves. I'm afraid they have just lost this customer, I will not darken their door ever again. As for the CofE 'spokesperson', I think they need to consider carefully what they are suggesting here. As Your Grace has said, it opens some dangerous doors, but key to this seems to be the belief that Islam is 'entitled' to all manner of considerations, while those of us who follow a different faith, or no faith at all, are not.

23 December 2013 at 19:50  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness me! So there I was, standing in the queue in fron of the till in the Barchester branch of M&S having purchased several sugar mice to distribute to the children at Dr Wortle's School, when I noticed the person manning the till was none other than Mustafa Fatwah. "Oh no dear lady,' he said waving his hands in the air, 'I cannot serve you! Your mice are not will have to go to another queue.' I pointed out that my mice were sugar mice, so the infernal business about halal could surely not apply. 'Ah but you see dear lady, the management have given me carte blanche to refuse to handle anything I don't want to.' Faced with such arrant stuff and nonsense I did what any self-respecting shopper would do and hit him with my copy of Bishop Berkeley (which I am never without and fits snuggly into my Gladstone). The next time Messrs Marks and Sieff appear at one of my soirees they shall get the same. One draws a line in the sand.

23 December 2013 at 20:17  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Oh yes, I also telegrammed the sender of that CofE tweet. Just the one word. "Cobblers"

23 December 2013 at 20:18  
Blogger Roy said...

Do the diversity-mongers who approve of Marks and Spencer's policy want it to be adopted by the public sector as well? If so, they will soon be demanding in the name of diversity that registrars who object to same-sex "marriage" should be entitled to refuse to conduct such weddings.

After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Merry Christmas everyone, including those of you who disagree with my opinions!

23 December 2013 at 20:21  
Blogger Unknown said...

We Christians really are a beleaguered minority these days! Nobody makes things easy for us do they? but perhaps we should start a general boycott of M&S underwear. That would show them!
A Happy Christmas to YG and all readers and contributors to this esteemed blog.

23 December 2013 at 20:36  
Blogger Nick said...


We probably should not discuss underwear as Mrs Proudie is likely to faint from shock or burst her britches

As to the M&S policy, I can only say...

This not just a Ratner moment, it's an M&S Ratner moment

23 December 2013 at 20:58  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Just for the record, an Orthodox Jew can handle non-kosher food products for sale, especially in a long as he doesn't make it, eat it or drink it. Kashruth is binding only on Jews and non-jews commit no sin by eating non kosher.

23 December 2013 at 21:01  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Nick, Happy Jack will be looking elsewhere for his thermals in 2014. Jack reckons Mrs Proudie will have a bottle of Tar Water to hand to fortify herself.

23 December 2013 at 21:24  
Blogger Nick said...

Happy Jack

I fear that Mr Darcy is already wafting the smelling salts across her nostrils as she lies in a swoon on the floor

23 December 2013 at 21:39  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

The Inspector is rather partial to an unclean bacon sandwich he’ll have you know, and is a devotee to the excellent cellar air dried Parma hams found at M&S, a store he frequents, well, frequently in Gloucester. Although it’s location of late is now in one of those God-help-us shopping malls, he is continually reassured by its predominantly riff raff free clientele of which he is delighted to number himself among.

He also tells you this. If he cannot complete his transaction with the store’s representative that is, he will stand his ground and demand that he be presented with a store’s representative more willing to engage in the kind of commerce more usually associated with leading high street retailers. In Britain, that is – not some blasted ‘stan, where the CoE apparently thinks we are, or would like us to be. (His Grace - “or they will have to wait while M&S find a member of staff who is prepared to serve you.” I say old chap, you have got that right haven’t you ? This isn’t just maple bacon flavoured hot air from the Inspector bubbling up from below, more a plan of campaign…)

There. That’s it. That’s all a fellow wishes to say on the subject.

One last thing. You’re a damnable disgrace, Church of England types responsible for a tweet Chamberlain would approve of, trying to enslave us all to Pharaoh like that. But you already know that, don’t you, you hopeless blighters !!

