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The Lads: Rector, restaurateur and County councillor, schoolmaster, retired cricketer and his wife the Turf trainer, and retired Premier Leaguer turned activist. The main character sheet is here.

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The Lads

The Rector, the schoolmaster, the retired cricketer and his wife, the chef, and the ex-footballer … who don't quite realize they are among the Great and the Good of the District. Began as True Companions; have by now been through enough (even unto a Bar Brawl) to be a Band of Brothers (united in part in impatience with the Duke's forever quoting from Henry V).note 

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    Father Noel Paddick BA (Oxon) MA (Oxon) BTh (Oxon) MA (Liturgy) (Coll Resurrection Mirfield / Sheff) SSC, Rector 

The Rev'd by the end of Evensong, Canon Noel John Paddick SSC, Rector:

Saintly, sporty, doggedly humble Anglo-Catholic rector of the Combined Benefice.

Paddick, Canon Noel John SSC, Woolfont Magna Rectory, Woolfont Magna, Wilts. – Keble Coll. Oxon BA MA; College of the Resurrection (Mirfield) MA (Liturgy) (Coll Resurrection Mirfield / Sheff); S Stephen's Ho. Oxon BTh. Deac. and Pr. by Bp of Lichfield. R. of Combined Woolfonts Benef. (S Margaret Woolfont Magna, S Aldhelm Woolfont Crucis, & SS Mary & Leonard Woolfont Abbas), Dio. Sarum (Patron, HG the D. of Taunton), & The Somerfords (Somerford Mally with Somerford Canons alias Canonicorum, Somerford Tout Saints with Lamsford, Cliff Ambries with Shifford Ombres and Combe Woddley als Waddlycombe) and Harstbournes (Chalford Mallet with Hawksbourne, Harstbourne Fitzwarren with Harstbourne Sallis and Harstbourne Fratrum als Friars), Dio. Sarum (Co-Patrons, HG the D. of Taunton, the Ordinary, & the Master of Dilton). Ex officio Vice-Chairman, Board of Governors, the Agincourt Housing Association Trust. Chaplain, Tisbury Station, Wilts Fire & Rescue Service; Chaplain, Beechbourne Free School; Chaplain, Woolfonts Combined CC. Served title S Martin Rough Hill. Formerly C. of S Martin Rough Hill & S Stephen Wolverhampton & of S James the Great Lower Gornall, Dudley. Author, The Depth of Love Divine: John Wesley, the Caroline Divines, and the Oxford Movement (var. title, The Depth of Love Divine: John Wesley & the Anglo-Catholic Tradition); The Beauty of Holiness and the Poetry of Grace: Andrewes, Donne, Ken, and Ferrar; and All Evil and Mischief: essays in theodicy, free will, & the problem of evil.
The Clerical Directory

A gentle man, but tough when he needs to be; widower of the late Pauline, ''née'' Stamford; nowadays celibate, he and Sher Mirza being to his surprise chastely in love and too conscientious to act on it; a sickly child turned handsome and athletic, and unashamed of his Black Country origins beneath the sharp brains and Oxford education.

The Duke: "Noel's perfectly capable of drowning himself tomorrow trying to save, not even a parishioner, but a parishioner's kitten; or [dying] from some contagion acquired in visiting the ill with no thought for himself."

