I admit no responsibility for this document, but I had sight of it prior to the meeting and might even have contributed somewhat. I was present, smiling in as non-committal a manner as possible, while Maljie delivered it at the public meeting. Personally I dread the occasion, we always get the fourth great lie.
In case you don’t know them, the first three great lies are, “I’m from the authorities and I’m here to help you.” The second is, “Of course I’ll still love and respect you in the morning.” The third is, “But I’ve just sent the money by special messenger.” The fourth, restricted largely to temple wardens is, “The Log Book and Terrier are up to date.”
Still, here is Maljie’s report.
Thanks to the presence of two flagellants, on temporary loan from the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect of the Personification of Repentance, in Avitas, we saw an increase in attendance at our midweek services during the first half of the year. Certainly their preaching brought more people into the Shrine and they will be warmly remembered for their humility, willingness to mortify the flesh, and their gracious good humour.
Another success has been the occasional autumnal evening service. These were held after a communal supper, at which we served apple cake, apple pie, and cider. The singing afterwards was never less than rousing and brought a tear to the eye.
Attendance figures for our regular services remained steady, with a slight dip in the number attending some major festivals, but with more community involvement in our open air services.
The overnight silent meditation for widows and widowers was a mixed success. It was well attended. All present considered it a worthwhile exercise, and heartily recommend we do it again. On the other hand, the mendicants complained that the noise kept them awake all night.
The social event and fundraising diary was full. We pushed a printed card under the door of every house in Exegesis Square and the streets nearby. This invited everybody to come and ‘Celebrate the lost and share a drink with new friends.’ The idea was to reach out to the bereaved. Regrettably an unfortunate spelling mistake in the word ‘lost’ meant that many people came with an entirely different idea as to what was supposed to happen. Still it was an excellent evening and many people did indeed make new friends.
Our annual gift day also went well, with people bringing things they didn’t need. The idea is that we exchange things over a soothing glass of infusion and a nice piece of cake. This year there was an increase in the number of books swapped, as well as some furniture. Also several people disposed of unwanted spouses and in one case, a widowed father.
On the fund raising side, we received the usual generous donations from the city’s financial community. The donors all asked to remain anonymous, which I feel shows their humility. Two potential donors who weren’t spontaneously moved by a spirit of generosity are currently discussing their part in a complicated fraud case with the authorities. They, alas, face the prospect of heavy fines, if not incarceration. I trust that we shall not see any negativity from potential donors next year.
Also we must be generous with our thanks to Lord Cartin and his mercenary company. We invested some temporarily surplus funds in last year’s expedition to Partann, and they have indeed repaid us with interest. Not only will the extra money be put to good use, but the newly acquired candlesticks and altar frontal do look particularly splendid.
With regard to building work, it has been decided to extend the privy. At the moment it is only a three-seater, but given the number of people from around Exegesis Square who sneak in to use it when they think we’re not looking, it is obvious that we need something larger. Thus the plan is to extend the privy to a ten-seater. Obviously with this facility, the couple of holes in the door to admit light are not going to be adequate. So the current plan is to fit windows all down the side facing the square. This will admit adequate illumination and we are setting up a separate fund to provide glass for the windows.
One success has been that the shrine is now warmer and more watertight. The blocking up of a number of windows, with a double skin of bricks, well separated, has provided excellent insulation. Also we have managed to acquire sponsorship for the windows and the work done has in point of fact generated considerable income.
We are now looking for funds to renovate our recently acquired Hydraulis or water organ. The generous donor, a widow with no children, left us the instrument which had belonged to her late husband. She included with it the instruction that we should play it on every conceivable occasion. Just like her late husband did.
This year the Parochial Shrine Council was summoned seven times to hear senior clerics sent to explain to us the current reorganisation of the Order at city and province level. They also attempted to explain how it would impact upon us and how we work within the community. It has to be admitted that these meetings have not been an entire success. There was a vague sense that we heard them in the wrong order, and somehow it would have been more comprehensible if we’d heard some of them either earlier in the year or not at all. There again, at one meeting, the Archhierophant who was supposed to address us was unfortunately unable to attend but sent a minion. This individual appeared to have even less idea about what was supposed to be going on than we did. Still, I feel the incumbent was correct to remonstrate with the committee when they started throwing buns at him.
Still there is a feeling that we might see something positive coming from a Conclave of the Combined Hierarchs and their staffs at any point in the next five to ten years. Certainly there is a feeling that great things are afoot.
On a positive note we did receive a message congratulating us on being one of the few shrines to institute this year’s suggested reforms without cavilling. It must be confessed that we allowed ourselves to bask briefly in this unsolicited praise while the sub-hierodeacon was sent to discover exactly what reforms we had instituted. Apparently the letter detailing these reforms had been knocked onto the floor unopened. Then one of the mendicants found it and had stuck it under the right back leg of the offertory table that you will all pass on the way out of the shrine. Given that the table now stands square and solid, it has been decided to leave the letter there, where it serves a useful purpose.
Looking forward to next year, a lot of our focus will be on raising money for the endless building and maintenance repairs. It has to be stressed that giving is a celebratory and joyous act. Our regular donors are reminded that the alternative is neither celebratory nor joyous.
Also we have seen the need to increase our budget for catering. One or two people have commented on the increased spending on wine. This is not a sign of increased consumption, but rather a decision was taken at the highest level to increase the quality. It is not fitting, indeed it is actively disrespectful, to celebrate Aea by drinking cheap, sour, wine in her ‘honour.’ Indeed after the decision had been taken and better wine had been provided, we noticed not only an increase in the number of people attending our celebratory services, but also an increase in verve and enthusiasm. Admittedly there have been one or two unfortunate incidents, but really, larger ladies who intend to move with vigour and passion ought to check the security of their underpinnings first.
Finally, the Log Book and Terrier are up to date.
It may be that you wish to know more about the activities of Shrine of Aea in Her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm. Available from Amazon as an ebook or paperback.
Available from everybody else at
As a reviewer commented, “When I pick up a Tallis Steelyard book I know I am going to have the most enjoyable of rides start to finish. There will be social comment and cynicism, there will be intriguing concepts and fascinating settings, there will be battles of wit and cunning plans, but two things above all will stand out – the incredibly interesting characters and the wonderful moments of both subtle and laugh-out-loud humour.
The author has an eye for personality quirks and the humorous possibilities in just about every occasion, and seldom leaves either unexploited to the full.
This book was, however, something I embarked upon with a little more trepidation that usual when approaching a Tallis Steelyard book, because unlike the collections of vividly imagined and portrayed cameos which I have come to know and love, this is an entire novel.
Yes, there are still those wonderful cameos, but there is also a rare opportunity to follow Tallis through an unwitting adventure, all thanks to the indomitable Maljie of course. The way Jim Webster writes, I was sitting in the hot air balloon along with them.
If you enjoy Tallis Steelyard in shorts, you will enjoy as much in long form. If you have yet to make his acquaintance, then dive right in and do so, but hang onto your hat it’ll be a very wild ride!”