This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Exit Ruth Gledhill

So Fleet Street's last religious affairs correspondent, Ruth Gledhill of the Times, has been made redundant. Said one commentator, "Her stuff was behind a paywall, so I never read it; and what I did see, I usually disagreed with, but she was a GOOD THING."

Ruth Gledhill and nuns

Did nobody tell Sister Ruth that we don't have a "dress-down Friday"?

One or two part-time religious correspondents remain. At the Telegraph there is John Bingham, who does "social and religious affairs", whatever that might be - it's not as silly a title as "strategic events coordinator", which was how Tom Chivers used to earn his daily crust - and of course there is also the notorious Damian Thompson, who writes about religion and custard.

Damian, Nigel, and Eccles

Damian Thompson chats to an old friend.

Then newspapers such as the Guardian can always pump something into Sir Simon Jenkins in order to get a foaming-at-the-mouth rant, blaming religion for everything from HS2 to the World Cup fiasco.

Of course, religion is increasingly irrelevant to modern life. When the Catholic Church decided to canonize Popes John-Paul II and John XXIII, nobody turned up, and the Pope was left talking to an empty St Peter's Square. When the Anglicans decided to ordain women as bishops, nobody really cared one way or the other: the dead bodies on the floor of the synod were just an accident caused by someone's finger slipping while he was cutting sandwiches.

Michelle Obama, unsaved

Even Michelle Obama's moment of honesty went unnoticed.

There do remain "niche" newspapers for the religious maniac: the Church Times, which is running a feature on How To Cut Sandwiches At A Synod Without Killing Ten Passers-By; also, numerous Catholic papers such as the Tablet, which publishes articles such as Which Pope Do We Hate The Most? Then there's the Catholic Times with its comedy column Loony Lofty and his Hilarious Heresies Re-interpretations of Scripture.

Of course, Ruth Gledhill was a national institution. Being the daughter of vicar, the niece of a Pope, the great-aunt of a Chief Rabbi, and the uncle of an Imam, she has religion in her blood. We shall not see her like again.


  1. I like Ruth Gledhill.
    She gave me directions at the General Synod once.
    I think she may also have tipped off security about me, however.

    1. Perhaps Archdruid Rowan didn't want the competition. I can't imagine that security personnel at the Synod would resist your batting skills for very long. Their main weapons are comfy cushions and fairtrade nobnobs.

  2. "Clifford Longley, Gledhill’s predecessor on The Times, was less forgiving of Fleet Street for no longer having a dedicated religious affairs correspondent.

    He suggested in a column for The Tablet that the national press is prepared to risk “making a mess of the coverage of religion... because the subject doesn’t matter any more”."

    Hehe! There is a joke here somewhere especially coming from Cliff Longbleat and The Bitter Pill!

  3. The latest news is "L'Osservatore Romano" is to make its last religious affairs correspondent redundant this week. For economic reasons with Peters Pence in absolute decline alongside Sunday collection monies and The Vatican bank being exposed for money laundering too. The Vatican tabloid is to dedicate itself to politics, propaganda and Sport. An elderly spokesperson in white with a broken German accent stated that as religion is alien to the thinking of modern man, the era of religious correspondents is over.

  4. So farewell then Ruth Gledhill
    I stopped reading you when The Times
    became subscription only.

    In truth, I cannot remember thing
    You wrote when it was free.

    Now I only study your erstwhile
    Organ in coffee shops or in
    Newsagents and that's usually
    Just the sports headlines:

    "Van Gaal confirmed as United
    Manager" - life's a bitch, Ruth.

    E.J. Shortskirts 17 1/2

  5. Sad day for us all.
    We shall miss you Ruth.
    There is, of course, The Portal and IT IS FREE!
    Ronald Crane

  6. Outstanding work, sir! You have been blogrolled!

  7. Darling eccles, are we assured no Bishop was involved in closing her down? Xx Jess

  8. She will be missed (my aim is appalling these days).