One of my all-time favourite characters in fiction is the lawyer Horace Rumpole – popularly known as Rumpole of the Bailey – and I’m sure some of you will remember the TV series in which Rumpole was portrayed so brilliantly by Leo McKern.
For those of you unfamiliar with Rumpole let me give a bit of background. Horace Rumpole is a character in a series of wonderful books by the writer and barrister John Mortimer. Rumpole is also a barrister, working from his chambers in Equity Court, and he likes nothing better than defending his clients in the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey. Indeed, his skill at defending his clients – and he only ever defends, never prosecutes, is legendary among the criminal classes. He is famed for his success in his greatest ever case, the Penge Bungalow murders, and for his forensic knowledge of typewriters.
I raise Rumpole this morning because he had a golden rule – one which the lawyer in our gospel reading perhaps ought to have been more aware of. And his golden rule was this. When in court, “Never ask a question of a witness unless you already know the answer.”Continue reading
John was really keen to learn to drive as quickly as possible. He knew the highway code by heart. He knew what all the traffic signs meant and he even knew exactly how far to drive behind the car in front so he could stop in time in an emergency. He’d got used to all the controls in the car till using them had become second nature, and he remembered to constantly check his rear-view mirror. He even knew, unlike many, not to use his mobile phone when at the wheel.
But he was no nearer to being able to pass his test than when he first started. So one day he said to his driving instructor, “I know everything there is to know about driving but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere!” Continue reading
One of the most popular and famous television programmes of the last 20 years was Who wants to be a Millionaire. Each contestant had to answer just 12 questions correctly to win a million pounds. During its run – which I managed to avoid completely – it made five people into millionaires.
At its height over 19 million people watched it. And one of the factors that made it famous was its use of what were called ‘lifelines’ which contestants could use if they were stuck on a particular question. I’m sure you remember the format – each question had four possible answers and if you got stuck you could use a lifeline. You had a choice of three.
One of these was Phone a friend, a phrase which has now entered the language. The second was 50/50 where the computer would remove two answers leaving you with one right and one wrong answer. The third lifeline was … ? Continue reading
Last Sunday we had the gospel reading about the rich man who comes to see Jesus and asks the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Here’s what I said.
Down at the swimming pool John had learnt and practised all the arm and leg strokes he needed for swimming. His muscles were well toned and he had learned how to breath correctly in time with the strokes so he didn’t swallow any water. He knew all about how to get off to a flying start, how to turn quickly at the end of each length and how to pace himself. But he still didn’t seem to be making any progress. So one day John said to his swimming coach “I know all about these things but I still can’t swim. What’s going wrong?” The coach, took a deep breath and said, Continue reading
This week’s service was a Family and Parade service. The talk was interactive, so no normal sermon to post here this week, but I’ll summarise briefly what I covered in the talk. Continue reading