When under a lot of stress I have sometimes – both in this blog and elsewhere – threatened to hie me to a nunnery. I have yet to make good on this threat, mostly due to concerns about my ability to pass the physical. Then again, if I use Sister Josephine by Jake Thackeray as my source (and this is my go-to document for convent-life), this may be less of an obstacle than it may at first appear. On the plus side, I am already pretty darned chaste and have been known to hang around an art gallery!
Recently the news suggested that I may not be the only person with a hankering to wear a wimple given the reported trebling of the number of new nuns over the last five years. This is a much less impressive statistic when you realise the total number of new nuns in 2014 was only 45. One has to worry that this isn’t even keeping up with natural wastage as a result of nuns either shuffling off this mortal coil (and I do think of nuns as having a similar age profile to the classical music audience) or losing their vocation.
Do we need to be protecting our nuns as an endangered species and setting up special reserves for them? Normally, I might suggest importing nuns from overseas to augment the declining UK population (which is, of course, not a breeding population – or at least shouldn’t be) but as I learned on a recent edition of More-Or-Less this is prevented by immigration legislation. Apparently, we are concerned about foreign nuns damaging employment prospects or the salaries of British nuns. Despite my O-level in Religious Studies, I am no theologian (though probably good enough for the CofE) but I’m pretty sure that neither employment prospects nor salary should be of interest to a nun: poverty being along with chastity one of the key qualifications for the role.
You might wonder why I am so concerned about this loss of the convent-bound from these shores. Well, I have for several years now being playing a highly competitive game of Nun! – well as James Sherwood, the UK’s greatest living practitioner of the game, has said, “You are always playing Nun!“. Without the key raw material for the game player being available, I fear new players will not choose to learn the game but will be attracted by all the radio money now pouring into Yellow Car.
I think this may be my most niche and BBC Radio 4-centric post yet – and that is really saying something (to paraphrase the unholy trinity of Bananarama).