Wednesday 5 September 2018

Latimer and Ridley

My father, atheist, Communist, Jewish, liked
to sing ‘I’m the man, the very fat man who
waters the workers’ beer’, a song in Yiddish,
about a Rabbi who got drunk, ‘Buddy can
you spare a dime’, ‘Avanti popolo...’ and

“Last week down our alley came a toff
Nice old geezer with a nasty cough.
Sees my missus, takes his topper off
In a very gentlemanly way!
"Ma'am" says he, "I 'ave some news to tell,
Your rich uncle Tom of Camberwell,
Popp'd off recent, which it ain't a sell,
Leaving you 'is little donkey shay."

"Wot cher!" all the neighbours cried,
"Who yer gonna meet, Bill
Have yer bought the street, Bill?"
Laugh! I thought I should 'ave died”
Knock'd 'em in the Old Kent Road! ‘

He would also on occasions summon up
the martyring of Bishop Ridley and Bishop
Latimer, both of them burnt at the stake in
At that very moment, Bishop Latimer
is thought to have said something which
inspired my father to recite, 400 years later
at the breakfast table, on a car journey or
when looking into the embers of the fire on a
camping holiday in Wales:
“Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the
man; we shall this day light such a candle in
England, as I hope, by God’s grace, shall never
be put out.”