  • The Ace: He would deny it. It's not about an ace, it's a matter of Grace.
  • Against My Religion: Sacrifices sometimes are required of one. Which is why he and Sher are a Chastity Couple.
    "The sacrifice – like all sacrifice – often seems unbearable; and unjust. But God has his reasons, and those reasons, being his, must be good."
  • All-Loving Hero: And not merely as a job requirement. Even the worst of people can repent, he's certain, and that means it's a White and Grey Morality world. And in that sort of world.... All you need is love. Well, that and a good right hook, clear principles, and the aid of the Holy Ghost.
  • Badass Bookworm: Zigzagged. In mufti and not knowing who and what he is, no one would dream of giving him guff; in a cassock, though, they think him soft despite the thews and muscles, and if they know he's a scholar as well.... They think they can get by with bullying or evildoing in his presence, poor dears. Such people Have Chosen Poorly.
  • Badass Preacher: With a strong dose of Papa Wolf. Threaten him and he will pray for you. Threaten his flock, and he will administer the Last Rites to you or take your burial service after he's dealt with you. He punched out a professional footballer who was misbehaving, for God's sake. One punch.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He will of course turn the other cheek. His. He will defend everyone else. As. Necessary. By Good Old Fisticuffs or otherwise.
  • Bi the Way: He was never revolted by the bare possibility he might love a man; he just never expected it to happen. Of course, as Sher Mirza is Sher Mirza, this may be a case of If It's You, It's Okay bordering on (now that Noel's wife is dead) Single-Target Sexuality.
  • Blasphemous Praise: The Rector regards anyone's ascribing any special qualities or virtues to him (rather than to God's Grace working through him ex officio) as being this, and as approaching Unwanted False Faith. And gently reproves it.
    On recording services for those in hospital or care home, to which he reluctantly accedes: "Just don't you, I beg, make it all about me, or promote me as a telly star or the focus of the Mass. The Mass has a focus, and I am not he."
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: He knows just what he and Sher could be if things were otherwise, if certain things were allowed.
    "You're the only person – never mind my general orientation – the only one I can imagine would be what Pauline was to me. I'd be as happy to wake to you as to take you to bed, and we'd not bore each other, in love or life, for fifty years. If we were allowed. Because you are beautiful, and I mean your mind and heart, not just the body that ages. But your soul… That's even more precious and beautiful. I'll not do that to you; you'd not ask that of me. We are not allowed. I would, like a shot, if we could."
    and,
    "From a purely secular and pagan perspective, I don't think, truly, anyone can look at the two of us and not realise we'd have a preposterous amount of fun in bed. And we'd be, in secular terms, very compatible out of it as well."
  • The Cape: Averted. (Unless you meant The Cope, or some other vestment....) For that matter, he's not a Non-Powered Costumed Hero, unless you count a cassock. He earned that Heroic Build ("ware and waking, up betimes, combining his matutinal physical exercises with his spiritual, before Mattins and a very full day": he prays while doing press-ups, or vice versa), and he really doesn't have superpowers, not even Emotion Control, not being Born Lucky, and assuredly not HeartBeatDowns. And hesychasm[1] is not a superpower: the power of prayer is the opposite of "magic." (It only ''looks'' like it sometimes.) Fr. Paddick however will insist that it's all simply the fruits of the Spirit and the Grace of God, and available to all who answer the calling. (The Rural Dean who covers his parishes looks forward to not being Noel's confessor if Fr. Bohun will take it on: he's not sure even Fr. Bohun's good enough to be, but is sure he isn't.)
  • Carpet of Virility: According to Edmond, who has seen the whole male population of the District in changing rooms and cannot help taking notes and keeping score.
  • Chastity Couple: He and Sher are who and what they are. Conscience demands – specifically, In-Universe, their consciences demand – they remain an Anchored Ship. (To plenty of In-Universe pushback.)
  • Determinator: Not personally. As an agent for his boss. And under orders.
  • The Fettered: And personally considers he needs the fettering. Although he doesn't regard it as a fetter. Something about easy yokes, light burdens, and service to God being perfect freedom, you know.
  • The Four Loves: He runs his life on them. Explicitly.
    "If love means anything, it is to wish the best for any whom one loves, in the wholeness of their selves. I am a priest of God in the Church of England. He is an observant and, as I believe, truly a devout Muslim. Each of us knows what is required of us, and of one another, by our faiths. Even were I willing to be false to my undertakings, he'd not, I think, allow it, at the end of the day; as I'd not allow him, even for my own advantage, to be false to himself and his conscience. To that extent, in storge, in philia, and in agape, we love each other, fiercely and increasingly devotedly; and for that reason, we'll never love in eros, God's Grace preventing and guarding us."
  • Gentleman Snarker: If pressed: some wolves which threaten his sheep require one approach, some, another, and a few of his own flock can be reached in no other way (… Your Grace). But the snark is gentlemanly.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: He's a bookish badass who was sent to Oxford on full bursary because he was just that bright.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Good shepherds of their flocks are hell on predators. Noel will literally charge (has literally charged) a burning cottage with nothing to aid him but holy water, to save a life; drop a harassing groper turned violent with one punch (he was a schools boxing champion, after all); and call out anyone who needs calling out, dustman or – assuredly – Duke.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: He won't disagree. He'll merely tell you that "old-fashioned" is a weak term for something objective, eternal, and unchanging. (Drives Edmond mad, that....)
  • Good Shepherd: A … well, canonical example.
  • Has a Type: Sher looks a good deal like Noel's late wife … pursuant to Rule 63. As Noel's late wife's brother points out ("he looks more like Pauline's brother than I do").
  • The Hero: No matter how many of the others In-Universe think him so, he rejects the idea he's anything of the sort.
  • Hidden Depths: Measureless to man, actually. Boxer, rower, scholar, author, theologian, master of pulpit rhetoric (not that he thinks himself so), singer, gardener, saint.... And he can bench-press you, and beat-box as he does it.
  • Hot for Preacher: A nigh-universal In-Universe object of this.
  • Humble Hero: He's merely doing what the Lord commands, and not by his own worth or strength....
    From one of his sermons: "We say – so often we no longer mean it or attend to what we are saying – we can 'do all things through Christ which strengtheneth' us. God forgive us, we say it smugly. We're barking mad to be smug about it. Because the corollary is that we cannot do much of anything except through Christ's giving us strength."
    • Also, when the Duke determines that both Noel's parents (as is Truth in Television quite often in the UK: vide the Middletons) have Blue Blood as well as working-class antecedents, and that Steve Paddick ought therefore to apply for a grant of arms, Noel is unmoved. The Duke thinks he has to argue him into it ("in any case it'll be a nephew of yours or his heir ultimately inherits the arms, it seems, and it's not as if you'd be required to use 'em if you don't like, although there's a tradition of ecclesiastical heraldry in the C of E, and it'll give you something for the stall-plate in the cathedral" as a shoo-in for canon), and doesn't let Noel get a word in. Afterwards, Noel wryly and privately tells Sher that if he had got a word in, he'd have told the Duke it was to him "a thing indifferent, an adiaphoron."
  • Hunk: In his character, he's Captain Carrot in a cassock; in his looks, he's been called In-Universe, several times, "Becks in a biretta." And, yes, Even the Guys Want Him.
