Sometimes my articles come from odd roots, and that I’m a bit of a chancer, so a discussion about the books of a military historian led me to chance my arm and mention I’d like to interview Rev Richard Coles, and amazingly he said yes. So should I ask about his history in music with No 1 single stars The Communards, his radio work, his TV appearances, his books, or his work as the Vicar of his parish. Well maybe some of that, but I like to think I ask the less obvious questions, and so we have the Q&A below. A big thank you for taking part goes to the man himself, who is one of the loveliest people imaginable (Not because he has appointed me Chancellor Of The Duchy Of Cardamom if he ever seizes power).
Are you ready for the questions, are you wanting to get on with it, saying Don’t Leave Me This Way (Sorry couldn’t resist)?
Do you keep an eye on Jimmy Somerville’s follower count ?
I have a special algorithm which flashes a red warning on my Twitter feed if anyone I have ever worked with goes over 50,000.
How do you feel about religious iconography used solely about fashion?
Important to be selective; rattling with rosaries is one thing but try getting in a cab pierced with arrows like St Sebastian.
Monochrome is a huge trend, how does it feel to be surfing a fashion wave?
Is that why so many newsreaders look like Puritan wives now? I like to think I have played my part.
You have a background in music and now cake judging, do you think the mix of 80’s pop icon and village fete jam selector make you perfect to replace Louis on X-Factor ?
I think you have answered your own question there.
What’s the difference between a parson and a vicar ?
Well, a Vicar is a parson, and a parson is a Vicar – or a Rector. It comes from the word Person, and simply means whoever has the cure of souls in a parish. Actually it is the bishop, technically speaking, who has the cure of souls, but as Vicars and Rectors we are assistant curates, and share in it, although actually as Vicars and Rectors we also sometimes have assistant curates, who are not parsons. Is that clear?
I saw you on TV recently talking about how you were taught to deal with the death of parishioners, what lesson could you give us all.
It will all be fine in the end, but it may take a while.
Can you give us a thought for today, just don’t tell a certain radio show.
Always wear a t-shirt under a clerical shirt. White marks in the wrong places are never on trend.
What are the four adorable dogs you have called, and is there a better companion than a dog?
Daisy Mumu, Willy Pongo, Lil’Aud and H. No.
Who was unexpectedly lovely in the music industry?
Lots, actually, but I think Def Leppard were the sweetest band we met on tour.
You have some fabulous books on the saints, who is the one/story you love the most.
So many, but I’m especially fond of Gemma Galgani, the Daughter of Passion, one of the very few levitators of the 20th C. She was born in 1878 to a successful pharmacist who soon after moved the family to the lovely city of Lucca in order that they might have a better education.
Her mother almost immediately fell ill with tuberculosis and then four of her siblings died. She contracted meningitis but was miraculously healed by the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of Venerable Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, patron saint of the Gun Lobby. She used regularly to write notes to her Confessor and instead of using the postal service left them in a little shrine dedicated to the Christ Child, where they would be miraculously collected and delivered by Gabriel. Around this time she began to fall into ecstasies and received what looked like the beginnings of stigmata when the Virgin Mary threw her cloak over her, eventually helping her into bed when wounds appeared in her hands and feet. She became intensely devoted to the passion of Our Lord, hence Daughter of Passion.
One day in the dining room, where a large crucifix was hung on the wall, she suddenly floated up to it and started kissing the spear wound in Christ’s side. It is worth noting that her younger sister, Angelina, thought she was just showing off and did cruel impressions of her having a ‘turn’. Gemma herself caught TB and, after enduring agonies on Good Friday 1903, died.
In 2003, the centenary of her death, she appeared to a Palestinian motorist attempting to cross a heavily policed border in Israel, where every car was being stopped. She jumped into his car and they were waved through by the guards. When they got to the other side she said ‘I am Gemma Galgani’ and disappeared. She is the patron saint of pharmacists.
Would Stephen Fry make a tremendous uncle ?
If there were a legal instrument to effect this I would definitely use it.
I love vintage and 2nd hand clothes, on a scale of 1-10 how do you rate your parish jumble sales for finds ?
A good 10, even if those tie-dye flares have appeared every year since 1972.
*pic from a guardian article