If there's one complaint I have about my diocese, it's that the weather is dashed inconsistent. If the morning is nothing but sunshine and blue skies, no sooner will I have rearranged my schedule to accommodate an afternoon constitutional across the links than a V-shaped depression will enter from off-prompt to soak with rain whatever doesn't get blown across the river.
The weather inside the chancery can be even less predictable.
So it was one morning, when I looked up from my eggs and b. to admire the dappled sunlight in the garden outside. I can't swear there was a snail on a thorn within view, but I definitely saw a lark on the wing.
I was asking myself, not for the first time, what it was about thorns that snails found so attractive, when I became aware of the presence of Monsignor Reeves, my secretary.
"What ho, Reeves," I said, toasting him with orange juice.
"Good morning, your Excellency," Reeves answered. "If I may say so, you seem in high spirits today."
"I am indeed. You know, Reeves," I went on, since the occasional comment has led me to suspect that Reeves is not altogether satisfied with the average depth of conversation in the house, "it seems to me that Aquinas could have saved us all a lot of trouble if, instead of going into the whole Five Proofs of the Existence of God wheeze, he had merely said, 'Sunny summer mornings, Q.E.D.'"
"An insightful observation, your Excellency. You are perhaps alluding to the thought of Richard Swinburne, whose book --"
I set down my glass firmly. "Now, Reeves, I'm not as well read on all these poets as you are, but I do recall something about this Swinburne fellow, and I hardly see what any of that has to do with a beautiful morning."
"You would seem, your Excellency, to have in mind Algernon Swinburne, the Victorian poet whose verses --"
"Yes, your Excellency?"
"I was merely commenting upon the fine weather."
"Yes, your Excellency."
"Swinburnes should not be multiplied beyond necessity, wouldn't you say?"
"A prudent policy, your Excellency."
Reeves is a capital secretary, but if you give him his head in these matters, in no time he will be informing you of the trade policies of King Kapataputti of Ongalangala, died 1405, and their influence upon the harmonic minor scale. All fascinating stuff, of course, but a bit much to follow before you've finished your second cup of tea.
We went on to discuss my schedule for the day, neither of us imagining that the day was lurking behind the door in my office swinging a sock filled with sand.