23 December 2013 at 21:40  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

One has heard antipodean entertainer Mr Rolf Harris has been moved further down Sh_t Street.

Please, let it not be because two little boys have come forward…

23 December 2013 at 21:42  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

...and a late news bulletin. The man responsible for checking late news bulletins for spelling errors died earlier today. He will be sadly pissed...


23 December 2013 at 21:45  
Blogger Nick said...


One notes your new title. Is that a demotion or a particularly bad spelling error?

23 December 2013 at 21:49  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Nick old fellow. One has been raised to be amongst the gods, no less. It was only a matter of time, you know...

23 December 2013 at 21:53  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

I have been making gloe sin... I mean glin soe...or rather sloe gin... Mr Slope says it warms his cockles...I wouldn't know

23 December 2013 at 21:54  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! My Lord the Bishop has been offered the see of Tower Hamlets...I best order more bombazine!

23 December 2013 at 21:56  
Blogger Malcolm Smith said...

Reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs is, well, reasonable. The trouble is, Islam is essentially incompatible with our society. It is so beset by rules that it is essentially impossible for a devout Muslim to live in a non-Muslim country and obey all the rules. (The same is true for orthodox Judaism, but we won't go into that.)
I think the solution offered by Daniel Piper is the best: we won't ban anything Islamic which is otherwise permitted, but will make no concessions for it. After all, they or their parents came to Britain because they knew they would get a better life there, although it ran on Christian principles, and now they must accept the bitter with the sweet.

23 December 2013 at 21:57  
Blogger Nick said...

Mrs Proudie

Whatever you have been making it sounds like you have sampled a lot of it. Perhaps you are taking the Christmas "spirit" too literally?

23 December 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

OK. I'll bite - since a google search revealed nothing but posts on this weblog.

What is an Inspector General in Ordinary?


23 December 2013 at 22:02  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Carl Jacobs. Signifies a fellow is now with the Royal elite. There is no New England colonial equivalent. By the way, the tax outstanding on the tea you ingrates owe us to pay for your defence against the French and native American types. Where is is it ?

23 December 2013 at 22:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

23 December 2013 at 22:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Albert,

I can't say I'm a walking Talmud, but I'll try to answer as best as I can. To answer your question, as I understand matters, the Kosher laws regarding wine and for it to be considered to be Kosher -

1) a Jewish person must be involved in the entire wine making process from the harvesting of the grapes, through fermentation to bottling.Any ingredients used, must be kosher, which to make wine they are, but Kosher wine cannot have fining agents, such as casein, gelatin and isinglass.

2) Be certified as Kosher by your 'local' beth din as Kosher

3)In respect of other alcohol, providing the ingredients & how the booze is made are 'Kosher' (see Beth Din above, for who decides that), then a non Jew can make them and Jews can drink them.

The reason for the difference between wine and other alcohol is because in the ancient middle east wine was often associated with various pagan religious rituals, but also to various Jewish ones as well(e.g. Sabbath, marriage, circumcision, Purim,Passover); Judges 9 verse 13 talks about wine bringing "joy to G-d and man"....So it is important for Jews to avoid the possibility of consuming 'idolatrous' wine... (If Avi wants to add to this or explain further, I'd be grateful, but that's how I was told).

'Ein Simcha Ela BeBasar Veyayin' as we say [roughly meaning "There is no joy except through eating and drinking wine"].

PS- that doesn't mean we endorse drunken behaviour or have no understanding of the problems of alcoholism...

23 December 2013 at 22:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Malcolm Smith,

"The same is true for orthodox Judaism, but we won't go into that"

Yes let's go into that, as you raised it. Please tell me how is it not possible for an Orthodox Jew to live in the UK and 'obey all the rules', which rules are they btw? (we have after all been in England since 1657, after a temporary 'leave of absence' between 1290 and 1656).

23 December 2013 at 22:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspector General,

If you are now up with the nobility, do you have a specific form of address- e.g.- 'the Noble/reverend/the venerable/ Office of Inspector---- etc?