  • Ideal Hero: Yes. (Ignore his protests that he's not a or the hero at all, and none of this is his worthiness....)
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: He is insistent that he is a mere servant of God and the people of God, and not a particularly important or impressive one. And he means it.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Apparently. But, as he will lampshade by the bushel, not in or through his own strength.
  • Kirk Summation / Last-Second Chance: He'll always beseech you to repent before … intervening. Be you stranger or sexton.
  • Manly Gay: Subverted, in that it's a stretch to call him gay or bisexual. Manly, though, certainly.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-Universe. In accordance with canon law in the C of E, Noel is almost always in clerical clothing. But there are recognized exceptions: gardening, for one, in a tank-top (vest) and shorts; and at the seashore, accompanying the local children on a holiday. The first instance caused a visiting American lady tourist to mistake him for the (work-shy) sexton, whose job he was doing (lampshaded afterwards by Fr. Campion with a reference to Mary Magdalene and the risen Christ: "she, supposing him to be the gardener..."). The second...
    "Noel, for once free of the canons he so assiduously followed (notably C 26 and C 27), was out of his cassock, and, sun-kissed, into the water or onto a body-board or aboard a sailboard in nothing save a Speedo or a wetsuit as occasion dictated. Sher had become so soon weary of averting his eyes and suppressing his whimpers [snip] that he had actually thrown himself into … trotting along Poet's Walk with the duke and the more swottish contingent of young people, lecturing improvingly on Wordsworth and Coleridge."
  • Morality Chain: Has one. One … in three persons, "neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the essence...."
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: The Anglican position is that all are "far gone from original righteousness," not that mankind is hopelessly corrupt and totally depraved.note  Father Pads is prone to point out that God thinks us all worth saving – via his own Heroic Sacrifice – because of what we can be when saved.
  • Patron Saint: As a High Church, indeed Anglo-Catholic, rector, Noel takes seriously the patronal festivals in his combined benefice: Margaret of Antioch, Aldhelm,note  Leonard, and the BVM. And when the service requires a sermon or homily, he will bring the saint whose feast day it is into focus – and knows them backwards and forwards, and trusts to their intercessory assistance.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Specifically, brown ones. Yet another reason why everyone wants to take him home and feed him soup.
  • The Quiet One: He's sometimes on another plane. Well, much of the time, really.
    The Breener, to Edmond: "'Noel's not ever lost in his own head,' scoffed The Breener, whose specialities were omniscience and interrupting people. 'He's lost in God's.'"
    • Although he himself deprecates the idea, on the grounds that a parish priest cannot be a monastic solitary lost in personal mysticism, but must work in the world around him.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Well, he does. And prays that all shall. But Grace and the individual conscience must do the conversions; he can only state the position of the Church and call them to the feast.
  • Respected by the Respected: The Bishop, who is not of his views on many things, plans to make him a suffragan as soon as he's served enough time, and have him canonized when he dies. The Cathedral Chapter, whose Dean is on the other side of every controversy in the C of E to him, lobbied to make him a canon. The Duke presented him to the livings, and actually submits to his spiritual authority. The Nonconformists beg him to lecture on the Wesleys. The RC Bishop of Clifton has to be restrained by Mgr Folan from begging him to come over through the Ordinariate. Mgr Folan respects him too much even to make that attempt. Dr Jettou the imam regards him with reverence and affection – as does the Nawab of Hubli. The Salmons dote on him. His parishioners love him and fear him. Sir Thomas Douty started going to church again because Noel is his Rector. And Canon Potecary and he disagree on everything … and most especially on her belief that, although he's wrong about everything, he is the man the Church needs most.
  • Rousing Speech: Keeps giving these from the pulpit without meaning to or thinking he has done.
    "For all that, and despite a surprising one-off prior, the famous and comforting and thus beloved 'Northern Soul Sermon', and despite his defiant rallying-call of the month prior to that, parishioners in the Woolfonts no more expected a devastating sermon of Dear Fr Paddick than they expected HM Government to surrender Gib and the Falklands at once, or England to win a World Cup."
  • Sexy Priest: Very. When Edmond first met him, Noel being incognito and in mufti, Edmond flirted blatantly and Teddy drooled a little; Hetty sighs over him; and...
    Sher, 'fessing up to Dr. Campion the organist: "… when he's out for his run…. I don't like early mornings, but that'd be enough to get me out of bed and to a window to creep him, if I didn't feel filthy over it."
  • Shaming the Mob: When he reproves sin from the pulpit, sin cowers, whimpering.
  • Tenor Boy: Heldentenor boy. His voice got him into the choir, the Church, and a Church college, which got him into Oxford and the priesthood; and as Rector, he tends to choral services. (The Duke, with his weakness for the Incredibly Lame Pun, likes to note that Noel "sings for his living.")note 
    • Which, coupled with his Wolvo and Black Country working-class antecedents, led to the formation of the In-Universe charity-appeal and village-concert group, singing Northern Soul, with a ducal Basso Profundo thrown in: "The Fonts," consisting of Noel, Sher, The Breener, Teddy, Edmond, and His Grace as basso. There's a lot of swooning In-Universe when Noel does a Jackie Wilson cover at village concerts (especially on Sher's part. And Hetty's).
  • Throwing Out the Script: The really powerful sermons and homilies are largely extemporaneous, from a mere outline.
  • Title Drop: Sorry, Title Drop. One of the chapters in Evensong, being like all the rest a Literary Allusion Title from the Scriptures or the Book of Common Prayer, includes the phrase "All Evil and Mischief": the title of one of Noel's publications.
  • Turbulent Priest: Sin is to be reproved. Wrong is to be condemned. And he will do so, up to and including invoking canon law to bar persistent offenders (including his friends and allies if they are in the wrong, Duke or dustman) from communion, quite publicly, while the Bishop rules on the gravity of their offenses.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Father P honestly doesn't think much of his skills as a preacher (and being High Church, considers preaching to be, er, not the most important of his important duties). Every other character In-Universe explicitly disagrees with his self-assessment. Especially Edmond, whose skin he inadvertently gets under with every sermon.
  • Verbal Business Card: Tends not to hand it out himself, but will remind actual parishioners and passing Anglicans by what authority he speaks; and has had it handed out for him on occasion.
    The Duke to the defeated aggressors after a Bar Brawl: "I am the duke of Taunton. That is Mr Gates, the proprietor of this establishment. There is Miss Targett, whom you abused, and this is the Hon. Miss Evans, whom you assaulted. Lachlan is the Police and Crime Commissioner; Tommy is the Chief Constable. Mr Mirza is the man who could easily – and justly – have killed you. And your friend has had the honour of being put on the ground by the incoming Rector of this parish."
  • The Vicar: As will be obvious by now, a subversion and heroic deconstruction of every known stereotype of C of E clergy. (Including, in the Duke's In-Universe view, by being an orthodox Anglican rather than a trendy.)
  • Working-Class Hero: Subverted. He's not ashamed at all of his class origins; but he knows the value of education, and an Oxford education at that (and conquered his dyslexia to get one), and as for Book Dumb … forget it.

