Tom Hodgkinson: Who arrives at the door when the pig has been killed? The Methodist minister

 

Share
Related Topics

Around 10 years ago, I opened an account with the Co-operative Bank. I was attracted by its policy of not lending money at excessive rates of interest to the very poor and staying out of the way of arms deals and the like. It seemed by far the best of a bad bunch in the sense that it appeared to have morals. At around the same time, in a feeble anti-capitalist campaign, I joined the Phone Co-operative and an energy supplier called Ecotricity, which apparently supplies its power via windmills.

I thought that the co-operatives and wind-farm people would be cheaper than the big bastards. But they are identically expensive. That's been a disappointment.

And the Co-operative Bank. Well, that's also turned out to be a bust. First off, it failed. Somehow or other it got itself into hot water, started to lose money, and now a large stake in the bank has been acquired by a bunch of hedge funds, run by a social group not known for having many morals or much of a conscience. Commentators suspect that the bank's ethical principles will soon be sacrificed to the gods of Mammon.

Then we discovered that its former chairman, the holier-than-thou Methodist Paul Flowers, was allegedly partial to booking a hotel room and getting out the crack pipe with a few rent boys after a hard day at the cutting-edge of ethical banking.

While Powers' alleged misdemeanours have been broadcast far and wide by the media, he's certainly not the first Methodist to have been accused of hypocrisy. The 19th-century radical William Cobbett criticised Methodist preachers for pretending to help the poor when in fact they were sponging off them. Who suddenly arrives at the door seeking pork-based treats when the cottager has killed his pig? The Methodist minister, says Cobbett.

In his magazine, Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, a sort of Private Eye of its day, he reported on a similar scandal involving an Anglican bishop, Percy Jocelyn, which rocked 1820s London. "On Friday night it appears that he [the bishop] was detected in a back room of the White Lion public-house in St Alban's Place, St James's, in a situation with a private in the Foot Guards, to which we will not more minutely allude." Jocelyn later broke bail and went undercover, working as a butler.

Methodists and Anglicans are not the only hypocrites. Catholic priests and top social workers are routinely discovered to have been paedophiles when it's 40 years too late. And Boccaccio and Chaucer's works are full of tales of randy clergy, who mumble sanctimoniously by day and indulge in licentious behaviour with both genders by night. The common people are easily fooled by a cloak of saintliness.

Paul Flowers isn't the only high-ranking power-broker said to be partial to hedonistic excess, either. Crack has been the drug de jour of Toronto's mayor, conservative firebrand Rob Ford, who confessed last week to smoking it, saying: "Probably in one of my drunken stupors." And a few days later Montreal's mayor, Michael Applebaum, was arrested on corruption charges – though he maintains that the allegations against him are unfounded.

The businessman Felix Dennis spent many years smoking crack with ladies of loose repute. However, he didn't keep it a secret, so comes across as far more likeable than our depraved pulpit-cuffers. And Dennis doesn't say, "I made a mistake," or any of that baloney. "All narcotics are wonderful," he recently told an interviewer, and said he gave them up only for health reasons. He added that he got loads of work done as he didn't sleep for five years.

I suppose that sex, money and power are all intimately related, so these revelations should come as no surprise. The guy with the drugs suddenly acquires lots of friends. He has control. I've often seen evildoers at parties hand out drugs to guests in the hopes that one of them will go to bed with him at some point.

But why go for crack? I was once offered it in a room above a pub by the pop singer Pete Doherty, but declined. I did try it later though, once, in the council flat of a Doherty associate. It tasted of burnt plastic and made me feel a bit hyper for half-an-hour. I remember cleaning the bathroom with the burst of energy it had given me. I couldn't quite see the attraction. Even after very stressful days at the cutting-edge of educational retail, I have managed to resist its temptations, and find a dose of local ale is narcotic enough.

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of 'The Idler'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us