“No,” he said, “I don’t know where that is either.”It was a measure of the challenge Jones faces. David Shepherd, and his RC counterpart, Archbishop Derek Worlock, inherited a Liverpool where bitter divisions between Catholic and Protestant were a lingering reality. Perhaps he could find the Catholic bishop’s residence more easily. As well as sex, the bishop encounters poverty, wealth, crime, disability, unemployment and religious conflict.I took a taxi to the Victorian mansion which was, for all its location in one of the poshest parts of Liverpool, until two years ago home to Jones’s predecessor, the stalwart campaigner against unemployment, poverty and the city’s legendary sectarianism, David Shepherd The taxi-driver got lost on the way He must be a left-footer, I decided. It is part of a nationwide journey among people who have little or no contact with the Church which is to be televised on BBC 1 every night throughout Holy Week. It might have been with rather skewed preconceptions, therefore, that I knocked on the door of the new Bishop of Liverpool this week.
It might have been, had experience not taught me that there can be a significant gap between reality and the world of phantasms routinely paraded before us by Auberon Waugh, A N Wilson and other members of the church of the poisoned mind.
What had occasioned their disdain was the news that the bishop, the Rt Rev James Jones, had gone to Soho to meet a troupe of lap-dancers and a porn actress and “declared that he was walking in the footsteps of Christ”. He is a “cassocked clown” but then what else could you expect from “Blair’s bishop” – the first clergyman to be hand-picked for a top job by New Labour? And all this even before the first programme has been broadcast in the television series which has prompted such a cascade of vitriol. It is quite a list to be going on with. He is “self-righteous” and “pushy”, a “cheap little man” whose only motive is to “improve his image” and “be seen as a saint”.
It says something about the English that the latter took the ascendant.. From haut gout, it reached England after Shakespeare’s death – to mean both flavoursome and putrescent. Still, of the Protestant crisis, he writes that Shakespeare in London “met the full hogo of an issue that Stratford knew only in stray whiffs”. Most likely, Burgess knew it from Ulysses (“a hogo you could hang your hat on”).