    Sher Ali Mirza CBE MA (Ebor) MMus (Leeds) ARCO Dip CHD, Deputy Headmaster 

Sher Ali Mirza CBE, English and Music Master, and, by the end of Evensong, Deputy Headmaster, at the Beechbourne Free School:

Sher Ali Mirza CBE MA (Ebor) MMus (Leeds) ARCO Dip CHD; b Adel, Leeds, West Yorks. Deputy Chairman, Board of Governors, the Agincourt Housing Association Trust. Deputy Headmaster, English master & co-Master (Music), the Beechbourne Free School. Heir apparent to the heir designate to the Nawab of Hubli (HH Abdul Ali Aftab Mirza Khan), his uncle & cousin. Composer & keyboardist; composer-in-residence, the Beechbourne Free School; conductor, the Woolfont Consort. Bach Prize, the Royal Academy of Music. The Queen's Medal for Music. Composer, Bach in Euanthia: Twelve Canons and Fugues upon the Seikilos Epitaph. Unmarried. Bramble Cottage, Woolfont Parva, Wilts.
The Directory

Yorkshire-born. Looks like a male model. Highly cultivated but not in the least snobbish (his uncle would demur: his uncle the Nawab, mind you). Musicologist by preference, English Master by primary trade. Is the only practicing Muslim in the UK to be, academically, an expert on the music of the Church of England. Nephew, eventual heir, and distant cousin to HH the Nawab of Hubli, who married his father's sister. Utterly and chastely in love with the Rector. Generally beloved of all; not to be trifled with by those who aren't fans. (Including Edmond, when Edmond's activism outstrips his sense.) Recovering alcoholic; fiercely protective of his family and those he loves (and Dangerous When Roused).

"But what I want … what I want I can't have."

    Brian Francis Michael Maguire CBE ("The Breener"), late England cricketer, now TMS summariser 

Brian Francis Michael Maguire CBE ("The Breener"):

Brian Francis Michael Maguire CBE: MCC Member; was born in Kilgarvan, County Kerry, to a farming family. … an assisted place at Downside. ...Leaving Downside, The Breener was snapped up as one of the first intake at the newly-established ECB National Academy (now the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough University). He was thereafter signed for Derbyshire, until moving to Somerset CCC three years after. It was whilst he was at Somerset that he was first capped for England Lions, and, in short order thereafter, for the England Test side, making his first Test appearance in 2003, against Zimbabwe at Lord's. His international career (Test, T20I, and ODI) was shaping well when his old knee trouble, the relic of past scrums for the Downside XV, recurred. Plagued by injury, he was not able to reach quite the heights which were confidently predicted for him and clearly within his grasp, although he was twice Cricketer of the Year in his sadly abbreviated career. Upon his retirement, he became and has remained a popular lecturer and a beloved addition to TMS. He married the Hon. Gwen, née Evans, daughter of the racing life-peer The Baron Evans of Pont-y-clun and Aintree.... Teams: England; MCC; England Lions; Somerset; Derbyshire
The Almanack

A laughing, boisterous broth of a boy from a farm family in Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry (to which they fled from Ulster in Cromwell's time); sent to Downside on a fully assisted place to be molded into a Test cricketer. Which he was, until old knee injuries put paid to that, at which point the Duke lured him to the Woolfonts to coach the all-conquering local XI. As of the end of Evensong, is married to the Hon. Gwen and father to twins. In retirement, a wildly popular lecturer and TMS fixture, playing the Stage Oirishman with glee. Surreptitiously intelligent and well-read. When he stops laughing and smiling … run.

"Feck! Catch yerself on! Chrisht!"

