Letter to Nicky Gumbel, developer of the Alpha Course


 No reply ever received

Dear Nicky and Pippa,

It was so lovely to see you both yesterday and to be given such a warm reception that I felt I had to put pen to paper. ( …. in fact one of my few remaining sheets of rather special writing paper, sourced in Eilat 21 years ago ! ).

What you two, + all the other Nickys have achieved is wonderful and wondrous. I sat upstairs in the gallery next to a Canadian catholic and her daughter – her son was just starting at Christ Church – who said there was nothing like Holy Trinity Brompton in her denomination. Your congregation was impressively diverse …. there was me expecting just Barbours and red cords! 

Chacun a son gout of course and that musak isn’t my cup of tea along with the length of the service ( ! ), so I shall not be deserting my default Southwark Cathedral. Being an old-fashioned traditionalist I like the message to come rooted in the Christian calendar albeit with an up-to-date theme – for instance yesterday was the Patronal Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary who little Leanne Roberts, the Treasurer at Southwark described as an early teenage pregnancy statistic who married a much older bloke ! Who am I to dare to suggest to someone who has brought 20 million people ( wow ! ) to Christ that perhaps perhaps a little mention of the Magnificat wouldn’t have gone amiss yesterday?

Some 18 weeks ago I dropped in at St. Mark’s, Battersea Rise ( where incidentally in early 1980 I experienced a ‘vision’ when it was a derelict wreck ) – there was a rather spurious ‘healing service’ being conducted by an overweight Canadian who kept going on about the Thursday night ‘Jive Night’ which was only £6 a ticket etc. I left the noisy band ( not as good as yours ! ) and the people using their mobile phones and waited for the vicar near the bookstall. He was flustered when I reminded him that Thursday was actually Ascension Day ( he hadn’t known this ). Apparently, for the next few days all the guy could talk about was Ascension Day ! Aren’t I awful !

Anyroads – once again, brilliant to see you both & looking so well. I would love you to come to supper maybe one evening soon – I shall only be in this house for perhaps 6 more weeks before moving on to becoming a ‘property spiv’ and hopefully ‘author’ of Henry Root-style stuff + somewhat spiritual Israel diaries 92, 95 and 2013. Your lives must be incredibly busy but it would be great to meet up for a longer chinwag ! All love –

Yours in Christ,

Jamie xx

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