This just in from a reader:
I am recovering from a serious case of metaphorical post coital triste after reluctantly turning over the last
page of your wonderful Once a Priest.It was one of those reads which you wish would never end.
A few comments by way of appreciation which cannot do justice to the integrity of the book as a whole and its
'omniscient'and energetic narrator.
*I was struck by the explosive first page or two which must be a model for how to begin a work.You have parachuted
into the sixties Liverpool in the most intense and realistic fashion which no social historian could hope to accomplish;
capturing the mantras as you propel the actors onto the stage.This is finely honed economic prose rattling its
cage to become poetry.
*Having been a prisoner of the Brent asylum of the terminally mad at the same time as you were in Bolton,I was
particularly struck by your descriptions of the admin apparats in the grip of a plague of wrongheadedness.I was
touched by your encounters in the classroom;the pupils;always powerless victims of the top down poison
administered by our heavily politicised educational state educational apparatus.Your survival stratagems would
make an excellent survival guide for any youngster brave enough to enter the educational fray.
*Sauced with Chaucerian wit throughout
*marvellous insight into the inner workings of the C of E, which despite Trollope, has always for me, been veiled in
*Counterpoint.You achieve some well judged a**e kicking in your relentless pursuit of humbug.Yet there are sensitive
episodes of real poignancy.The death of Louie which you were privileged to attend.."I watched her dying......It was like
watching someone being born.She made a good job of it,such fun of it.That was one of her expressions"The nurse."That
woman"she said."That woman-she was an angel!"
*Remarkable capturing of local language idiosyncrasies...."It weren't bad......it were alreet..."the leaden vice of Leeds.I
think it was Lord Salisbury said "Always believe in stereotypes"And the memorable "affat"...And after 'Romeo and Juliet'
"Will we affat write about it tomorrow.....?.....not forgetting "allus"The Dickensian Broadstairs "Have a look at....."the
girl guides etc
*Such a variety of characters as if you were in receipt of an EU rights injunction to include them all!The maverick James....
I am looking forward to hearing more about him and the Uriah Heap senior curate, destroying the bogs with his bike.Characters galore, like a Dutch painting ,and like Shakespeare,minor characters all have their importance.
And the land and townscapes so economically and memorably delineated...
*Then the style;varied but always moving musically as the book progresses;fusing naturally into poetry at the most
*This book is no trivial self indulgence.It takes on the big subjects.Most of all God,worship,prayer,salvation.And the forces
that militate against the latter.Imposters in the Church.The real danger of the abuse of power in the charismatic movement
The age old evils of those who seek preferment by aligning themselves with secular government and the zeitgeist, neglecting their flocks.
*The unity of this marvelous book;the narrator;cheerfully, courageously,overcoming difficulties,armed with that life saver, a sense of irony.Once a priest and by the grace of God,always a priest!
Much much more to say
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