  • Badass Baritone: And you can count on his singing.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's great fun. Until you piss him off.
  • Big Eater: And burns it all off. His wife is too discreet to say just how.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Sure and what for would he not be?
    "'In Ireland, at least, it's a sin t' keep a lad from a brawl; come on,' whooped he, as he charged outside and into the fray."
  • The Charmer: And lampshades it and plays with it, and specifically calls it his "Plastic Paddy" routine.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Irish Farm Boy sent to Downside to become a Test cricketer; the Roman Catholic Church's favorite sports figure, and married to an Anglican (Church in Wales) wife; an Irish national hero in an England cap, and an English hero who's Irish as can be; an Irishman in England and nowadays an Englishman in Ireland when he visits.... Yep. He qualifies.
  • The Clan: Irish, Catholic, rural family ring any bells? And one, moreover, which has been trading properties, children, and wives between the County Kerry and County Fermanagh branches (and various Cassidys and Gallaghers): which connection to Stroke Country, where The Breener's da, Breandán, was born, is how The Breener qualified as an England cricketer.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Averted. The Breener has been munificent to his family, but they certainly haven't sought it.
  • The Confidant: To the other Lads, when they can't possibly imagine talking to the Duke about it and dare not talk to Father Paddick about it.
  • The Dutiful Son: His parents' sacrifices were amply repaid when he made it big.
  • Famous Ancestor: Not to the extent of the Duke and all those peers, or the Mirza Khans, but Conchobhar Mag Uidhir, second baron Maguire of Enniskillen, and his successor Rory, do count. Then again, that sort of thing is Truth in Television for the merest beggar in Ireland, and The Breener thinks nothing of it.
    • As the Duke pointed out to Noel's parents Steve and Mary Paddick (descended from Edward III, and from the families of Fairfax, Villiers, Pelham, Hyde, Mander, Cantilupe, Daubeny, Scudamore, and Fenton), everyone in the UK and Ireland who has any local ancestry at all, including HM the Queen, is related to one another, to royalty, and to stable lads and peasants. Which is also Truth in Television, and one reason Noel and The Breener both pay it all no mind.
  • Farm Boy: Test Cricket was the quest, and farewell the paternal acres.
  • Funetik Aksent: Justified and lampshaded: it keeps the lecture circuit fees coming in and his TMS gig going. But he can drop it when he likes: as once when he gave Edmond both barrels in a deliberately offensively lofty public-school tone and diction.
  • Genius Bruiser: Possibly the wisest of The Lads in some ways, and lampshaded with his narration motif, that a man who once kept wicket for England misses nothing.
  • Good Parents: Had them, and is following their example.
  • Happily Married: To the Hon. Gwen.
  • Handicapped Badass: Subverted. His knees are shot, yes, but they don't slow him down when there's a brawl to get stuck into; and they're not that badly shot.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes / Icy Blue Eyes: If you see the latter in place of the former, you've made a huge mistake. See You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry, below, and quote therein.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Always happy to mix it up when called to do. Including in a Bar Brawl in Teddy's three-star restaurant when someone sexually harassed Gwen. With a heavy, silver candlestick.
    "'Put the candlestick down, Breener,' hissed Edmond, stealthily returning a carving knife to a nearby trolley. 'This isn't an Irish pub brawl with shillelaghs being brandished.'"
  • Multicolored Hair: Briefly had blond tips in his playing days, after the manner of certain other cricketers. It's an In-Universe Old Shame to him now.
    "The Breener muttered, with a guilty smile, something about emulating Warne and KP, for luck, in his youthful hairstyle choices...."
  • Multigenerational Household: Has found himself saddled with one:
    "The Breener was an Irish farm-boy educated at Downside on full bursary expressly to play for England, and had certainly showered Danae's gold upon his family so soon as he had it to shower; but he might have married an Australian girl and settled in Alice Springs in obscure and honest poverty, and Aunt Assumpta should have come over to Help With The Twins even had she had to sell her cottage to afford the journey."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: No one has called The Breener "Brian" for decades.
  • Rags to Riches: Subverted: it wasn't quite rags, and he did end up at Downside (owing to an Uncle Pennybags or two finding him an assisted place).
    "… 'The Breener', as he was known from the cradle, had in the local parish priest of St Patrick's Church a mentor who was not content only to encourage the irrepressible young man in Gaelic games [snip] but who was ecumenical in matters of sport; and fortunately again, the Church of Ireland incumbent in Kenmare was prevailed upon by his Roman Catholic colleague to look over the youngster with a sportsman's eye. This he did, accompanied on the day, as it happened, by the father of the present Earl of Maynooth, an MCC member of long standing, and that Earl's uncle, the retired (C of I) Bishop of Omagh, both of whom were stopping with the Revd Dr Orpen-Athy-Fitzgarrett on an angling holiday. A lengthy consultation between the three visitors and Fr Healey, who swiftly appealed to Bishop Herlihy in support, resulted in representations which resulted in the finding for the young Breener of an assisted place at Downside, in Somerset, the XI of which did not know what had hit it."
    • Note that the Church of Ireland clergyman, the Earl of Maynooth, and the Anglican Bishop of Omagh were all relatives of the Duke's.
  • Raised Catholic: And stayed Catholic. Even his religiously-mixed marriage was cleared through channels first. Goes in healthy fear of wee Mgr Folan – for the reason that the monsignor is, as The Breener says, "Socrates in a Roman collar." Otherwise, he's ecumenical about most things.
    To James, about the Rector, before the Duke gave the parishes – and Mgr Folan – Rovers: "Jaysus, hasn't he an Irish Cat'lic for an unpaid driver?"
  • Standard '50s Father: Dotingly so, on the twins. Given that he's a Boisterous Bruiser given to Let's Get Dangerous! moments, it would be wise not to give him cause to go all Action Dad / Papa Wolf. And not only as regards his biological children.
  • Team Dad: To the rest of The Lads when the Rector isn't filling the role, and particularly when any of The Lads are feuding with another (Sher … Edmond...). They are ''his'' lads, sure and they are, and do not you be forgetting it.
  • Uncle Pennybags / Wealthy Philanthropist: He's been paying his good fortune forward since it came to him, to family, friends, and good causes … preferably in ways with some fun involved.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: He's a warm, smiling man. Until he's not: when the eyes grow cold, the lips go dangerously thin, and one realizes that chin and that jaw are stubborn and dangerous. At that point, you're screwed.
    "The Breener's blue eyes were commonly warm and dangerously charming. Commonly. At certain moments of crisis, however, they looked like Bantry Bay beneath a stormy sky – and wise mariners scuttled to shelter when they did."
    The Hon. Gwen (Mrs. Brian) Maguire, Owner and Trainer, the Woolbury Stud 

The Hon. Gwen (Evans before marriage, Maguire since), owner of the Woolbury Stud:

Welsh and Anglo-Welsh bloodstock breeder, and daughter of a life peer given a life peerage for Services to the Turf (The Baron Evans of Pont-y-clun and Aintree). Deceptively mild and fluffy; is in fact a bloody cobra. Holds everyone who knows her in the palm of her dainty hand, and you'd best hope she doesn't have cause to clench that hand. Now married to The Breener, and recently the mother of twins, making, in all, three children for her to boss. Very candid friend to Lady Crispin; thick as thieves with, naturally, Lady Agatha. Everyone in the Woolfonts, without distinction of age, sex, marital status, or orientation, and including the Duke, is half in love with her … which she ruthlessly Uses For Good when necessary.

