The Rev Richard Coles might not be a name that you instantly recognise, but if you were to see a photo of him you’d probably think his face is familiar, as well it is, as he seems to pop up all over the BBC these days on everything from Songs of Praise to Have I Got News For You. His voice is even more recognisable as he is also a regular host of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live. All rather impressive when you consider how few vicars have a public profile outside their parish.
That alone may be considered impressive, but when you add to it that fact that the Rev Richard Coles is also gay, has admitted to taking a whole cocktail of illegal drugs in his youth and is the only vicar in Britain to have had a number one hit single he becomes even more interesting.
1986’s biggest-selling single was The Communards “Don’t Leave Me This Way” a disco anthem that even now fills dance floors in an instant and it is with this song that the, then plain, Richard Coles first became a household name. The journey from Pop Stardom to the Pulpit is one that I personally struggled a bit to get my head around, after all they almost seem like two extremes in life, but it’s that story that Rev Richard Coles tells in Fathomless Riches.
The journey is an extraordinary one and is told with a beautiful honesty in Fathomless Riches. Once you see Richard Cole’s path through life you realise that actually there are several similarities between his old life and his current one. At the same time I also felt somewhat in awe of his brave decisions and choices which brought him to where he is now and delighted to see just how happy these decisions have made him. The Church of England is a weird organisation which at times seems to work in some very mysterious ways yet Fathomless Riches helped to demystify some of it. But at the same time it also made me realise that an organisation that still follows so many old fashioned traditions, even when they no longer make full sense, is going to have an uphill struggle to relate to some of the people that make up modern-day Britain.
Even had the book stopped before Richard found religion it would still have been a fascinating read, learning about what life was like behind the scenes with The Communards and also discovering all the other things that he did relating to politics and how AIDS was being portrayed in the media at the time. Even if you don’t agree with his religious or political views it is clear that he’s someone who has certainly not been sitting back letting life pass him by. I very much didn’t want to let Fathomless Riches end as I had so many questions that I wanted answering, but I also just wanted to sit down with Rev Richard Coles to share either a bottle of wine or a pot of tea and just chat to him in general. He’s certainly someone to add to my dream list of dinner party guests!
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This is book number 1 in my challenge to read 52 books in 2015. Keep following to see how I get on.