A parish priest in Northamptonshire; a former rock-star whose number-one hit with The Communards was the biggest-selling single of 1986; the regular host of BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live - these three people are not usually embodied in one person.
The Reverend Richard Coles' memoir offers his rich and personal insights into one of the most diverse of lives, encompassed with the wit and humour he brings to his popular radio show. Richard Coles gives the phrase 'time management' a new emphasis.
From conducting the funeral of a cross-dressing farmer and recording an interview with a Californian who believes he was abducted by aliens, to a lunch meeting with the Mothers Union, then making an after-dinner speech to a roomful of thoughtful actuaries, his work has taken him from food-fights in a Swiss hotel with the Beastie Boys to propitiating the gods of the sea as Deputy Chaplain to the Admiral of the Wash on his annual inspection of the Beacons and Buoys.
Mirroring the Christian calendar with its narrative of birth, death, and renewal, from Advent to Christmas, from Lent to Easter, Richard Coles gives an honest and lighthearted account of the drama that comes with fulfilling so many roles, and the daily challenges that accompany it.
Fathomless Riches - a phrase characteristic of St Paul and his followers - is the indescribable generosity, love and sheer surprise that Richard Coles encounters through a life of faith. The result is one of the most readable and illuminating autobiographies of the year.
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BRILLIANT STORY - ENTERTAINING THROUGHOUT
As a young boy growing up in Belfast, I remember watching The Communards’ music video for Never Can Say Goodbye. In that video I was mesmerised by the keyboard player in the grey suit, rounded spectacles who sported flat top black hair miming the words ‘Never can say goodbye, boy!’ as he rolled his eyes. This man was Richard Coles, and much to the bewilderment of my parents I wanted the Red album for a Christmas stocking filler.
Years later, while I was studying for the priesthood myself I read an article in the Tablet Magazine that informed me that the said member of The Communards was himself in training for priesthood within the Anglican Church. For years I have always wanted to know how and why someone had the calling from pop to the pulpit.
I decided to listen to Fathomless Riches on audible, as I have been listening to Richard for many years on BBC Radio4, and I wanted to hear him tell the story rather than initially read it. At first, in his preface I found myself connecting with his understanding of Saint Paul and the joy that can be found in the liberating message of the Gospel, but I immediately was left wondering how most people would react to this preface and would it set the tone for the book. Within seconds I was listening to Richard tell a story about a naked man dancing around a car park one Christmas night with nothing but a tinsel wrapped around a certain part of his anatomy, and immediately I found myself laughing and I knew that Yes, this was a story I really wanted to hear.
As if sitting in room, beside a burning log fire with a dachshund on my lap, I was enthralled with the story of a normal Northampton boy who faced the struggles of his life and who took the chances when they came to form one of the biggest pop bands of the 80’s. Richard spared little to exercise the imagination; warts, bums and all were revealed. His honesty, firstly with this sexuality and sexual encounters gave insight in the struggles most gay men face, but also revealed his yearning for more. Secondly, there is a clear golden thread throughout the story that his life was ordained from the beginning to serve. Thirdly, he clearly has the natural gift of a story teller, who’s anecdotes are aptly chosen and refined to leave a lasting memory of who the real man behind the title of ‘rev’ is.
It’s always a privilege to journey with someone as they recount their lives, but often this is hard to experience within a book. Yet, having listened to the first part of his life story I can see that Richard has worked out many things in his life and struggled with many demons to come to the vocation and positon in life where he has been greatly blessed and finds that his soul has found the niche in God’s hand where he can dwell in safety.
So, having listened to this audible version of this book and written the promised review, I’m going to make myself a cuppa and begin listening to it again; if only to get a laugh from the Christmas Tinsel Man.
Thank you Richard – It’s a superb story and I really enjoyed it.
- European Reader
An interesting insight
Having listened to Richard Coles on Radio 4, and remembering his days in the Communards, I was curious to learn how he came to be a man of the cloth. It's an interesting story, with some interesting and famous faces along the way.