"... you little Saes wanker."note 

  • Action Girl: That Bar Brawl? So unnecessary: she was perfectly capable of handling it herself, and will tell you so.
    "It was at that point that Gwen slapped him. Which was followed immediately by her being seized by all three, two of whom immediately went down, clutching their bollocks: no one in the district had ever doubted Gwen's force, or accuracy of aim."
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Her father was made a life peer for services to the Turf; she owns and runs a National Hunt and Flat stud.
  • Apron Matron: Of the upper class sort – not least to The Breener.
  • The Beard: Briefly and willingly acted as one for Sher before he realized his family didn't care that he was (a) bisexual and (b) hopelessly in love with Noel.
  • Brutal Honesty: She doesn't mince words.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Well, the elder lady, when she had a few unvarnished words with Lady Crispin over Lady Crispin's quarrel with Rupert after Crispin died.
  • Converting for Love: Averted. She's still Anglican, The Breener's still RC.
    • The (wholly imaginary) prospect that she might do this, when she was The Beard for Sher, was seized on as an excuse or justification for a racially-motivated attack on Sher. Seized on by the attackers, that is.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Not the woman you're well-advised to underestimate.
  • Death Glare: One which works even on The Breener.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: As everyone is a little bit in love with her (and not just the men), she's not above using this to effect goals for the greater good and making peace in the community.
  • Mama Bear: To more than her own children. Even before they were born. The full version of her page quote?
    To Edmond, while she's late in term: "'You want a world in which the coming generation doesn't know persecution and prejudice? So do I, sunshine. Beginning with Roman Catholics, and with Irishmen, and, for that matter, with my fellow Welshmen and Welshwomen, you little Saes wanker.
    "'And don't you ever again,' said she, struggling to her feet, 'bring my children into your crusade as an excuse for your behaviour, look you. I'm having enough morning sickness as is: don't you make me sick up further by your actions."
  • More Deadly Than the Male / Silk Hiding Steel: What you face when you ill-advisedly underestimate her.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: None. No sympathy. None at all … Edmond; Sher; Lady Crispin. And Stop Whinging.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: There are people who think all she reads is the studbook and the Racing Post, and all she knows anything about is how to handle men and horses. Such people get their arses handed to them.
  • Precision F-Strike: Calling Edmond a "little Saes wanker." "Wanker" may not be the F-strike so much as "Saes:" which is the Welsh for "Englishman," and is often not, as here it is not, a term of endearment.
  • Quit Your Whining: Sher, Edmond, and Lady Crispin have all gotten this sweetly-expressed advice. For "advice," read, "command."
  • The Reliable One: Is, and is so regarded In-Universe. Although Lady Crispin, of course, rethought that when Gwen disagreed with her.
  • Verbal Judo: Ranking mistress of it. She shall de-escalate things. By whatever arguments are necessary.

    Cllr Teddy Gates OBE JP, Master of Wine, County councillor, chef-proprietor of The Woolford House Hotel 

Edward Henry Lewis Gates OBE JP, Master of Wine, County councillor, chef-proprietor of The Woolford House Hotel ("Teddy"):

Teddy (Edward Henry Lewis) Gates OBE JP: born Delamere, Cheshire; BA (Institut Paul Bocuse / IAE Lyon (Université Jean Moulin Lyon III)) MSc (Institut Paul Bocuse / EMLYON). MW (Institute of Masters of Wine). Proprietor-chef, The Woolford House Hotel, Woolfont Abbas, Wilts. (***) Commandeur, l'Order du Mérite Agricole (Fr). Cllr, Wiltshire (Unitary Authority) Council (Liberal Democrat). Member, the Board of Governors, the Agincourt Housing Association Trust. Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in the Liberal Democrat interest, Beechbourne constituency. Contributing editor, The Woolford House and Woolfonts Cookbook (forthcoming). Residence: Chalkhills, Woolfont Crucis. Civil partner: Edmond Huskisson, with whom in process of adopting children.
The Guide

Charming, wild-maned, sexy chef. Civil partner of by The Day Thou Gavest, husband of, and planning to adopt sprogs with Edmond Huskisson. Born in rural Cheshire; won a BBC reality-show culinary seriesnote  and went off to France to train; by preference a pâtissier. As The Celebrated Hipsta Chef, a darling of press and broadcast. His first job back in England was at one of the Duke's clubs; later, the Duke brought him to the Woolfonts to resurrect the local gastropub and hotel. Spacey, sweet (outside the kitchen: in the kitchen ... he once made Gordon Ramsay cry, in fear, on live TV), eternally boyish, and of course a Lib Dem. Too naive for politics, really....

"Mango is an underrated fruit, yah?"