23 December 2013 at 22:41  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dreadnaught @ 10:12

"so-called nasty/pinko commie secularists." 'So-called' suggests to me they aren't really. I gave you the names of those who gave us PC: those who invented the term. Are you telling me PC is only so-called, and not really an issue?

Am I linking them to the C of E tweet? Absolutely. If Gramsci-ism has worked, the tweeter will never have heard of Gramsci, but will still be the product of Gramsci's strategy.

Am I saying the C of E is institutionally Marxist? Don't understand the question. But a Gramscian institution would not declare itself. It would pretend to be something else, while being subverted from within. (Join the organisation you want to destroy by pretending to agree with it.)

Do I think the C of E is Marxist as a whole? Absolutely not. Do I think there are cultural Marxists within it? Absolutely. Hence the Red Dean.

But don't take my word for it. Read Edward Norman's 'Secularisation', and C of E admiration for the "tight little Marxist regime in Cuba". (May not be exact: I'm quoting from memory.}

23 December 2013 at 22:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Yes, about that tax. Unfortunately it was tossed into Boston Harbor by persons unknown. I am sure it is still there if you want to look for it.

Btw, I am sure you would be interested to know that one of my direct ancestors (great .. great grandfather) was an officer at Bunker Hill and is believed to have fired the first shot.


23 December 2013 at 22:51  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

David K . We better types rather like ‘Sir’ as a form of address.

Carl Jacobs. ‘Bunker Hill’ ! Enough, you free loading rascal. After what Marks and Spencer's has done this instant, let there be no more talk of treachery, past or present...

23 December 2013 at 23:12  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Indeed I have dear Nick..hic...hic

23 December 2013 at 23:16  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Mrs Proudie

If gloe sin is involved, do head my way!

23 December 2013 at 23:32  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Carl : 22:02

It must be one of these arcane things, whereby 'Ordinary' means 'Special'.

You know, the way Lieutenant-General is higher than Major-General.

24 December 2013 at 07:20  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

do head my way!

And just how would that be pray tell?

24 December 2013 at 09:11  
Blogger The Explorer said...


The impossibility is the point of the joke.

On our other source of disagreement, I'm sorry to labour the point, but I think the issue is important.

The Cultural-Marxist assertion is that before you can implement the economic revolution you must collapse the existing social order by destroying the religion, the nation and the family. (Lukacs was absolutely open about his efforts to socially engineer the destruction of the family unit.)

Replace the components of the old class war with patriarchal (white heterosexual male) hegemony versus victim groups: women, sexual minorities, ethnic minorities and criminals (as defined by the hegemony in its own interests).

Infiltrate all the social institutions, and preach the new message from within. The constant drip, drip, drip of cultural pessimism to sap the belief system, and the will.

That is why I think the C of E tweet makes perfect sense as the outcome of this agenda.

24 December 2013 at 09:14  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

'So-called' suggests to me they aren't really

Well that's my point really. The expression 'secular/secularist(s)' is used by you and several others as something of a condemn-all detraction when responding to an individual on this blog. It seems to my understanding to be a healthy feature of a democratic State to be secular as opposed to totalitarian.

Some of you struggle to understand the meaning of secularism:

Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike.

Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free from religion.

Secularism is about democracy and fairness. In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.

I think it is what is expressed in the last sentence that irritates you most.

24 December 2013 at 09:43  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Double entendre was the point of mine Mr E - a light-hearted risque asside. My last post crossed but I shall consider your points in due course but later - for now duty calls.

24 December 2013 at 09:47  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dreadnaught @ 09:43 & 09:47

Good points there.

1. Re Mrs P. Just checking you weren't taking Dawkins' 'brights' idea to heart: and thinking believers really WERE that stupid.

2. I agree I use the word 'secular' in a sweeping way. It's the brevity imposed by the blog format. David B's point about the limitations of the genre are very valid.

3. Gilbert Murray, the great classicist atheist, said, "I believe all the great religions of the world to be both untrue and harmful." I imagine he would have thought the opening sentence of your definition to be a really bad idea. One should not pander to superstition. One should phase it out through education.

