The Bishop of Madchester was delivering his lecture on women and bishops to the assembled bishops. His first slide was of signs on public toilets for men and women.
"Now my fellow Bishops, I begin by showing you these. They are photographs of toilet entrances taken from a local shopping centre. On the left you can see a symbol of a person with two long legs. That we take it is the gender of a man, like we assembled here. And on the left, with that inverted V that partly covers the legs, that we take it is the gender of a... woman. And in the shopping centre, there are one of these for a woman for every one for a man."
"Goodness me," said one bishop, "do you mean some men go shopping?"
"Yes," said the Bishop of Madchester, "and some women go to work." A second slide showed a woman with a briefcase walking alongside men.
"Rubbish," another bishop said from the back.
"Now nearly all of us understand women, don't we, because if you remember, for some of us we got married near the end of theological college so that none of the churches we visited would think we weren't attracted to women. And so we understand women from the creatures who share our beds at night."
"Doesn't affect me," said the Bishop of Horse and Ham, sat among the assembled. "No women ever shared my bed."
"Nor me," said another
"Nor me," said yet another. "I came into the Church to be my own woman," he added.
"Nor me," said another, "though I do have a few friends who are women."
"Gosh," said another.
The Bishop of Madchester continued. "But women do other things too, and we have already mentioned going shopping. But, fellow bishops, they go to work, and some of them are in charge of other women..."
"I think I know what's coming," said one in the audience.
"And some are in charge of men." A third slide showed a woman at a desk.
At which point the rate of coughing and spluttering shot up, and many of the assembled tweaked their fine collections of whiskers.
"My Lord Bishop of Madchester, this is the Church of England," said one.
"So in order to catch up again, I have some proposals, by which we can provide complimentary male only bishops and with such a code of conduct some of you can go on ignoring that toilet door sign or even having to think that a woman might be in the same bed as you." A fourth slide showed a pointy hat.
And thus a set of proposals were ready to be launched at the February 2009 Church of England Synod.
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