  • Agent Peacock: He has thrown footballers out of his restaurant – and had them banned in every licensed establishment in three counties. For that matter, he's thrown out EU Commissioners and MEPs. And a North American popstar who said something homophobic:
    "Amazing, really, that Teddy'd been dissuaded from jointing him like a poulet de Bresse; he'd certainly tossed him out on his ear, to the point he ought by rights to have bounced, and refunded his custom by the simple expedient of throwing the notes at him and watching grimly as his bloody entourage had scrambled to pluck them from the breeze."
  • Badass Baritone: Surprisingly, when he sings at village concerts and as part of "The Fonts" (also at village concerts). With a bit of Guttural Growler tossed in. What he sings are sexy songs, mostly Northern Soul – and largely Junior Walker tracks. To Edmond. And sometimes with Edmond.
  • Bi the Way: Averted and lampshaded for and by Teddy. The term you are looking for is ''pan''.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: He and Edmond seem to thrive on these. Really, they must do it for the thrills and the make-up sex (to nigh-DestructoNookie levels), it's the only possible explanation (a conclusion generally held In-Universe).
  • The Charmer: And he knows it. Edmond doesn't mind. At all.
    • In fact, the possessive little bugger gets off on knowing he's the one Teddy will be going home with.
  • Ethical Slut: When younger. As a schoolboy with a wide range of options, he really got around.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Well, yeah. And pre-Edmond, had quite as good a chance as anyone.
  • Fanboy (In-Universe): Was giddy and dazed with happiness when the Duke brought certain hirsute, motorcycle-riding telly chefs down for the Village Fête and they asked him to join them in a cookery demonstration.
    • As he got his start by winning a BBC cookery series, he's something of an Ascended Fanboy in this regard.
  • Farm Boy: Middle-class version. Left rural Cheshire behind to become a Supreme Chef. While growing up in the countryside, though, really was a Farm Boy.
    As regards "the venerable Lady Delamere": "Teddy had hidden in shocked recognition when he'd spotted her in a corridor, he having a guilty conscience from decades before involving a bit of juvenile mischief (Lady D was well-known as a breeder of Derbyshire Redcaps, and Teddy had scrumped a few eggs in his Cheshire youth in Delamere)...."
  • Father to His Men: He's tough in the kitchen, but his brigade and all the hotel staff would charge hell with a pail of petrol for him..
  • Hipster: Bless. He thinks he is, so very earnestly. What he is, is a painfully middle class Bourgeois Bohemian.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: He and Edmond, since they first got together ... and with no plans to stop. Honestly, Teddy's indispensable chief of staff Emily Lane ought to be getting combat pay.
  • In-Universe Nickname: "The Celebrated Hipsta Chef."
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Age hath not withered nor custom staled this character in him. He's really far too pretty, and the curly hair is a mane. He gets compared (In-Universe, by others) to a lanky and laughing faun rather often, at that.
  • Mr. Fanservice: There are plenty of characters In-Universe who find his twinkish (even now), Pretty Boy look delicious.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: He wouldn't know who you were addressing if you called him "Edward." Neither would anyone else.
  • Real Men Cook: Chef-ing ain't easy; it's pointed out that training in a French kitchen is a pretty good equivalent to SAS selection for rigorousness.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As the boss, subverted with elements of Clueless Boss. Deliberately clueless. Foodie politics requires he be the chef-proprietor-manager of The Woolfont. What he wants to be is the pâtissier. His executive chef / sous-chef Meg Leaver and his theoretically ''sub-''manageress Emily Lane really run the place for him, as he prefers.
  • Recovered Addict: Had a coke problem at one point back in London. The Duke … intervened.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Subverted as to Teddy and Edmond as a couple. Teddy's a chef. Edmond's a former Premier Leaguer … and Edmond's much more Camp Gay when he chooses to let his hair down and drop his pearls, while Teddy … is Sergeant Rock.
  • Sergeant Rock: An utter sweetheart … outside the kitchen. Inside, well.... Remember: he once (In-Universe) reduced Gordon Ramsay to tears.
  • Supreme Chef: Naturally talented and bloody well-trained. He actually lives up to his own hype.
    Offering lunch on the house to the then-new Rector, Fr. Paddick: "'C'mon, then, yah? Rock oysters, salmon salad, saddle of rabbit with truffles and pea puree, creamed fennel, chard, and a raspberry and lemongrass pavlova –'
    "'Teddy, really.'
    "'All right.' Teddy was clearly making an effort not to pout – and failing, charmingly. It made him look all of fifteen. 'What a life for a craftsman. Philistine. Stilton and broccoli soup and bacon chops in cider?'
    "'Hot as today has been?'
    "Teddy sighed. 'Cucumber soup and my take on Coronation chicken?'
    "'Much more like it. I know you're a genius, but I'm a simple country parson, Teddy.'
    "'Too rich for your blood, am I? 'S all right, Father Pads, we love you anyway.'
    "Fr Paddick beamed."
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    Edmond Austin Huskisson BA (Hons) (OU) (Social Psychology) OBE JP, ex-Premier Leaguer, Activist; Chalkhills, Woolfont Crucis 

Edmond Austin Huskisson BA (Hons) (OU) (Social Psychology) OBE JP:

Edmond Austin Huskisson OBE JP was born in Illingworth.... Signed as a schoolboy to Halifax Town AFC, he was soon picked up by Leeds United for development.... 'Huzza' rapidly established himself as 'the thinking man's striker' … Hull FC, and then, on the cusp of certain stardom, to Manchester City. Man City, the first Premier League club to be designated 'gay-friendly' by Stonewall UK, soon found occasion to back its new addition, when Huzza was outed on the morning of the city derby. He was sent on in the second half. Sadly, in a scandal which had lasting consequences, 'the thinking man's striker' was carried off shortly thereafter, having been laid out by a blatant foul and, whilst down, showered not only with abuse but with objects from the Man Utd terraces … rendered legally blind in one eye … never again able to play football professionally. He moved to rural Wiltshire immediately thereafter, taking a small country house, 'Chalkhills', in the Woolfonts. After a period of internal struggle, during which he drank heavily, he turned his life around and in a new direction, with the help of AA, neighbours such as the Duke of Taunton, and the new interest in his life, the celebrity chef Teddy Gates, proprietor of the award-winning The Woolford House Hotel nearby. Huzza could no longer, perhaps, be 'the thinking man's striker', but he was now free to be a thinking man: he earnt his BA (Hons) through the Open University and threw himself into charitable and advocacy endeavours, which continue to this day with the assistance and support of Teddy Gates, now his civil partner. He now serves on numerous boards and committees dedicated to overcoming discrimination in sport; is a Governor of the Beechbourne Free School, at which he acts as a part-time adjunct games master; and is involved in numerous local charities and community projects, including as a Member of the Board of Governors, the Agincourt Housing Association Trust. He was created MBE for services to sport and the community, and raised OBE in the Birthday Honours of the year just past for further such services.
– Hall of Fame entry

The other refugee from Yorkshire. Former Premier League striker (Man City) fouled in the city derby and half-blinded on the pitch by things thrown from the terraces, having been outed by the tabloids that morning. Has become, not surprisingly, a somewhat fanatical activist in his retirement. Civil partner and, by The Day Thou Gavest, husband, and planning to adopt with, of Teddy Gates. Thinks "tact" is the past tense of "tack." Has a stack of chips on both shoulders, including class, sexuality, and Yorkshire chauvinism. Was best friends with Sher until Noel arrived; his nose is still out of joint over that. Tries very hard to be Straight Gay and Yorkshire-tough; tends to become waspish and bitchy instead. Everyone loves him anyway, even when they want to strangle him.

