Sunday, 31 October 2021
Clothed In White Raiment?
"Teenage bartenders ought not to address venerable elders as "mate"," I half-jokingly posted on Facebook a little over a week ago. And such is the power of social media that there now arrives an email addressed in all seriousness to "Venerable Elder David Lindsay".
From Britain to the United States, and from Africa to the Caribbean, the Black Church is particularly eager to venerate me, for some reason. In my time, I have also been addressed as "His Excellency Professor David Lindsay".
The contrast is stark with the liberal lay salariat that runs the Catholic Church in this country. That lot had two goes at trying to send me to prison for this book and because of their own symbiotic relationship with the right wing of the Labour Party in much of the country, including the North East.
They would no doubt have kept going until they had won, and they are beside themselves that I am still not dead. Upon my release, rumour already had it that a hit had been put on me in prison, but that the hitman had taken such a liking to me that he had given the money back. I do not know that that is not true.
"Venerable," you say? Well, that I never did become a second generation archdeacon is in fact tied up with the strange fate of either the first or the second person ever to have assumed mistakenly that I held a doctorate, and the first ever to have assumed mistakenly that I was ordained.
In either September or October 1996, and in one order or the other but I cannot remember which, I received a letter addressed to "Dr David Lindsay" from Jimmy Goldsmith, of all people, and a letter addressed to "The Reverend Dr David Lindsay" from a Reverend Doctor who, at almost exactly the same time, admitted me as an undergraduate for the next year at the Durham college of which he was Principal.
Sir James was corrected, although he continued the correspondence even once he knew that I was a 19-year-old barman who did not address venerable elders as "mate", but my other correspondent left both his position and this country very soon afterwards. To this day, I have never met him, so I can only assume that he thought that there were two David Lindsays at this address, presumably a father and son.
A former colleague of my late father's was made Acting Principal, but he had returned to being a Tutor by the time that I matriculated, so that although an old Army comrade of my father's was Senior Tutor (and, astonishingly, is still alive, and still active in several fields), and for that matter although the bishop whose archdeacon my father had been, who had married my parents and who had baptised me, was the oldest living Old Boy, it rapidly became clear that God had other plans for me than those which might have appeared obvious when I had first become a Son of Saint Chad, Great Bishop and Confessor.
Goldsmith is the only person without a doctorate ever to have assumed me to have held one, but people with their own have done it with remarkable frequency. For example, the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham innocently listed me among its members as "Dr David Lindsay" until Oliver Kamm noticed and threw a hissy fit.
I corrected it, as I always do, and it was put right. Kammiknickers in a twist had been completely ignored on the subject, as was only right and proper. I have no idea why, but academically distinguished people read my work and just assume me to be a PhD. None of them has ever had that reaction to Kamm's effusions. Hey, ho.
As for the Reverend thing, an old lady from South Shields did once ask me, "Are you David Miliband, Father?" I explained that I was neither, and that it would have been impossible to have been both. Apart from that, though, the only people to have assumed me to have been ordained have themselves been ordained.
As with the Doctor thing, I am not, I have never claimed to be, and I have never attempted to be. Yet, among other things, I have had "Dear Father Lindsay" from bishops and from Vatican officials, both of whom one might have expected to have been in a position to check. I cannot begin to explain it, although, again, I do of course always correct it.
I might let "Dr Lindsay" go among my own people, variously conceived, if it were to arise spontaneously among them, in the manner of the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. It would wind up Kamm no end, and what is life for, if not for that? Other than that, I would tolerate objections to it only from people who would never have said or written either "Dr Paisley" or "Dr Angelou".
"We hand this woman, Margaret Thatcher, over to the Devil." "I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size." Dr Lindsay would be happy to give his most favourable peer review to that vintage Dr Angelou and to that vintage Dr Paisley, in that order. In the meantime, I make do with being His Excellency Professor David Lindsay. Or, even better, Venerable Elder David Lindsay.