3. Machiavelli said that before you destroy your enemy, assure him you mean him no harm. Machiavelli thought that religion, although not true, was useful for controlling the mob. But if he'd wanted to wipe out religion, that's exactly the sort of definition he would have written.

4. The Anabaptists said you can't force people to believe. You can't force a state church on people. The church is simply those within the state who believe. That, essentially, is my own position.

24 December 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness, the tangled web of social niceties! I am trying to organise a virtual Christmas dinner in the Great Hall of the Bishop's Palace - but who will be seated next to whom? I would like Happy Jack to my right, and Hannah to his right. On my left I think Mr. Explorer, with Louise to his left. Mr. Slope will sit next to DanJ0 and the Inspector (should prove interesting) with Archdeacon Grantly next to Cressida. Oh the list goes on and on...

24 December 2013 at 11:04  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack is delighted to accept your generous invitation. He is interested too in seeing this Slope chap's intercourse round the dinner table.

Jack suggests each person should be ready to do an after dinner turn of some sort and that the Magic Lantern be banned, apart from Majesty's speech.

24 December 2013 at 11:56  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Her Majesty's Speech is an absolute must, dear Happy Jack. Never fear, I shall have a goodly supply of hobnobs for afters...

24 December 2013 at 13:01  
Blogger The Explorer said...


Sorry at all these dribs and drabs of responses.

All dogs are animals, not all animals are dogs.

All Cultural Marxists are secularists (ie: they hold to a materialist explanation of the world). Not all secularists are Cultural Marxists, (I know atheists who hate communism).

I have tended to blur the distinction, and for that I do apologise.

24 December 2013 at 13:20  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Explorer, Happy Jack says for goodness sake, its Christmas! Give yourself a well earned break. Get yourself in gear for remembering Jesus' birthday and also for Mrs Proudies' virtual Christmas dinner. You're between Mrs Proudie and Louise. You better be on your best behaviour and have plenty of pleasant conversation ready.


A question Mrs Proudie (a real one this time). Will there be a 'Secret Santa'?

24 December 2013 at 13:34  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

No apologies neccessary as far as I am concerned Mr Explorer; we can all too easily be found guilty of making sweeping generalisations or assumptions from time to time without even realising - we're only human.

24 December 2013 at 14:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Explorer:"All Cultural Marxists are secularists (ie: they hold to a materialist explanation of the world). Not all secularists are Cultural Marxists, (I know atheists who hate communism)."

I'm often treated as a so-called Cultural Marxist here simply because I consider fairness to be about treating the relevantly like alike.

Also secularists are not the same as atheists. I know sone Christians who are secularists i.e advocates of a secular State rather than a completely secular society.

Bizarrely, there's a thread lower down where atheism and communism apparently go hand in glove too, such that atheists are communists in waiting.

24 December 2013 at 14:27  
Blogger The Explorer said...


I think you are sometimes treated very unfairly: especially when you are accused of being a libertine.

Your third paragraph is a profound point, but Happy Jack will be after me if I address it now. Perhaps after the festive season.

In the interim, all the best to you. You too, HJ.

24 December 2013 at 14:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Explorer: "I think you are sometimes treated very unfairly: especially when you are accused of being a libertine."

I'd say chance would be a fine thing but obviously I'm Fabulous so that would be a lie. :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

24 December 2013 at 15:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I dunno if this counts as a religious moment but someone on my Facebook locally lost their little dog a couple of days ago and it was spotted (but not caught) and posted within about 20 minutes yesterday evening. Loads of us who didn't even know the couple drove down there to try to find it. After a couple of hours we had to concede defeat. Later, someone posted that the dog has been clipped by a car but had managed to run away and was still at large. I couldn't sleep last night as it was hideous weather and I kept thinking about the dog so I drove around at 3am for about an hour having another look but to no avail.