"Have you quite finished?"

  • All Gays Love Theater: He does, and spent much of his early life trying to be a footballing 'ard man to hide that and good deal else. Nowadays … he and Teddy named their dogs for Diana Dors and Vera Lynn, and West End musicals captivate him.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: He and Teddy to each other. Which makes village concerts … interesting.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Spent most of his life that way. It is felt In-Universe that this still cripples him in many ways, as having created a disconnect between head and heart.
  • Bash Brothers: With The Breener. Teddy's a Non-Action Guy, a Lover, Not a Fighter, until he reaches a Rage Breaking Point. Sher can hold his own, but he's a Fragile Speedster type and a very reluctant warrior; Noel is, after all, the Rector, and a Martial Pacifist. And the Duke rarely has to fight (his opponents tending to pee themselves when they see him), and if he does, he's already so planned things that he needn't. But The Breener enjoys getting dangerous and, like Edmond, is an old athlete; and Edmond has a lot of rage stored, and nowadays doesn't have to worry about red cards and being sent off.
  • Camp Gay: When he feels like it.
  • Career-Ending Injury: On the pitch. (A backstory he shares to an extent with The Breener.)
  • Crying Wolf: Has been considered In-Universe to have done this so often, by attributing every reverse he suffers to one or another form of prejudice, that he gets frequent Not Now, Kiddo brushings-off by other characters when he's right.
  • Disabled Badass: The sight in one eye is compromised. He has not forgiven this. He refuses to let it slow him down.
  • Drama Queen: He's trying to get better about this, but … to be fair, he did suffer a Career-Ending Injury at the hands of bigots, immediately upon being Forced Out of the Closet. And an armored closet at that. All of which had and has done his mental health no favors. It still affects him in complex ways.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: He's indiscriminately attractive. When silent.
  • Foil: To the Duke, who is well aware that they are far too much alike in their faults, and lampshades it. As he does the similar fact and foildom between Edmond and Sher.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: In the most painful way possible. Outed in the morning by the tabloids, sent on in the afternoon by a defiant Man City (in the city derby, at the ManUtd ground), blatantly fouled, and subjected to a Career-Ending Injury while down, from things thrown from the terraces. He holds a grudge. And has become a Principles Zealot in response.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Comes perilously close to being one; averted because he can learn, and his friends know his heart's in the right place.
    "'I hold no position on whether the secular state ought or ought not to bring back National Service; I merely point out that, when we had it, there was a greater understanding in the mass of men of strategy, of tactics, and of the operational art of making the latter serve the former.' [snip] 'Tactically, your approach, just now, consists of shooting your own, really.'"
  • Height Angst: He's taller than the Duke, but who isn't? What digs at him is that he's shorter than the other Lads (and especially Teddy). He refuses to accept this.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Unwisely accused Sher and Noel of this, and of being CategoryTraitors because of it, by reason of their being a Chastity Couple who wouldn't march in his parades. He knows better now, and they have since reconciled .. or started to, in Sher's case.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Twice over. He was struck down in his Glory Days on the pitch … a career he chose so as to hide his real (and very, very gay) interest in musical theater, in which he would have excelled.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: There's a lot of HornyViking in his lineage.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Subverted. He's utterly faithful to Teddy … but, to his own distress, has an incurably roving eye. (Literally: he just can't not look.) And feels guilty about it, because he knows he really would enjoy it at the time and regret it later if he ever strayed. Justified in that his days in the closet really did a number on him. (He and Teddy got together very soon after he was (a) out and (b) sober. His own explanation is, therefore, that he never sowed any wild oats.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: He's a Yorkshire Tyke, and loudly working-class in origin. Pleasantries are fripperies for a plain lad from Oop North, sithee, you soft, toffee-nosed Southerner. Happen it offends someone, that's their lookout.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: He and Teddy, even now.
  • Intercourse with You / Serenade Your Lover: The inevitable as between him and Teddy at village concerts.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's exasperating, but nummy to many In-Universe. (It's the legendary arse, which even straight guys notice.)
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: On the receiving end of this from quite a few of his friends.
  • Oop North: Flat-'at and whippet-on-lead. Sommat of a Professional Yorkshireman.
  • Principles Zealot: He will not rest – or compromise – so long as anyone else may ever suffer from homophobia. Unfortunately, he tends to offend possible allies rather too often, though he's trying to do better.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: His and Teddy's all too regular loud quarrels and louder reconciliations.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Has a bone to pick with the Almighty, if there is an Almighty. (His attitude is, Who creates gays and Lesbians and then tells them not to be?) He's agnostic on the question of God, but is quite clear that if God exists, he's a prick.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" / My Nayme Is: He has a Belgian great-gran who came over in 1914 a step ahead of the Germans, and stayed. Wherefore "Edmond."
  • Straight Gay: When he chooses. Although it seems uncomfortably like his days in the closet to him.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: No matter how he quarrels with the Duke and The Lads, they all close ranks when there's an outside threat.
  • Tenor Boy: Counter-tenor.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sher, before Noel arrived (which, with Sher falling in love with Noel, put Edmond's nose out of joint); and since their reconciliation.

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