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.
©2014 Richard Coles (P)2014 Orion Publishing Group
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.
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.
I have always wondered why a gay man would choose to belong to an organisation that is so homophobic as the church, be it anglican or catholic. Being gay is not a choice, you either are or your not, a so called faith is something you attach yourself to by choice,
so why would you wish to enter this "club" when you are not welcome or accepted? I decided to listen to this book hoping to find the reason or some kind of explanation, unfortunately I didn't
have not yet decided
It was his story , so he was the best to tell it
A mad scientist in the making with a minor addiction to books.
Richard Coles is a very interesting man who has lived a crazy life. One thing that sold me this audiobook is that Richard reads it himself which, I find, adds a lot more depth to any memoir.
For anyone who doesn’t know, The Reverend Richard Coles has an insanely interesting life; from popstar in 80s group The Communards to a CofE priest turned comedian. I wanted to read this for a good period of time before I actually picked it up because Richard’s appearances on shows like QI and Have I Got News For You have turned him in to one of my favourite TV personalities. This book was not a disappointment, it made me laugh, it was interesting and also gave me a little spiritual lifting, something I really wasn't expecting to get from it in spite of his affiliation with the church!
This book is brutally honest, but still respectful of the others involved, and I admired that. There is an insane amount of drugs, sex and rock and roll, especially in the first half. There’s the rise and fall of The Communards, his life through the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, where he lost of many friends. The years that followed where he drifted and then found himself turning to religion, going to university to study theology and his subsequent path to the pulpit.
It does end quite abruptly, just has he has been ordained, but I have been assured (by several sources, I'm not sure how reliable they are) that there is a part 2 to come, as to when that will be I don’t know! I look forward to reading, or listening, to it because I’d quite like to hear about his life after being ordained.
I loved this and I think it would be a great place to start with the audiobook format!
I have not read the printed version, but thoroughly enjoyed Richard Coles' rendition of his own book.
The hope it inspires that we can change and become better beings. The book charts Richard Coles' progress from insecure, self-obsessed narcissist to a man of the cloth with less focus on himself.
Richard Coles description of the Easter service during his training.
An enjoyable autobiography, although I'm not sure I like Richard Coles as he portrays himself!
I have not read the print version so I cannot comment. Having said this I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version and was massively impressed by The Revd Richard Coles life's journey.
It has to be the author himself, there are many multi dimensional characters in this autobiography but they are all somewhat peripheral to the subject of the story.
He has a good broadcasting voice and without doubt I felt he was telling me his story which made it more personal than the written word.
The crossing and re crossing of the Tiber which describes his move from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism and back again. I can fully see where he is coming from in this. The Church of England is a broad church so much so that it struggles to encompass views that seem diametrically opposed. As an openly gay priest though The Revd Coles is able to be more 'honest' as an Anglican and this can only serve to make his ministry more pertinent in the early twenty first century.
A painfully honest book which might trouble some but will inspire many. Jesus was a man of and in his time and context, it is to be hoped that this honest autobiography will serve to help drag the Christian faith towards modern society, albeit in some areas kicking, screaming and dragging its feet!
I loved the honestly, and directness of the story. Theres no stone unturned, no bush hidden behind or anthing dressed up. This is an autobiography that lays the story bare, and allows the listener to be drawn in and gripped by the some times hilarious, often poignant and always honest story telling.
The description of the roof on the thatched cottage had me laughing out loud. Brilliant.
I loved the retelling of Richards involvement of the Miners Strike.
Made me laugh out loud, and cry buckets. Its very emotional.
No, I loved it. Quite simply put.
"A bit too boringly confessional"
Yes, I would. There were many aspects of the book that I enjoyed. Overall, however, I felt there was too much confessional info and it was not even that interesting. I read it as I know of him as a personality. The religion bit left me cold.
I already knew how it would end.
Erudite, fast-paced, listenable.
In retrospect, no. I read it to the end to see if would improve. Some of the prose was lovely, but I wanted more dialogue and meaningful interactions.`
I suppose this captures an era, but I didn't feel it went deep enough. It wasn't Joe Orton. Also, the conversion stuff was not terribly believable or interesting. The best bits were about the BBC and his travels.
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