When I got home I said a little prayer along the lines of "Look, I'm an atheist but if by some chance you do actually exist then that dog really needs to be reunited with its family". Anyway, the plucky little fella apparently turned up at his house at about 4am with a cut leg but otherwise okay, having spent a day and a half roaming around trying to get its bearings. So, there you go. It's hardly a athiest-in-the-trenches moment but hey. A bloody miracle, or serendipity. Also, I started crying this morning when I found out ... no doubt from being tired and emotional. :)

24 December 2013 at 16:04  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Well now, a Secret Santa...we could of course persuade His Grace perhaps? Oh...dash it all, now that wouldn't be secret now, would it...

24 December 2013 at 16:04  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness dear DanJ0, was the road you were driving down the B465 to Damascus by any chance?

24 December 2013 at 16:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm praying for world peace next, Mrs P. Right after a winning ticket for tonight's lottery. Hopefully that's how it works as I'm new to all this. :)

24 December 2013 at 16:15  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Danjo, Happy Jack says he's pleased your prayer was answered and that the dog made it home all safe and sound. Admitting you're an atheist to God took courage too. He could have smitten you on the spot with fire and brimstone!


24 December 2013 at 16:17  
Blogger Len said...

Glad your prayer was answered Danjo, I had the same experience with one of my moggies.

24 December 2013 at 16:21  
Blogger Albert said...

David K,

Thank you for the explanation, which makes a great deal of sense. I'm sureHappy Jack joins me in rejoicing in your new hat.

24 December 2013 at 16:41  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack does Albert and has already commended David on his choice. In Jack's view, all gentlemen should wear hats so they can doff them respectfully when necessary.

24 December 2013 at 17:17  
Blogger Albert said...

Indeed, Happy Jack. The purpose of wearing a hat is to be able to take it off, when appropriate.

24 December 2013 at 19:47  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear DanJ0, that's the ticket! I think I can persuade my Lord the Bishop to appoint you to a prebend at Barchester - I understand Little Whipping is available as is Bobbing Downe...both will bring in some £700 per annum and the duties are modest. One really only has to pay lip service...

24 December 2013 at 20:56  
Blogger William Lewis said...


I'm glad to hear that your prayer was, apparently, answered and it's good to know that you're persevering too; with world peace and the lotto!

Keep pestering Him, I say.

24 December 2013 at 21:28  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Still no word on the Secret Santa...

24 December 2013 at 21:46  
Blogger thumrat said...

Oh Mrs Proudie, you do make me chortle after a fashion.

If it isn't a personal question are you a naughty thing in private? I get the sense you certainly are.


25 December 2013 at 00:30  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! Naughty? Moi? My dear Mr. Thumrat, I am a prelate's wife and as such have no sense of humour...

25 December 2013 at 00:45  
Blogger thumrat said...


Please do forgive the impertinence.

I was only hoping for a shag.

A wonderful tobacco. You seemed like the kind of lady who might offer a poor chap some.



25 December 2013 at 05:30  
Blogger thumrat said...

Only with your good husbands permission of course.

25 December 2013 at 05:31  
Blogger thumrat said...

I assume he wouldn't want to film the enjoyment of such shag?

For subsequent health and safety action where third party inconvenience is concerned.

We do live in such politically correct times wouldn't you agree?.

One can never be too careful these days.

Deeply yours,


25 December 2013 at 05:45  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness Mr Thumrat, you have managed to rattle my stays and no mistake! I will send you a churchwarden by the penny post - Mr Slope says to enjoy a good shag you need a churchwarden in your mouth...

25 December 2013 at 09:35  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Mrs Proudie!

Roll on that virtual dinner. I can see you need a sobering influence on either side of you.

Jack, don't you dare laugh at anything she says! Me, I wouldn't recognise a joke if it sloped right up to me.

Mrs P: I trust the repast will consist of dry bread and water?

25 December 2013 at 10:17  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Explorer, Happy Jack suspects dear Mrs Proudie has been opening more than presents this morning. Still, she has had a trying year and she is entitled to put her feet up. You'll recognise the punch-line if 'sloped' from behind, trust Jack.

