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Preferment

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Robert was sitting in a taxi and about to check whether the new Bishop of Sherwood had been announced, when he realized that he actually didn’t want to know.

It would undoubtedly be someone he knew, that went almost without saying. Quite possibly someone he was at college with, it was his generation’s turn. He could certainly name a number of likely candidates.

He wasn’t one of them. Obviously. He probably wasn’t going any further.

The reason why was just as obvious.

His Blackberry buzzed. New text. “Meeting running over won’t have time to get to waitrose have booked table at La Gaffe @ 8. OK? x.”

He could be a bishop still, probably. He was qualified, he was intelligent and competent and decisive, which put him ahead of quite a few of the diocesans, never mind the suffragans – Christ, if there was ever a perfect example of the Peter principle at work it was the House of Bishops. The average bishop today was a middle management type with predictable and boring pretentions and a predictable and boring wife. Or unmarried, with a predictable and boring devotion to a predictable and boring mother. The wife was off the cards, but he could make himself acceptable, it had been done before and he’d been discreet enough to get away with it (he wasn’t going to let the press and the evos turn him into the new Jeffrey). He could do it. They’d both said long ago that they wouldn’t get in each other’s way.

A press release from Southwell diocese had hit “Thinking Anglicans”, his Blackberry informed him. David Horrobin. Complete non-entitity. Big on Fresh Expressions, but he’d never heard him say or do an interesting thing.

He could be a bishop, he thought. He’d be a good one. Better than most of the current crop. And the church needed strong, intelligent leadership, no-one could deny it, it needed someone who understood the way the world worked and could talk to it in a way it understood. Horrobin hadn’t had an original thought in his life, he couldn’t even make a Church Times book review interesting.

He could do the job, though. He could. Would it make him happy? What did that matter? It would be satisfying, and he could do a good job. Practically his duty… No, that was going too far. His duty was here, keeping the archdeaconry in order. And if this was all there was?

He’d only have to give up one thing, after all, and they’d talked about how it might be necessary… Oh, it wasn’t fair, but he’d known it wouldn’t be, he’d made that choice a long time ago, and now the only choice he got was how he was to live with it.

He didn’t know the answer to that any more.

His Blackberry buzzed again. “8 OK?”

He sighed. “Yes, great. See you then.” He paused, his free hand brushing absent-mindedly over his cross. Then he typed, “Love you. R”, and hit “send”.