Sinners And Saints by Father Michael Seed was published by Metro Publishing. A Catholic priest tells anecdotes about well known and less well known people hovering around the perceived power center of the United Kingdom. Don't expect any earth shaking insights or a fount of wisdom from this book. But it is amusing enough to while away an hour or two.
Father Michael Seed is one of those many catholic priests who have spent too much time with the high and mighty and too little with the poor and needy. It is therefore hardly surprising that his little stories involve a spate of names dropping packed into sometimes amusing little anecdotes involving the recognizable power brokers of the realm. The book doesn't have much of a point or deeper meaning, but it shows that power corrupts.
Michael Seed manages to convey the sheer lunacy of religious people when relating the story of Cardinal Basil Hume. When announcing his coming death due to terminal cancer Cardinal Basil Hume received the answer: ‘Congratulations! That’s brilliant news. I wish I was coming with you.’ from the Abbot of Ampleforth. But as ecumenical adviser to the cardinals at Westminster, lunacy was the least of Seed's problems. Eccentrics, hobgoblins, and sleazes abound in his little tales.
There was one Ann Widdecombe who made a major publicity stunt out of her conversion to Catholicism by hiding paparazzi in the crypt. She topped that feat by organizing an exorcism at the Home Office to rid the rooms of the evil aura of Michael Howard, who had ‘something of the night’ about him, after he left office. Meanwhile we know Ann Widdecombe as a consummate comedienne, but at the time there were people taking her seriously.
Tony Blair was more circumspect with his sneaky conversion. Like everything he did, it was done by lies and deception. I am sure God will appreciate his efforts when judgment day looms. The Prime Minister demanded of Michael Seed to enter through one of the ground floor windows at No 10 Downing Street to read mass to the Blair family in corpore. And Alan Clark treated him as his personal confessional priest, telling him that after having talked to God he now felt completely at ease; then showing him his collection of Nazi memorabilia.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta would descend upon London and demand a 30 room mansion for her down-and-outs; and would get it. As Cardinal Basil Hume once said: ‘She always wants things and I always give them to her.’ Michael Seed describes Cardinal Basil Hume as childish, petulant and immature for throwing tantrums when missing a football match due to his duties. And driving past No 10 Downing Street, the cardinal would shout ‘Maggie out!’ But Hume was known to never give anybody any lifts in his limousine paid for by the faithful: ‘My car is not a taxi.’ he would say. So, how does Seed pretend to know this?
There are enough very funny stories in between the plain names dropping to make the book quite a good and amusing read. All of it obviously has to be taken with a pinch of salt, to put it mildly. Or as my grand-mother used to say: ‘Si non è vero, è ben trovato.’ (If it is not the truth, at least it is well invented.) It won't keep you in your seat on a long train journey, but it is perfect for reading on and off while putting your legs up for a cup of tea and a biscuit.