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack asks if you've been at the sherry so soon? Jack much prefers a nice rolling golden Virginia to a shag. A much smoother experience. Slope wouldn't know about such matters.

25 December 2013 at 11:02  
Blogger The Explorer said...

You're on great form, Jack.

Just make sure Mrs Proudie, doesn't hear!

25 December 2013 at 11:25  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Christmas Day always makes Happy Jack feel very childlike and playful. Jack enjoyed church last night. Everybody dressed up properly to pay homage to our King and to rejoice at his presence with us. All the singing and ceremony was fantastic. Jack is only learning to follow all its meaning but it is all so splendid and he wished he knew more. The words were all so beautiful. He has resolved he will discover more in the New Year.

Happy Jack will be going out soon to enjoy Christmas dinner with his dear lady friends in their home. They always take a keen interest in Jack's little stories and in Jack's songs. Jack reads them tales from his fairy tale books after dinner and takes requests for songs. They sing along and clap their hands too. Jack also throws in the odd Tommy Cooper or Les Dawson joke. These ladies do like the occasional risqué story and one has to keep one audience entertained.

Enjoy your dinner Explorer and you too Mrs Proudie.

25 December 2013 at 12:04  
Blogger thumrat said...

Oh my word Mrs Proudie....

What a kerfuffle you've created.

I did what you kindly suggested....

The pastor said I needed to suck elsewhere than in a house of God.

I am rather confused.

Is your abode free for such purposes?

Very much deeply and ultimately yours on request.

Mr T.

25 December 2013 at 13:49  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! Me, causing a kerfuffle? Never! The only tipple I had this morning was Communion wine, though a couple of bottles of claret and Pouilly Fume did grace the dining table soon after. I don't know who this Virginia is, dear Happy of your lady friends perchance? And Mr. T. one suspects you are somewhat of a sauce box...

25 December 2013 at 18:52  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

The Inspector is rather partial to an unclean bacon sandwich he’ll have you know, and is a devotee to the excellent cellar air dried Parma hams found at M&S, a store he frequents, well, frequently in Gloucester.

The Inspector hasn't tried bacon sandwiches in their supreme incarnation until he's employed thickly sliced Hungarian lean (about 70% meat) smoked bacon sizzled over charcoal until it's all crispy and curly, and seasoned with freshly ground Szeged paprika and crushed garlic. Italian hams are OK...fine, and cultured and all that... but for a unique taste zinger, it's Virginia hams, or even better, rustic Quebec maple sugar cured hams.

Been strictly kosher for nearly 20 years now, so no such delicacies for me, but there is no law against fond memories or recommendations to non-jewish friends.

25 December 2013 at 20:28  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Ah dear dear Avi, having read your post above I have order our butler, Spasm, to serve bacon sandwiches at breakfast tomorrow...Our houseguest, the Bishop of St. Ogg's, is partial to a bit of crackling...

25 December 2013 at 21:27  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

25 December 2013 at 22:47  
Blogger Jan said...

Muslims are a protected species, they are voters all efforts must be made to be PC or M&S will not be liked. Shop elsewhere folks.

28 December 2013 at 14:39  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Just think of all the £££s you save if you never buy any more food at that vastly overpriced food emporium.

The latest tale involves a Muslim lady in Reading refusing to put through a book of bible stories as it was unclean. The lady being served reportedly, and I am uncertain of this story, fled the store without her shopping it upset her so much.

If M & S wants to employ these extremist nutcase Muslims (& there are plenty of much saner ones) in any number to work at the checkout and insult people then they are assuredly signing their own death warrant.

Sooner or later a customer with more backbone will decide to make a drama out of it and embarrass the store. Like loudly persistently and calmly questioning at the checkout whether someone who is supposed to be serving should be patronisingly terming items and people as "unclean". That would spook the store no end. If checkout people cannot cope with the public arena they should keep out of it.

I wonder who has the greater death wish- M & S, the C of E, the conservative party or the liberal party?

30 December 2013 at 17:25  

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