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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Doing a Miliband in the Great Sermon Handicap

Ed Miliband's made the news by forgetting entire chunks of his Labour Conference speech while attempting to deliver the whole thing from memory, like David Cameron does. What a lesson this is to people who went to Corpus, that they shouldn't take on people from the old 'Nose at brainwork. Not a hope. Except at University Challenge, and that's mostly about pressing the buzzer first. Brasenose undergraduates would never be quick on the buzzer, being notoriously laid-back and, in David Cameron's case, probably having a butler to do that for him.

Quite apart from making cheap college-based digs, though, it's quite worrying. I mean, what happens if Ed Miliband, against all reason, gets elected, and his memory plays him up on a trip to negotiate with the President in Iran? I can imagine him on the plane back. "Forgot something. Oh yeah, ISIS. And - what was that other thing? Nuclear arms. Duh. I knew there was a reason I went."

Worse still, it strikes me that ISIS could easily sound to Ed like one of the unions that backed his original election as Labour Leader. Him calling them round to No 10 to discuss how they think he should shape his schools policy - thinking it was the NUS - well, it doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

But at least we have a new technical term for what used to be called a "Heppenstall", where a vital part of a public discourse is left out of the argument. Rev "Heppenstall", of course (for I speak to cultured people) being the man who had longer odds than he deserved in the Great Sermon Handicap of Jeeves and Wooster fame. The good Rev dropped a number of pages out of his sermon, but preached on regardless.

Now we can instead call the feat of remembering, just too late, that you've missed out a chunk of your valued and well-prepared spiel a "Miliband".

I remember well my own Miliband Moment. The Beaker Folk had been demanding that, instead of preaching about hazelnuts and how nice things are, I preach a sermon in the style of St Stephen - a popular feature of our sermons is to preach in the style of various famous people. I remember that time Hnaef preached a sermon in the manner of George Carey. Just an hour of shouting "we'd be more popular if I were in charge!"

Anyway, the sermon was a beauty - covering the whole history of salvation. But, like Miliband E, I thought I'd do it all sans texte,  as it were. Skipped a few bits that should have been put in. The Resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, to be precise.

So my sermon consisted of a summary of how, after falling from our first innocence, human beings crucified the only good member of our race that ever lived, his friends wandered around the Mediterranean for no obvious reason, and the world will one day dissolve in fire.

Quite an impact. to be fair. The entire congregation joined the "Quivering Brethren". From now on I ensure my sermons are projected onto the back wall of the Moot House. "Ed" might want to consider it next year. If he's still leader.

1 comment :

  1. Just be glad you only forgot a sermon. I've heard of some vicars who forgot an entire service. Not a great experience for the bride & groom.

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